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Market gardening: Food grown with care by and for people who care

Our vision is to live in a flourishing world, where food is grown with care, by and for people who care.

Photo of Suleyka Montpetit
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Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

The Market Gardener

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small company (under 50 employees)

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

La Fermette, la Ferme de la Grelinette, la Ferme des Quatre Temps

Website of Legally Registered Entity

https://www.themarketgardener.com/course/

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 10+ years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Montréal

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

Canada

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Montérégie, Québec

What country is your selected Place located in?

Canada

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

Jean-Martin Fortier, co-founder of The Market Gardener, was born in Quebec in 1978. 

He is the founder of Les Jardins de la Grelinette, a micro-farm in Saint-Armand, Quebec. The farm quickly achieved profitability and productivity using biologically intensive cropping systems, positioning itself as an innovative model that could revolutionize Quebec’s agriculture industry. 

The highly efficient and sustainable methods of production have become the bases of Fortier’s bestselling book, The Market Gardener: A Successful Grower's Handbook for Small-Scale Organic Farming. In addition to this, Fortier started to share his knowledge through conferences and workshops and to work with stakeholders from all horizons to advance the cause. 

Recognized for his broad expertise and his potential to inspire change, Fortier was recruited in 2015 by André Desmarais, a Canadian businessman, to design and operate a model farm in Hemmingford, Québec. The mission of this new farm, named La Ferme des Quatre-Temps, is to demonstrate how small-scale farms, using regenerative and economically efficient agricultural practices, can produce a higher nutritional quality of food and be more profitable than conventional agriculture. Furthermore, La Ferme des Quatre-Temps became a talent incubator, training a dozen of new growers every season so they can later start their own farm using Fortier’s methods. Their work has been documented in the television series Les Fermiers. 

To facilitate knowledge transfer and save time, Fortier launched in 2017 The Market Gardener's Masterclass, an online program detailing the exact methodologies, tools and techniques he uses to run a small-scale farm. Open to everyone and self-paced, the organic farming online course has a great democratizing effect, allowing even more people in Quebec to take their market gardening to the next level, for the good of the planet. 

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

Monteregie is part of Quebec, the only province of Canada where French is the official language. The region gets its name from its rolling hills (mounts), whose fertile lands have been shaped by the seigneurial system under the French colonization. Unlike the northern territories of Quebec, where long winter seasons dominate, Monteregie’s climate is cold and temperate.

Known today as “Quebec’s pantry”, the Montérégie region is strategically important for food production and processing. The quality of the soil and the favorable climate of southern Quebec have allowed the evolution of highly specialized agriculture, renowned for its dairy and vegetable production, livestock products and orchards. The agricultural area (953,402 hectares) covers about 86% of the territory. Nearly 60% of this area is cultivated, which represents a quarter of the cultivated land in Quebec. 

The regional economy is based on agriculture, the production of goods, services and tourism. 

As a result of the immigration and birth rate, the Montérégie region has had one of the highest population growth rates in Quebec for more than 30 years. If from 2001 to 2010 the population of Quebec increased by 7%, the population of Montérégie grew by 10% to reach a population of 1 439 799. 

However, the lack of a new generation of farmers is a major issue. Urban sprawl is a growing phenomenon, while the regions lose their vitality and their population declines. In Montérégie, the ratio of emerging farmers to yielding agricultural producers is around one to four; 10 years ago, it was one for two. 

Due to its geographic location between Ontario and the United States, and its proximity to Montreal, the Montérégie has a diverse population and culture.

The average income per capita (2013) is 26,112$.

What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)

11112

What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?

1500000

Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

>Food system that is not built to feed communities 

Quebec is facing major issues and the time for action is now or never. In addition to generating a myriad of challenges, conventional commercial agriculture does not feed our communities culturally, nutritionally or economically. 

>Loss of sovereignty in the area of food production

Farmers under the current agricultural system are dependent on large amounts of inputs and non-renewable energy such as oil and, more so, on massive corporations that provide them with these agrochemicals, machinery, seeds and financial support. In the near future, with fossil fuel depletion and higher prices, the situation will get worse. 

>Economic Model Is Failing

Conventional agriculture has not been able to deliver on it’s promise of heightened profits, net farm income for agricultural producers in Québec decrease annually. (loss of net farm income of $3.9 billion in 2018). 

More so, conventional agriculture requires an extremely high investment, both in terms of land and equipment. This contributes to unequal access to agricultural land, and lead farmers to a downward spiral of debt. As a result, the number of farms is decreasing in Quebec (-8600 farms in 20 years).

>Loss of quality of life and culture

Conventional agriculture imposes a difficult lifestyle on farmers, Farm operators are exposed to higher levels of stress, anxiety and depression than the general population.  Indeed, a recent study of the Canadian labour force reminds us that agricultural work is among the occupations most at risk for suicide mortality. (Mortality rate among men of 31.4 suicides/100,000 people per year)

>Rural flight creates a lack of new farmers 

People are leaving our countrysides for lack of economic opportunities and communities are slowly withering. All the while, production is being consolidated between a smaller number of big players that are highly dependent on seasonal foreign workers.  

Meanwhile, The economical barriers and loss of traditional knowledge has created a significant void in the establishment of a young generation of farmers.  Today's labour shortages are a considerable challenge for producers. Without a new generation to take over, the global food supply is at risk. 

