Icon - Arrow LeftAn icon we use to indicate a rightwards action. Icon - Arrow RightAn icon we use to indicate a leftwards action. Icon - External LinkAn icon we use to indicate a button link is external. Icon - MessageThe icon we use to represent an email action. Icon - Down ChevronUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - CloseUsed to indicate a close action. Icon - Dropdown ArrowUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - Location PinUsed to showcase a location on a map. Icon - Zoom OutUsed to indicate a zoom out action on a map. Icon - Zoom InUsed to indicate a zoom in action on a map. Icon - SearchUsed to indicate a search action. Icon - EmailUsed to indicate an emai action. Icon - FacebookFacebooks brand mark for use in social sharing icons. flipboard Icon - InstagramInstagrams brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - PinterestPinterests brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - TwitterTwitters brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - Check MarkA check mark for checkbox buttons.
You are reading

Celebrity Farmer: Meet Jean-Martin Fortier, Canada’s ‘Six Figure’ Organic Micro-Gardener

Search

Celebrity Farmer: Meet Jean-Martin Fortier, Canada’s ‘Six Figure’ Organic Micro-Gardener

April 12, 2018

If you’ve not already heard of Jean-Martin Fortier, allow us to introduce you to a rising star, the Canadian organic farmer whose notion of human-scaled, “six-figure farming” is shaking up the fields.

Fortier is a busy man: He’s the founder, with wife Maude-Helène Desroches, of Les Jardins de la Grelinette, a 10-acre micro-farm in eastern Quebec where the couple live with their two kids. He’s also at the helm of La Ferme des Quatre-Temps, about an hour away—a social-enterprise experiment to train a new generation of farmers and demonstrate how diversified, small-scale farms can be profitable (while producing highest-quality crops and livestock).

“Profitable” and “six-figure” aren’t terms typically thrown around in discussions of micro-farms, but Fortier does things a little differently. He openly shares that his family farm is profitable, grossing about $100,000 per acre annually (on 1.5 acres of cultivated land)—enough to live well and support his family. He wants people to know that you can make money farming, he tells us, “because, first of all, it’s true. And if we want to attract more young people into the trade, we must let them know that it is possible to make a good living as farmers.”

By “farmers,” he means knowledgeable, efficient stewards of the land. “The goal is to increase production and have more of a life every year,” says Fortier. “Grow better, not bigger, to optimize the cropping system, making it more lucrative and viable in the process.” To share the wealth, Fortier founded The Market Gardener—a set of resources (a book, film, master class, and website) to help both established and would-be farmers increase their organic yields, improve the quality of their produce, and ultimately buy more time for themselves and their families.

Photography by Alex Chabot, courtesy of the Market Gardener.

Fortier uses a double-wheeled hoe from French company Terrateck (for more, read Fortier&#8
Above: Fortier uses a double-wheeled hoe from French company Terrateck (for more, read Fortier’s recommendations on Wheeled Hoes). Fortier believes in maximizing farming efficiency for the long-term—meaning no pesticides and no large farm equipment.

Les Jardins de la Grelinette provides more than 200 families with vegetables each week through CSA shares, produce baskets, and weekly farmers’ markets. They don’t grow fruit, says Fortier, “because I want to focus on what I am good at and have time to enjoy life.”

Fortier aims to help small farms use “human-scaled” tools that will make their efforts more efficient. Browse his list of recommended Market Gardening Tools for more.

Fortier sorts Irrigation Equipment on the farm.
Above: Fortier sorts Irrigation Equipment on the farm.

Though Fortier sometimes uses the terms “farmer” and “market gardener” interchangeably, I asked for a definition of the latter: “It’s a scale thing,” he says. “We work in gardens, with no tractors, but we still bring to market what we produce.”

Justine, a former employee of La Ferme des Quatre-Temps, has since started her own farm. Both of Fortier&#8
Above: Justine, a former employee of La Ferme des Quatre-Temps, has since started her own farm. Both of Fortier’s farms have trained hundreds of interns, many of whom go on to start their own ventures.
Interns harvest radishes.
Above: Interns harvest radishes.

For aspiring farmers and market gardeners, Fortier offers The Market Gardener’s Masterclass, an online course about “applying a model of commercial vegetable production that is designed to care for the land, care for the farmers, and care for the people eating the food.”

The class is not meant for total beginners, says Fortier. Read the class’s FAQ for more detail or Sign Up for Info about the next cohort, which starts in June.

Carrots are headed to market.
Above: Carrots are headed to market.
Fortier sells heirloom tomatoes at the market stand.
Above: Fortier sells heirloom tomatoes at the market stand.
Fortier, Desroches, and their two children at Les Jardins de la Grelinette.
Above: Fortier, Desroches, and their two children at Les Jardins de la Grelinette.

The Market Gardener’s Toolkit is a 90-minute video documenting one growing season on Fortier&#8
Above: The Market Gardener’s Toolkit is a 90-minute video documenting one growing season on Fortier’s farm. It’s part profile, part seminar on such topics as weeding, transplanting, tilling, and managing pests. It’s available as a DVD or digital download, starting at $7.50 from Possible Media.
If you&#8
Above: If you’re a beginner with an edible garden, start with the book, says Fortier (you can graduate to the course if you need it). The Market Gardener: A Successful Grower’s Handbook for Small-Scale Organic Farming; $16.91 on Amazon.
For more on farming across our sites, see our guide to Edible Gardens 101 and growing tips for fruits and vegetables, including Carrots, Lettuces, and Blueberries. Read more:

Product summary  

Have a Question or Comment About This Post?

Join the conversation

From our network