Market Gardening

Recommended Resources for The Market Gardener:

Note: This is a list of our “favorites.”  It is very incomplete and leaves out a lot of good resources, but at least it’s a starting point… The volume of information on small scale farming is increasing rapidly, so it is becoming harder to keep this up-to-date!

Books & Magazines

The New Organic Grower by Eliot Coleman, Subtitled “A Master’s Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener.”  My original inspiration for farming, and one of the main textbooks we still use for our Apprenticeship Program.  Should be required reading for anyone considering large-scale gardening or market farming. Last revised in 1995, it is showing it’s age, but much of the information shared is timeless.

The Market Gardener by Jean-Martin Fortier.  One of the most exciting new books to come out in the last few years!  Jean-Martin is “standing on the shoulders” of Eliot Coleman and details how he is making a comfortable living on 1 ½ acres  of intensively grown vegetables - without tractors and other large equipment or investment. This is the best “manual” I have found for success - but it doesn’t include all the information found in The New Organic Grower, so I still recommend both.  This is our other textbook for apprentices.

The Winter Harvest Handbook by Eliot Coleman, Subtitled “Year-Round Vegetable Production Using Deep-Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses.” The manual for winter growing from the country’s undisputed leader.  He does it in Maine with unheated greenhouses!  If he can do it, so can you! Simple, low-cost techniques. The pictures of his farm are worth the price of the book.

The Urban Farmer by Curtis Stone. Subtitled “Growing Food for Profit on Leased and Borrowed Land.” At first glance, you may think this book is irrelevant, but Curtis is one of the most progressive market gardeners out there. Whether you are in a rural or urban setting, the principles and techniques he shares are extremely valuable for profitability.

The Lean Farm by Ben Hartman. The subtitle, “How to Minimize Waste, Increase Efficiency, and Maximize Value and Profits with Less Work,” should make every market gardener’s ears perk up! This book does an excellent job of helping you look for ways to make your farm more efficient and profitable. Not a book on how to be a market gardener, this is a book on how to be a smarter market gardener

The Lean Farm Guide to Growing Vegetables by Ben Hartman. Subtitled “More In-Depth Lean Techniques for Efficient Organic Production.” Ben takes the lean methods he outlined in his first book and shows in more detail how he is using them on his own farm. More practical and detailed than his first book, but doesn’t replace it.

Sustainable Market Farming by Pam Dawling.  This is a very comprehensive (over 400 pages) year-round guide for the small-scale farmer in every climate zone.  Divided into two main sections, part 1 is “Techniques,” and part 2 is “Crops,” with an in-depth look at how to grow all major vegetable varieties.  Great reference book!

Market Farming Success by Lynn Byczynski.  Lynn was the founder and long-time editor of “Growing for Market” magazine. She has written an easily readable book on how to succeed in market farming.  A great introduction to those considering growing for a living.  Newly revised and better than ever!

Family Friendly Farming by Joel Salatin. The unfortunate reality is that most children who grow up on farms leave them for “greener pastures.” This book is about how to change that. Great ideas on how to help your children find a future for themselves on the farm and then how to pass the farm on to the next generation.

Managing Cover Crops Profitably.  The best book on cover crops.  Great go-to resource.  Available as a free download on SARE website (see below)

The Greenhouse and Hoophouse Grower’s Handbook, by Andrew Mefferd. Andrew takes the accumulated knowledge from all his years as a greenhouse growing technician at Johnny’s Selected Seeds, and walks you through the eight most profitable crops to grow under cover (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, leafy greens, lettuce, herbs, microgreens), with detailed information on how to manage each one. Andrew is the current editor of “Growing for Market” magazine.

“Growing for Market” Magazine.  Published 10 times per year and worth every penny of the subscription!  Articles are practical and written by successful farmers.  I gain tips from every one that pay for the cost of the year’s subscription. The whole 25+ years are available in an electronic, searchable format on their website (for a price)

Counsels on Agriculture, by Ellen G. White. This book answers the question, “Why am I doing this?” It’s about more than earning a living; It’s about mental, physical, and spiritual growth; It’s about learning to walk with God; It’s about growing characters for eternity! Don’t get sidetracked by the business of agriculture.

Internet Resources - A growing selection of tools and supplies for the market gardener. - A record-keeping software system for planning, planting, and harvesting. - A new software platform that includes record-keeping, marketing, and a full suite of tools for the small, diversified farm. Very promising! - A free solution for taking credit cards, having a cash register (using a smartphone or tablet) and tracking sales. - Online farmer’s market - A CSA management software - CSA management as well as website development and hosting. - An incredible information resource for all things in sustainable and organic agriculture.  Has publications on almost every crop and activity associated with agriculture. - Not only the best monthly magazine for market gardeners, but also a good resource for books and information particularly relevant to small farmers. - Government funded source of information for sustainable agriculture.  Free books available for download. - An amazing resource. Interviews with successful farmers done in a way that gives you lots of practical information to take to the field. Interviews with Curtis Stone, Brian Bates, Jean-Martin Fortier, Jeremy Mueller and Conner Crickmore are especially recommended. - An incredible collection of short videos covering every aspect of market gardening. Curtis has become the premier on-line market gardening tutor. - Two complete years of a weekly Curtis Stone episode, plus an audiobook of The Market Gardener, plus many other farming resources. - Curtis Stone’s online market gardening course. Approximately $1000, but probably some of the best money you could spend. - Conner Crickmore is taking the Market Gardening Revolution to new heights with the amazing profitability and efficiency of his farm. Now he has a detailed, online course to share his secrets. $2000, but a very inexpensive education! He is also beginning to post more videos on YouTube. -  Jean Martin Fortier is jumping on the online training bandwagon as well. I haven’t seen this one yet, but am sure it will be well worth the money.

Seed Catalogs Geared for Market Gardeners:

Johnny’s Selected Seeds, 1-877-564-6697, (Maine)

Lightning-fast service, extremely informative catalog, all our favorite tools.

High Mowing Organic Seeds, 1-802-472-6174, (Vermont)

All organic, fast service, great catalog, quickly becoming my first choice in seed catalogs.

Fedco, 1-207-873-7333, (Maine)

A seed cooperative with inexpensive seed and good selection.  Entertaining catalog.  They do not buy seeds from companies owned by Monsanto.

Catalogs for Organic Fertilizers & Pest Control, etc.:

Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply, 1-888-784-1722, (California).  The most exhaustive catalog of everything organic (including seeds) available anywhere!  It’s an education all by itself.  Shipping can hurt.

Seven Springs Farm, 1800-540-9181, (Virginia)

A nice selection of products covering everything you need.

Deerfield Supplies, 1-270-265-2425, (Kentucky) Mennonite owned, great pricing, increasing selection of organic supplies, close to (my) home!  Cheapest source for irrigation and seedstarting supplies, rowcover, and much more.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds and Fedco Seeds (see seed catalogs above) both have good selections of organic supplies.