>Impact of industrial agriculture on health

Conventional agriculture, with its pesticides, chemical fertilisers, GMOs, long-distance transport and lack of diversity, is not the natural answer to our food needs. Over the past 60 years, the level of vitamins and minerals in fruit and vegetables has declined alarmingly. 

Food has a direct impact on health. A lack of access to healthy foods, especially fruits and vegetables, is a determinant of problems such as obesity. 

>Conventional agriculture is destroying the environment 

In Quebec - as elsewhere in the world - agriculture causes environmental problems, including soil deterioration, surface and groundwater contamination, gas and odour emissions, habitat degradation and loss of biodiversity. Protecting and restoring ecosystems and their uses in agricultural regions is thus a major challenge for society. 

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

> A movement towards greater food sovereignty 

Market gardening guarantees short food supply chains, that ensure that farmers and communities control their food system and diminish their dependency on agribusinesses. 

> Improving The Living Conditions Of Farmers

Jean-Martin Fortier's bio-intensive method aims to ensure a good living for farmers on a small acreage. The methodology, tools and techniques he uses and teaches are all oriented toward efficiency, thus helping them save time, energy and effort while increasing yields and profits. 

> Reconnecting Consumers and Farmers in the Food System

Nowadays, most consumers have no sense of where their food actually comes from. Market gardening uses cooperation and marketing techniques that bring people together. Producers develop strong ties with the families they feed allowing them to feel more connected to the land. 

> Rural Revitalization Through Small Farms

To inspire people back to farming, we must propose techniques that contribute to building a better future. 

The extraordinary enthusiasm for the book The Market Gardener shows that something is happening (sold over 150 000 copies worldwide). A movement has born since the beginnings of La Grelinette Farm. Many small farms and markets have sprung up, building a vibrant community that is undoubtedly contributing to rural revitalization. In 1996, there were just seven small farmers delivering their produce to drop-off points in Montreal, according to the non-profit group Équiterre. By 2014, the number of farmers had reached 101.

Our promotion of human-scale, ecological and profitable farming, is empowering people to embrace small-scale farming and build a food system based on nature and community.

> Organic farming: a solution for the environment and our diets

Small-scale organic farming provides tasty, healthy and nutritious food with a sustainable model. Practices taught by Jean-Martin Fortier reduce pollution, conserve water, reduce soil erosion, increase soil fertility, and use less energy. It does not contaminate watercourses, and neither causes damage to the surrounding flora and fauna. Under this model, cultivated soils contain more organic matter and thus sequester more carbon. 

Because they're sold to the nearby community, in farmer’s markets or directly to families, fruits and veggies are still full of vitamins and minerals when they are consumed. 

> Mentoring and Cooperation As The Driving Force
It is important, in order to overturn the system, to teach the profession of market gardening. Mentoring and peer group cooperation is at the core of the model. At La Grelinette Farm and Quatre Temps Farm, we welcome trainees and apprentices in order to train the next generation. Many students have pursued very successful careers, such as La Fermette and Les Jardins du chat noir. 

>Accelerating agriculture's transition through education

Our vision is to live in a flourishing world, where food is grown with care, by and for people who care. 

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

In 2050,

We live in a world where we can feed ourselves in harmony with nature. Regenerative small-scale farms are replacing the poison and destruction of industrial agriculture with a food system based on nature and community. We leave a legacy for nature.

We live in a world where soil is precious, water is life, air is our breath, that the land is sacred. Respectful of our privileged environment, we grow food sustainably according to permaculture’s philosophy. The soil is healthy, as well as the ambient nature, where it feels good to live. People get back to the land.

We live in a world where we own our food system, a system that is ecological and human-scale. Communities choose what food to grow, what food to eat, where it comes from and how it is grown. Products are diverse, tasty and nutritious, full of vitamins and minerals. Communities are healthy. 

We live in a world where farmers are respected and honored. Thanks to better living and working conditions, they emerge from isolation. The community not only worships all the work that farming implies but understands its vital role in protecting health and life. Farmers inspire the next generation.  

We live in a world where food connects us to the web of life and each other in the most tangible way. Because of short food supply chains, we know our farmer, we know our food and we connect with our roots, engaging with the cycle that keeps us alive. We share those precious moments within the community, making sure the traditional knowledge transcends generations. 

Our vision is to live in a flourishing world, where food is grown with care, by and for people who care.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Website

3 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Spam
Photo of Lauren Ito
Team

Hi gaelle janvier great to see you joining the Prize!

We noticed your submission is currently unpublished. Was this your intention? We'd love to have your submission included in the Prize. Even if you've not started populating your Vision just yet, by publishing your submission you can make it public for other teams in your region to see, get in touch and possibly even collaborate with you.

You can publish it by hitting the "Publish" button at the top of your post. You can also update your Vision at any time before 31 January 2020 by clicking on the "Edit Contribution" on top. If you need inspiration or guidance, take a look at the Food Vision Prize Toolkit. linked here: http://bit.ly/2X4ZxQk

Look forward to seeing your Vision evolve through the coming weeks.

Spam
Photo of Suleyka Montpetit
Team

Hi! we have been working on a better version offline. I will publish it soon! thanks you for the followup :)

Spam
Photo of Lauren Ito
Team

Thanks for the update gaelle janvier !