About The Market Gardener By JM Fortier

Based on low-tech, high-yield methods of production, The Market Gardener is packed with practical information on:

  • Setting up a micro-farm by designing biologically intensive cropping systems, all with negligible start-up costs
  • Farming without a tractor and minimizing fossil fuel inputs through the use of the best hand tools, appropriate machinery, and minimum tillage practices
  • Growing mixed vegetables systematically with attention to weed and pest management, crop yields, harvest periods, and pricing approaches.

The Market Gardener is a complete, modern, micro-scale farming handbook that shows that making a living wage growing food without large capital outlay or access to an acreage may be closer than you think.

What I Loved About The Market Gardener

What I love about The Market Gardener is that even if you have never picked up so much as a shovel in your day-to-day life, by the time you worked your way through this book, you would have started a viable market farm.

I particularly like the breakdown of start-up costs for anyone who is thinking about starting a market garden from scratch.

This was very useful for us because we are in fact starting a market farm from scratch and it gave us a very good idea of what equipment we needed and how much it was all going to cost.

I also found that the author JM was very transparent when it came to the farming techniques he uses. He tells you his methods as well as logical alternatives.

For example with compost, JM chooses to purchase it from a supplier to ensure its quality even though he could make it on his farm himself. He chose to purchase it because he could ensure its high quality and making it on his farm would be too time-consuming in a busy growing season.

He really goes into a lot of detail about the techniques he uses for various tasks so that you, the reader, can follow along and do the same and hopefully have similar results.

As well, JM’s section on growing crops is invaluable. With information such as spacing, preferred cultivars, days in the garden, and number and dates of seedings, you can pretty much emulate his crop plan if your growing conditions are the same as his.

We are fortunate to share similar weather patterns to JM, so we are following his crop plan pretty closely this year.

Overall, The Market Gardener is a pretty easy read, not too wordy, and straight to the point. You can easily read it from cover to cover.

What I Didn’t Love About The Market Gardener

While The Market Gardener has all of the gardening information you need to start a successful market farm, it is light on the actual marketing of a market farm.

In my experience so far, which admittedly is fairly limited, marketing your market garden is an extremely important part of establishing a successful market farm.

Think about it, you can grow the most delicious veggies in your community, but if nobody knows you exist, no one will buy them.

Going hand in hand with the lack of marketing advice, The Market Gardener is a little short on details about sales outlets as well.

JM goes into detail about growing for CSA, which is amazing, but not so much about selling at farmer’s markets, farm stands, restaurants, or retailers.

That being said, there are a few gems of advice about how to add value to your crops so you can sell them at top value, which is quite useful information!


I highly recommend The Market Gardener to anyone who is thinking about starting a market farm, particularly beginners with minimal growing experience.

It has great ideas on how to find the right land, minimizing start-up costs, designing your site, equipment needed, fertilizing, weed and pest control, starting your seeds, season extension, crop planning, harvesting, and storage.

However, if you’re looking for a resource to help you market your already established market garden, this book is not it.

The Market Gardener is written for beginners as it goes through the necessary steps to start a market garden, and is based on JM’s own experience which in my opinion, is invaluable.

About JM Fortier

Jean-Martin Fortier and his wife Maude-Helene Desroches are founders of Les Jardins de la Grelinette, an internationally recognized micro-farm famous for its high productivity-profitability using low tech, high yield methods of production.

A leading practitioner of biologically intensive cropping systems, JM has more than a decade’s worth of experience in mixed organic farming.

Find JM on Facebook // Instagram // Twitter // YouTube

*Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are our own. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. Read full privacy policy here.

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