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170. JM Fortier | the Market Gardener | Les Jardins de la Grelinette | Quebec, CANADA
14th April 2017 • GREEN Organic Garden Podcast • Jackie Marie Beyer
00:00:00 01:11:46

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Market Gardener Extraordinaire

Bon Jour!! and Welcome to episode 170 of the Organic Gardener Podcast Today!!! I AM JUST THRILLED to introduce my guest because not only are we about to break 250,000 downloads of the Organic Gardener Podcast yes, thanks to all of you amazing green future growers listening out there that’s one quarter of a million downloads, very likely as we speak this morning January 12, 2017!

But way back in episode 45 Joyce Pinson from Friends Drift Inn. recommended the award winning book the Market Gardener: A successful Grower’s Handbook for Small Scale Organic Farming by JM Fortier who is revolutionizing the way we think about agriculture, small scale farming and most of all how we care for our planet and today he his here with us to share his knowledge and his incredible passion! So I know you are as excited as I am to hear him speak so welcome Jean Martin Fortier!!!!

jmbasilshirt

You have to check out the pics on his website http://lagrelinette.com/visite-des-jardins/ and the videos on youtube.

THE BROADFORK TRICK

is to make sure your soil is really loose and deep

broadfork from Amazon

broad fork

Upcoming Talks, Events & Workshops

December 9th, Pocantico Hills, NY: Workshop at the Young Farmers Conference, Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture

January 10th, Lincoln, NE: Meet and Greet at Ploughshare Brewing Company

January 11th, Lincoln, NE: Morning Training at the Nebraska Farmers Union

January 13-14, St Joseph, Missouri : Keynote Address and Workshop at the Great Plains Growers Conference,

January 27th, New Brunswick, New Jersey: Keynote Address at the Food and Farming in the Garden State NOFA NJ 27th Winter Conference

March 24th, Umbria, Italy: Keynote Address, Conferenza per agricultura sostenibile 

April 8th, Pikeville, Kentucky, Details to follow, for more info contact Joyce Pinson at Friends Drift Inn Farms

The Market Gardener Jean-Martin Fortier.

Market Gardener Book


Market Gardener: A successful Grower’s Handbook for Small Scale Organic Farming

Tell us a little about yourself.

Jean-Martin Fortier & Maude-Helene Desroches

First of all I’m French-Canadian, I live in Quebec Canada! I have a micro-farm with my wife, we’ve been farming there for almost 15 years … it’s a real special farm, because it’s kind of big and small! It’s a small commercial farm, compared to other CSA production farms. 

We cultivate about an acre and a 1/2 that’s about the size of soccer field! But by using the techniques and tools we are able to generate enough income to be living from that acre and half.

Community Supported Agriculture

We feed more then 250 families, we do a CSA and we go to farmer’s market! We do specialty crops for certain restaurants and the local community for our grocery store!

  • CSA
  • Farmer’s Market
  • Grocery Store
  • Restaurants

The farm is in operation for a while! I guess I can say it that way, I guess my claim to fame is that we have been proving that a farm doesn’t need to be big to be very profitable. You can use hand tools and low tech gardening strategies to grow commercially and make it happen yourself, all while the community with nourishing food!

I think that’s a perfect introduction. Your farm is  … Im not gonna try to say it in french because I’ve struggled with french for years. It’s named after the broadfork is that right now?

coupletogehter

The Gardens of the Broadfork

Yep, the Broadfork! I’m sure your listeners know what the broadfork is… It’s a tool, a big tine that you plunge into the ground … and then with a rowing motion you loosen up your soil, but  you don’t disturb the ecology, you just flip it upside down… really waht you want to do. We called our farm, the Broadfork farm, but it’s not because the broad fork originates in Fance byname who invented it in the early in the early 60’s by André Grelinin. Our farm is called Les Jardins de la Grelinette, which means the “Gardens of the Broad fork!”

broadfork from Amazon

I am going to encourage listeners if they have not seen a broadfork,  to go to your website, and look because I had heard about it but until, I went to the seed fair last year and saw one. There are so many super cool videos on your website and I was watching Curtis Stone doing some videos on your youtube channel I learned so much and I loved the little insect hotel! 

Tell me about your first gardening experience?

I grew up in the suburbs, a typical teenager, skateboarding, snowboarding… my parents were not hippies … my parents were not farmers.. my father had a small garden but I don’t remember it being so important. He did have a garden. But my first memory of the garden was in the garage there were some shelves that had these bottles, there were some bottles in them with bones and it was like extreme danger! This was the pesticide cabinet, and as a young guy, I was really curious about the pesticide cabinet. That was one of my first memories as a gardener…. It’s funny that I grew up thinking this is really nasty stuff… I can’t even imagine why a home gardener would put pesticides in their gardens it’s like when people used to smoke in hospitals and airplanes.. 

