For more than 20 years, Jean-Martin Fortier has been applying different techniques on his farms to grow vegetables in abundance while also taking care of soil life. Many of these techniques, often associated with permaculture, aim to diversify the life in the soil and to create a resilient ecosystem.
Naturally, these principles are behind the design of the Ferme des Quatre-temps in Hemmingford, Quebec. On this holistic farm, animals (cattle, pigs and chickens) coexist alongside a large market garden of over 5 acres. The size of the cultivated plot is justified by the fact that the farm offers a mentoring program. This program allows about a dozen people to learn the trade of market gardening for 2 years in accordance with the biointensive method used by Jean-Martin.
One of the interesting features that characterize this farm and Jean-Martin’s general approach, is that the cultivable plot of land has been set up with a system of permanent beds whose dimensions have been standardized. These beds are then organized into blocks which are then bordered by hedgerows containing trees, shrubs, perennials and flowers. These flowering hedgerows aim to create a diversified ecosystem allowing pollinators and other predatory insects to occupy the space. This system minimizes the negative impacts of pests on crops. This is an attempt to bring together the best of biointensive market gardening and permaculture.
Join Jean-Martin on a farm tour:
Click here if you haven’t seen our latest video Why choose farming? Jean-Martin Fortier weighs in on the question. (Video) and for more videos on managing a small-scale farm, we invite you to subscribe to our YouTube channel.