The beauty thing about starting a market farm is that you are typically farming less than 5 acres, which means the tools you need are smaller and less expensive in nature than a traditional, monocrop farm.
For the most part, hand tools are the primary tools market farmers use.
This is excellent news, especially for a beginner who is trying to keep start-up costs to a minimum.
In this article, I am going to highlight must-have tools to start a market garden, as well as nice to have tools, but not necessary to own right away in order to start your market garden.
The tools mentioned in this section are advantageous to own right out of the gate because they will make your life much easier when it is time to start your market garden.
Function: used to harvest carrots, weed your gardens and loosen the soil
Note: Buy a pitchfork that is connected to the shaft with one solid piece or weld if you want it to last. Pitchforks that have the fork connected at the end are held in place with a screw, bolts, or glue and will not last a full season.
Function: used to loosen subsoil for no-till bed preparation, can be used to harvest carrots, loosen ground to pull out invasive grass or weeds
Function: used for weeding walkways and perimeter, no-till bed turning tool
Function: used for spreading compost evenly, and shaping beds when turning them over without a tiller, used frequently during plot preparation
Function: used to direct seed your garden beds
A small serrated steak knife will do for this task.
Function: used to harvest lettuce, arugula, mustard greens, and spinach
Nice To Have Tools
The tools mentioned in this section are not necessary to start with, but as your market farm grows, will help make your efforts in the garden more efficient and less time-consuming.
Function: used to cut edges of grass around a perimeter (a shovel could also work for this function, FYI)
A worthwhile investment if farming on more than ⅓ acre, anything less and you can get by without owning one. Instead, you could rent one when it is needed for plot preparation.
Function: used for plot preparation
Cost: up to $5,000
Function: used to harvest greens quickly, beneficial when harvesting over 50lbs of greens per week
As you can see, you do not need a lot of tools for small-scale farming. You may even have some of these tools from your own garden in your yard.
Another way to save money when you are just starting out with your market farm is to check Kijiji and Craigslist often for used equipment for sale.
You can also put an ad up of your own indicating what equipment you are looking for so people who are selling their equipment can contact you first.
For more information about the tools you need to start a successful market garden, check out our extensive book list here.
What were your essential tools for your first years of market farming? Let us know in the comments below.
Kathy & Jon
your friendly neighbourhood growers