So one of my first memories is …. my father used to grow roses, and tomatoes and he would always take care of the roses… I don’t know that was why I called my daughter Rose.

NY Organic Farms

Awww… I have a daughter who’s middle name is Rose too! The first person who mentioned the Broadfork on my show, was this woman in NY , and I interview her father too who has a farm on Long Island in NY called Orient Organics he was telling me when they were kids, and his dad came home it was like the new technology it was like wow you’re not gonna have to weed anymore! But I know it seems so counterintuitive to put pesticides on your food, but I know today there are still tons of people, I meet etc and are like what you shouldn’t put that on your food? They go to the store and see it on the shelf and think that’s what I’m supposed should do…

I’m sure if they are listening to your podcast, it’s because they’re frankly quite aware that you should careful about what you eat… if they don’t care about what you eat and if they only care about how much money they make doing it, it is really really easy to spread a lot of nasty stuff on it, and not have anyone know about it.

My husband just sent me an article yesterday about the pesticides they are putting on wheat and it’s like they are putting it on the wheat right before they’re harvesting because it’s gentler on the machinery? or something like that, ti’s amazing… the people who are listening to my podcast are, when you meet people on an everyday basis… I assume everyone is… I ask them to be on my podcast and they’re like why is that bad? and I’m like well you probably shouldn’t and there are other things you could do….

Jean Martin Fortier and Maude-Hélène Desroches

How did you learn how to garden organically?

I met my wife at the University we were studying ecology and the environment and we were studying… I don’t want to say gloom and doom but we we’re looking at how the all these other systems were being replaced by deforestation and and all these other problems and we were frankly… after 3 years, we were like we need to do something that is gonna help the world … I still feel strongly about that now… we were looking for how should we do that?

We took a trip … we went to Mexico we worked on coffee bean farms… fair trade coffee farms … then we came up to the US … then we started to work building earth ships which are super cool houses, independent houses  … desert of New Mexico  built out of recycled tires and cans … so we worked there for a while… found that interesting too…

WWOOFING it!

http://wwoof.net/ WWOOF Website

Then we started to WWOOF which is volunteer on a small an organic farm… 

That’s where we met … xpat- french canadian who had been farming and living in Sante Fe for a long time, more then 10 years. He was the Salad King at the Sante Fe Farmer’s market, everybody knew who he was…he was one of the better growers … and in my young mind he was a local hero…. He was making good money and I knew because we were helping at his booth and we were helping with his cash box and he was happy cause he was speaking French with us … and the Montessori school they had a farm manager … 

He left in August so they were kind of stuck! And we had four months of experience and we said yes! That was a big learning curve… we dedicated ourselves to making this better and we stayed there for a year and half but that is how we learned by being immersed really cool farming community where farmers are revered and the community makes it a point to go to the famers market every sat morning… 

Market Energy

I just felt like there was an energy there that was so strong I felt like I need to become an organic gardener … I could go on and say we came back to Quebec and lived in a Teepee for two years and then bought a rabbit farm that we converted into a house. Then we bought land that was 10 acres and 2 acres that could be farmed… 

MarketGardenerBookThat the story of how our systems … because we had limited land and we had all sorts of ways to optimize our production and everntualy wrote  a book about it, and that eventually very popular…
Market Gardener: A successful Grower’s Handbook for Small Scale Organic Farming

Well do you want to tell us more about that?

More about what?

About your book and what you are doing to optimize production?

When we bought the farm, we lived in a teepee

We made a big mistake quite early on, we were young… we had seen this couple living with their kids in New Mexico on rented land and we thought that was really romantic… when we came back to Quebec we put a teepee on rented land … and started to put a green house and started to have a little market garden… but a tipi in Quebec, it’s -25º in winters…

I actually teach on the Blackfeet reservation here…  and nobody’s actually living in teepees here now… but I stayed in a teepee once and it was lined with herbs and it smelled so good and it was really nice! But yeah, a teepee in Quebec I can see that would be cold…

Winters

So we would take our winters off and we went to Cuba and growers there farming differently because when the soviet union fell apart the Cuban people didn’t ahve any access to fossil fuel anymore… 

  • didn’t have fuel to put in tractors
  • didn’t have herbicides, or fungicides … because these are all petroleum based products so they had to reinvent their farming for it to be 100% organic so they invented this system of permanent raised beds
  • they were very densely planted and seeded. became planted

For us that was very influential because you would see acres and acres of these permanent raised beds and it was all farmed without a tractor. And taht was what we wanted to …

I have never been excited about garages and machines

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