Ok, so I will be the first to admit that I was not totally on board when my spouse presented me with the idea of starting a market garden.

To be quite honest, I didn’t even know what a market garden was, let alone what it all entailed. I go into more detail on how we decided to start a market garden here.

Long story short, my husband made a compelling argument about why we should start a market garden, and eventually, after much contemplation, I agreed.

So what did he say exactly that convinced me?

Well, the truth is, he was well prepared when he approached me and had a plan (a rough one, but still a plan) about how we could make it work.

The fact that he had taken the time to research, study, watch videos, read books, and gather information told me that he was serious about starting a market farm.

I listened to his pitch and was pretty impressed, but of course, I had some questions.

How Do I Start A Market Garden?

As it turns out, you don’t need a big plot of land to start a market garden. In fact, you can have a profitable market garden on less than an acre of property.

OK, so you don’t need a large property to start a market garden, but what about farming equipment, I mean, don’t you need a tractor or something?

Well, no you don’t. The idea of a market farm is to grow better instead of bigger by using gardening techniques and tools that make farming on a smaller plot of land a viable option (viable meaning profitable).

The idea is to develop a productive and profitable micro-farm. By utilizing low-tech strategies, one can keep start-up costs to a minimum and overhead expenses low.

How Much Do Market Gardeners Make?

It might surprise you to find out that market farmers can make a pretty decent livelihood.

Now, I’m not saying that you will start out making $80,000 a year but a well-run market garden with good sales outlets can earn $60,000 – $100,000 per acre annually in diverse vegetable crops.

Crazy, right?

That’s not even working 12 months a year. Here in Canada, it’s from about March to November.

So far, this market garden thing was sounding pretty good to me!

Jon and I have read J.M Fortier’s the market gardener many, many times because he is based in Canada (like us) and has been a market farmer for well over 15 years, he’s pretty much an expert and we value his advice and point of view.

Anyways, I digress, in the market gardener, J.M. revealed that he and his wife earned $20,000 in their first year as market gardeners on ⅕ of an acre.

The $20,000 figure is probably a more realistic income in the early years as opposed to $100,000 when your farm is well established. Just wanted to keep expectations in check.

How do we make that $20,000 in the first year?

Well, we need a customer base. We need to establish ourselves as market farmers before we even plant any vegetables.

This means establishing an online presence, via YouTube, this website, IG, etc., and connecting with other farmers in the area.

As well, we can try and set up a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) where customers (mostly friends and family at first) purchase a set number of weekly boxes for the season, and we fill them up with the veggies we grow.

Along with CSA, we plan on having a roadside stand and depending on how much vegetables we end up with, hitting up our local farmer’s market.

On top of these methods, we can approach local chefs, restaurants, and grocery stores to see if they would be interested in using/selling our vegetables.

By no means is market farming a sit back and relax way of earning a living, but it is fulfilling and something we can feel good about at the end of the day.

sweet fern organics market garden land

How Much Land Do I Need For A Market Garden?

As I have mentioned above, the beauty part of market gardening is that you don’t need a ton of land to start. Less than an acre will do.

That being said, it is important that you do some research before you decide on what area to grow in.

You don’t want to set up shop in an area that is saturated with market farmers already. Visit your local farmer’s market and see how many vegetable farmers there are, and do some Googling.

If there are a ton of market farms in your area, you may want to reconsider setting up permanent ground there.

Another thing to consider is growing regions. Certain regions have longer growing seasons than others, this is particularly important in places such as Canada, where we have 4 seasons generally.

This becomes less important if you are in an area with only 1 or 2 seasons, but you should still find out what grows well in your area and when, so you can plan your crops accordingly.

To start, you don’t need to buy your own land. You can rent. That’s what J.M. Fortier did, and that’s what we are doing. Albeit, our plan is to rent to own, but for now, we do not own the land we are growing on.

What is the most profitable vegetable to grow and sell?

The most profitable market garden crops really depend on your customer base and what they want to buy.

Generally speaking, salad mixes do really well, so do tomatoes, pepper, cucumbers, and garlic.

Really though, in your first seasons, it’s a good idea to grow a wide variety of vegetables to see what grows well in your soil and what sells the best.

From there, you will have a good idea of what is worth growing and what is not.

Bottom Line

To get your spouse on board with your ‘crazy’ ‘life-changing’ ideas, be prepared.

Research necessary questions that will need answers. He or she is going to have questions. Anticipate these questions and be prepared with the answers.

Be positive.

Be excited and enthusiastic.

List all the benefits, as well as the drawbacks, and try to paint those drawbacks in a light so they seem like benefits.

Every obstacle and hurdle can be an adventure, push you to your limits, and help you become better people.

Learning new skills and starting over is scary, be sympathetic to your partner, and be calm when answering their questions.

If they are like “No, I don’t want to do that.” Give them some time to think about it because from experience (may or may not be mine) they sometimes are a bit rash with their decisions and simply need some time to process before arriving at their final decision.

Don’t half-ass it. If you are serious about an idea, do the work, prepare yourself properly so you can properly prepare your spouse.

If you have prepared yourself thoroughly, and are excited about this new venture, your partner probably will be too, eventually!

Did you have to convince your spouse to start a market garden? If so, how did you do it, and were you successful?

Let us know in the comments below.

Stay Local,

Kathy and Jon

Your friendly neighbourhood gardeners!


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