Below are some of the works I used to write The Market Gardener, as well as newer books that I find useful when operating a vegetable micro-farm. Whenever possible I try to support the author and/or the publishing house.
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
Most how-to farming books will discuss the biology, management and/or tool part of growing veggies, but fail to acknowledge the importance of the farm’s overall set-up. This is where this book breaks new ground.
By exposing the farm layout of different (successful) operations and describing how these influences productivity and efficiency, this books provides great insights about scale, design and patterning for small-scale farming.
I recommend more than reading it, I would invite growers to study it well. Figure out the common « patterns » from each of these successful farms and emulate these, it’ll surely bring you where you wanna go, but faster.
Guide de l’autoconstruction : Outils pour le maraîchage biologique. Édition Adabio-Itab, 2012. Adabio is a coalition of French organic farmers who share their agricultural machine designs in a DIY and open source fashion. This instruction manual is geared toward tractor implements, but the merit and quality of the book makes it well worth a look. In French.
The Good Food Revolution: Growing Healthy Food, People, and Communities. Allen, Will and Charles Wilson. Gotham books, 2012. Will Allen is the founder of Growing Power, an innovative urban farm located in downtown Milwaukee. This book tells his story. Available from Amazon and Amazon Canada.
Manage Insects on Your Farm: A Guide to Ecological Strategies. Miguel A. Altieri, Clara I. Nicholls, and Marlene A. Fritz. Sustainable Agriculture Network, 2005. This book explains how to set up your farm to mitigate the impact of certain insect pests. Although devised for California-type weather, the principles of ecological pest management are universal. Available from Amazon and Amazon Canada.
Les bois raméaux fragmentés. De l’arbre au sol. Eléa Asselineau and Gilles Domenech. Éditions du Rouergue, 2007. Ramial chipped wood (RCW) is a specific soil regeneration technique invented and developed in Quebec. This book explains the why and the how of it, including the basics of adding forest materials onto vegetable production systems. It’s the only book I know on the subject. In French.
Fearless Farm Finances: Farm Financial Management Demystified. Chris Blanchard, Paul Dietmann and Craig Chase. Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service, 2012. This book will help you understand basic financial management on your farm—how to collect and use numbers in ways that will give you real information that is helpful in making farm decisions. Available from Amazon and Amazon Canada.
Greenhorns: 50 Dispatches from the New Farmers’ Movement. Zoe Ida Bradbury, Severine von Tscharner Fleming, and Paula Manalo. Storey Publishing LLC, 2012. This is a feel good book about who we are as movement. Reading it will most certainly make you want jump on the bandwagon. Available from Amazon and Amazon Canada.
Le sol, la terre et les champs : Pour retrouver une agriculture saine. Claude and Lydia Bourguignon. Éditions Sang de la Terre, 2008. The two authors are among the rare soil microbiologists researching the effects of conventional agriculture on organisms living underground. This book helps you to understand how the soil’s fauna plays a key role in soil fertility and how fragile this system can be. A leading document in French agroecology. In French.
Market Farming Success, Revised and Expanded Edition: The Business of Growing and Selling Local Food. Lynn Byczynski. Chelsea Green Publishing, 2013. The author is the editor of Growing for Market, a market gardening periodical published since 1992. Byczynski knows her stuff, and in this book she discusses, among other topics, the differences between market gardens, market farms, and vegetable farms and the income that can be expected from each scale of production. A must read for the aspiring market gardener. Available directly from Chelsea Green Publishing.
Resource Guide for Organic Insect and Disease Management, 2nd ed. Brian Caldwell, Eric Sideman, Abby Seaman, Anthony Shelton, and Christine D. Smart. New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, 2005. Currently one of the few reference guides that describe biopesticides (where they come from and what effects they have) along with diseases and insect pests.
Managing Cover Crops Profitably, 3rd ed. Andy Clark, editor. SARE Outreach, 2012. One of the most comprehensive and useful documents on green manures. Updated regularly and available for free online.
The New Organic Grower: A Master’s Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener, 2nd ed. Eliot Coleman. Chelsea Green Publishing, 1995. This classic is the first book on vegetable growing that I read and remains the most influential. Although the technical information is sometimes incomplete, the book is still a good introduction to growing on a small scale. Written by a grower, for growers.
The Winter Harvest Handbook:Year-Round Vegetable Production Using Deep Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses. Eliot Coleman. Chelsea Green Publishing, 2009. Another one of my favorite books, this work is a testament to Coleman’s 40 years of horticultural experience and innovation. This is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in extending his or her growing season. Available directly from Chelsea Green Publishing (US only), Amazon and Amazon Canada.
Solviva, How to Grow $500,000 on One Acre and Peace on Earth. Anna Edey. Trailblazer Press, 1998. A little-known but very interesting book that discusses the idea of integrating a salad farming operation into a solar home and greenhouse. Filled with great ideas.
