Friday, Feb 2, 2018: Seminar
Saturday, Feb 3, 2018: Round-Table
Faculty: Jean-Martin Fortier
“Feeding people locally is hard work, but it can be part of a fulfilling lifestyle with a deep sense of connection with the land and the community. I propose that we work together towards growing the pie, inviting more people to our tables, all while refining our craft by continuously finding and sharing more efficient ways of running human-scale farms. My goal is to share the tools, techniques and inspiration for you to succeed as a market gardener, grow amazing produce for your family and community all while making a lucrative small business out of it.” – Jean Martin Fortier
In the Friday seminar Jean Martin (JM) will show you the many tools to his success including both physical techniques and management practices that enliven his agro-ecological approach to market gardening. He will use a combination of slides, lecture and interactive dialogue to uncover the steps he has taken to create Les Jardins de la Grelinette, his acclaimed micro-farm in Québec, Canada where he actively uses 1.5 acres cultivated in permanent beds, grossing than $100,000 per acre with operating margins of about 60 percent. He will also include details about the development of Ferme des Quatre-Temps, an educational project designed to demonstrate what the farm of tomorrow could look like using the latest agro-ecology and permaculture technology. All new and updated information will focus on working with living soils, new physical tools, computer-based organizational tools as well as developing standard operational procedures. Lunch is included for all attendees.
Students will gain the following insights from the seminar:
- Learn the principles of holistic farm set-up
- Review bio-intensive crop practices including rotations, nutrient management, pest & disease control, harvest and storage
- Develop insights of heightened efficiency using low inputs to gain high returns
- Explore specialized tools and management strategies for farming without tractors
- How to navigate markets and make informed decisions on crop production, pricing and timing of sales
New information not included in previous workshops:
Working with Living Soils. From perma-beds, to using Ramial chipped wood, to learning how to rely on compost teas and going beyond no-till in very specific ways.
New (newer) Tools for the Market Garden. Tools like double wheel hoes and flex tine cultivators can accelerate cultivation efficiencies ten fold while hacks in the wash station can change the way you farm. Farm management software may seem extravagant but can keep you well organized and able to enjoy the down time.
Why use standard operating procedures? SOP’s are sets of step-by-step instructions that help achieve efficiency, quality output and uniformity of performance with your crew. Examples, benefits and challenges.
We welcome a small number of attendees back for a half day on Saturday (8:00-noon) for an intimate, in-depth round-table. Jean Martin will keep the conversation focused on finding your niche markets, maximizing profits and budgeting for success. This session is limited to 15 attendees. All participants will have an opportunity to pitch their farm/business and troubleshoot areas of interest with Jean Martin and a small group of peers. Attendees will gain powerful knowledge about fine tuning a farm business through examples of JM”s whole farm plan, enterprise budgets and profit margin analysis. Lunch will be provided for all attendees. Friday’s seminar is not a prerequisite for the round-table but it will be helpful if you are not familiar with Jean Martin’s approach to market gardening.
Session 1: 8:00 – 10:00am
Mastermind Group: Hits and Misses from 2017
Participants will share their own success stories and failures from the 2017 growing season. The objective will be to examine and troubleshoot problems that each grower is personally facing as a group. JM’s experience with topics such as agro-ecological farming, determining niche markets for maximum profits and developing standard operating procedures will allow him to contribute and reference both physical and organizational tools that have served him well and how these can be integrated into any system.
Session 2: 10:00 – noon
Crop Planning and Farm Management
In the second session JM will walk you through his whole farm plan. With the use of farm management software (Tend) he will show you how to design seasonal crop rotations, establish field blocks, create calendars to track yields, break down farm labor costs and create enterprise budgets and determine profit margin analysis for various markets. Weather using a software platform or an excel spreadsheet this information will give you the insight to interpret important data that will influence your decisions.
This course is co-sponsored by the Center for an Agricultural Economy and the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT). Scholarship opportunities are available through NOFA-VT for Saturday’s Round-Table. Please contact Jen Miller for more details at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Level: Friday: Beginner – Intermediate/ Saturday: Intermediate – Advanced
Prerequisites: Students enrolling in the Friday seminar should have basic horticultural knowledge of growing vegetables commercially and some experience working on a farm as employees, interns, or volunteers. For those also attending Saturday’s roundtable, participants should have a minimum of 1 year experience in market gardening and/or vegetable production as an intern, employee or owner.
Tuition & Fees: Fri $60, Sat $85
Housing Availability & Fees: On-campus housing is not available for this course. We recommend the Highland Lodge in Greensboro, VT which offers breakfast and a daily shuttle to and from. For other recommendations please see our accommodations page.
Jean-Martin Fortier believes in replacing mass food production with food production by the masses. Along with his wife Maude-Hélène Desroches, he is the founder of Les Jardins de la Grelinette, an internationally recognized ten-acre micro-farm in Québec, Canada. With only 1.5 acres cultivated in permanent beds, the farm grosses more than $100,000 per acre with operating margins of about 60 per cent, enough to financially sustain his family. In his new farming project, Ferme des Quatre-Temps, he has set out to further demonstrate how diversified small-scale farms, using regenerative and economically efficient agricultural practices, can produce a higher nutritional quality of food and more profitable farms.
As an educator, Fortier places a strong emphasis on intelligent farm design, appropriate technologies, and harnessing the power of soil biology as key components of successful farming. A storyteller who can weave the technical aspects of farming with anecdotes from his farm, Fortier has facilitated hundreds of workshops, seminars and conferences in Canada, Europe, Australia, and the United States. He is the author of The Market Gardener: A Successful Grower’s Handbook for Small-Scale Organic Farming (New Society Publishers) and has been widely featured in the media, appearing on CBC, RDI Économie, Global News, The Montreal Gazette and more, as well as in countless specialized publications, radio shows, and podcasts.
Disclaimer: Course descriptions on this webpage are for informational purposes only. Content may be updated or change as planning evolves. Sterling College reserves the right to alter the program specifics, including details about course content, instructors, collaborations, field trips and facilities at any time without notice.