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Why Small-Scale Farming Is Important for our Future and How it Helps to Feed the World

The biointensive farming method applied by Jean-Martin Fortier makes it possible to obtain high crop yields on small-scale farms. It is respectful of the environment in addition to being very profitable for farms that practice small-scale organic farming. Let’s take a look at its many advantages. 

What Is Small-scale Organic Farming?

For people who want to start a small-scale vegetable farm, this model requires far lower initial investments. Credit / Alex Chabot.

The biointensive method that Jean-Martin Fortier and Maude-Hélène Desroches practice at their farm, Les Jardins de la Grelinette, and described by Jean-Martin in his first book The Market Gardener: A Successful Grower’s Handbook for Small-Scale Organic Farming is all about how to make a good living from cultivating a small amount of land  (i.e. one hectare which equates to roughly 2.5 acres or less). It is based on several key concepts, including maximizing yields from a small region, as well as using hand tools (instead of mechanized production), permanent raised bed systems, and organic farming methods, such as cover-cropping and compost application, to support ideal conditions for soil health and fertility. Interestingly, for people who want to start a small-scale vegetable farm, this model requires far lower initial investments compared to the costs involved when starting a large-scale conventional farm. 

Indeed, since the model is based on non-mechanization and the use of hand tools, starting a biointensive, small-scale farm requires less capital. In his book, Jean-Martin Fortier provides a complete list of expenses to get your farm up and running.

Agriculture that’s Good for Both People and the Planet.

Small-scale farming makes the agrarian dream more accessible. Credit / Jessica Théroux.

Small-scale farming makes the agrarian dream more accessible. Making a good living from a small piece of land is possible – and allows for more and more farmers to pursue their goals. What’s more is that unlike conventional farms, where start-up costs are exorbitant, launching a biointensive market garden requires very little in the way of initial costs, as it relies on accessible and inexpensive equipment such as hand tools and a tiller and focuses on growing better, not bigger. 

Human-scale regenerative farms use production techniques that promote biodiversity and improve soil health (carbon sequestering, building organic and mineral matter, encouraging soil microorganism growth, etc.). They don’t depend on the use of chemical pesticides or herbicides, which supports a healthier environment and a source of healthier, fresh food for local communities  

Finally, small farms foster relationships. Beyond connecting consumers to their food source, thanks to direct sales and the development of regional food systems, these types of farms reinforce the social fabric between cities and rural areas. They nurture the support and growth of vibrant communities and can help to create exceptional living environments for those who work on these farms while offering welcoming spaces for visiting city dwellers.

Are you curious to learn more about the main principles of small-scale biointensive organic farming and how this agricultural model can help change the world? We invite you to find out more in our online course Introduction to Market Gardening