Jean-Martin Fortier started his farm on a two-acre rented property. They have upsized to a 10 acre farm with two acres to make a living on. Fortier and his wife’s lifestyle is frugal, but they are able to make a living. Using raised beds and forsaking a tractor, they are able to reduce their operating costs. They use a method that allows their crops to grow very close together with very deep roots. This is able to happen because they leave out the tractor and therefore do not have to use traditional row planting with spacing for large tractor tires.
Their crop planning allows them to maximize the health of their soil and their production per short growing season in Quebec. They start their plants in their greenhouse so they can plant the next crop rapidly after the previous crop is harvested. They feed 140 families through their participation in a CSA and additional farmers markets feeding a total of nearly 250 families.
Their growing season does ends around Christmas and begins again around march. They use wind tunnels/high tunnels, caterpillar tunnels, and other techniques that allow them to grow freeze resistant crops. Through pushing the limits of low-tech systems, they are able to make a living farming off a small amount of land.
The Fortiers act as living proof that anyone can farm in some capacity. With the right system and planning, microfarming can have surprisingly macro impact. The process is extremely technical though and requires trial, error, and training. Education of this sort could be valuable to communities who aren’t able to access fresh food regularly. If the Fortiers can generate a 9 month growing season in Quebec, we can definitely do so in Ohio. One of the challenges is lack of mentorship and acceptance of these methods.