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Market Gardening Master Class: Bio-Intensive Crop Production

16 Sterling Drive
Craftsbury Common, VT

This five-day intensive class, led by acclaimed Market Gardener Jean-Martin Fortier, covers the key features and elements that make up a successful market gardening operation. Special attention will be given to the four areas of focus: farm set-up, bio-intensive practices, management strategies for farming without tractors, and planning off fields. The class also includes tours of two unique and profitable farm projects located in the nearby province of Québec.

On day one, we will study farm set-up. From site assessments to farm design, this module will explore the key elements to consider when planning out a new micro-scale farming project. On day two, we will explore the key components of the bio-intensive practices, covering everything from crop spacing to soil management (and many subjects in between). We will also learn about the specialized tools and techniques that allow intensive system to be efficient and effective. During day four, we will cover management strategies for farming without tractors, studying best practices for weed management, planting, transplanting, soil preparation and harvesting on small plots. By day four, we’ll be ready to visit the instructor’s two farm projects in Québec—Les Jardins de la Grelinette, a ten-acre farm with 1.5 acres of permanent beds, and la Ferme des Quatre-Temps, a 160-acre farm with seven acres of permanent raised beds—both of which are designed and run as bio-intensive market garden. These field trips will provide “behind the scenes” access, and will allow students to witness the concepts in action. With the foundational knowledge from the first three days, students will be able to more than just observe the farm design and planning; they will be able to formulate and ask incisive questions about these operations and consider how they relate to their own farms. On the final day of the course, students will explore efficient crop planning and learn a variety of tools for enabling systemization of management practices.