The Organic Gardener’s Handbook of Natural Insect and Disease Control. A Complete Problem-Solving Guide to Keeping Your Garden and Yard Healthy Without Chemicals. Barbara W. Ellis and Fern Marshall Bradley, editors. Rodale Books, 1996. One of the better books out there about biocontrol of insect pests and diseases.
Sharing the Harvest: A Citizen’s Guide to Community Supported Agriculture. Elizabeth Henderson and Robyn Van En, 2007. A very comprehensive look at the CSA model. Farmers will find lots of useful advice on structuring and organizing a CSA share program. Available from Chelsea Green Publishing (US only), Amazon and Amazon Canada.
The Resilient Farm and Homestead: An Innovative Permaculture and Whole Systems Design Approach. Ben Falk. Chelsea Green Publishing, 2013. One of the better permaculture books recently published. Although written for the homestead, this book gives great insights into how technical (and worthwhile) the design stage of setting up a farm can get. Available from Chelsea Green Publishing (US only), Amazon and Amazon Canada.
The Natural Way of Farming : The Theory and Practice of Green Philosophy. Masanobu Fukuoka. Other India Press, 1985. Fukuoka’s works are seminal texts for those interested in permaculture. The author’s approach is quite radical. Available from Amazon and Amazon Canada.
Whole Farm Planning: Ecological Imperatives, Personal Values, and Economics. Elizabeth Henderson and Karl North. Chelsea Green Publishing, 2004. This book draws on the theory of holistic management, adapting it to the context of diversified market farming. Useful for understanding the importance of setting financial objectives (and non-financial objectives) at the very beginning of crop planning. Available from Chelsea Green Publishing (US only), Amazon and Amazon Canada.
Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture: A Practical Guide to Small-Scale, Integrative Farming and Gardening. Sepp Holzer. Chelsea Green Publishing, 2011. Sepp Holzer is a living legend in permaculture circles. The ideas that he proposes are based on his own experience, which is, alas, rare among those who write about permaculture. Available from Chelsea Green Publishing (US only), Amazon and Amazon Canada.
The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependency to Local Resilience. Rob Hopkins. Green Books, 2008. This book explains how to organize our communities for the end of cheap oil. It focuses not on the catastrophe, but instead on positive changes we must make at the local level. A must-read. Available from Amazon and Amazon Canada.
Diseases and Pests of Vegetable Crops in Canada. Ronald J. Howard, J. Allan Garland, and W. Lloyd Seaman, editors. The Entomological Society of Canada, 2007. The best reference book for identifying insect pests and crop diseases in Canada. Available as a free download from the Canadian Phytopathological Society.
High-Yield Gardening: How to Get More from Your Garden Space and More from Your Gardening Season. Marjorie B. Hunt and Brenda Bortz. Rodale, 1986. One of the first resource books we consulted on intensive growing techniques. The methods described are for a non-commercial scale. Available from Amazon and Amazon Canada.
How to Grow More Vegetables and Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains and Other Crops Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You Can Imagine, 8th edition. John Jeavons . Ten Speed Press, 2012. This celebrated work is well worth the read even though much emphasis is placed on double-digging, which is not essential in my view. Available from Amazon and Amazon Canada.
The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food and Love. Kristin Kimball. Scribner, 2010. Essex Farm is one of the most interesting farms I have visited. In this book, the author, who co-owns the business, recounts the beginnings of the farm’s CSA project. It provides a good description of the harsh reality of the first years of establishing a farm along with some lessons that can be drawn, and the payoff after many years of hard dirty work. Available from Amazon and Amazon Canada.
EM : Les micro-organismes efficaces pour le jardin. Tatsuo Kuroda. Le Courrier du Livre, 2010. This is not the best book on gardening, but it is one of the few currently available that gives recommended doses of effective micro-organisms (EM) in the garden, a topic that interests me. In French.
Sustainable Market Farming: Intensive Vegetable Production on a Few Acres. Pam Dawling. New Society Publishers, 2013. A reference book like Dawling’s was long in the waiting. Intended for serious growers, it gives a comprehensive overview of growing techniques and practices for almost every vegetable. A good addition to any market gardener’s library. Print and eBook available from New Society Publishers, Amazon and Amazon Canada.
Earth Ponds: The Country Pond Maker’s Guide to Building , Maintenance, and Restoration, 3rd ed. Tim Matson. Countryman Press, 2012. This guide contains all the considerations and steps involved in creating a lake or pond to serve as an ecological habitat. This book is well-written and penned by a foremost authority on the topic. Available from Amazon and Amazon Canada.
Teeming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener’s Guide to the Soil Food Web. Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis. Timber Press, 2010. A wonderful book that clearly describes the living systems contained within the soil. Helps us understand the perverse effects of inverting soil and how biology can replace mechanical tillage. A must-read. Available from Amazon and Amazon Canada.
Building Soils for Better Crops: Sustainable Soil Management. Fred Magdoff and Harold Van Es. SARE Outreach, 2009. This book describes the relationship between soil biology and organic crop fertilization by focusing on organic matter management. Written in an engaging and easy-to-read style. Available for free download from Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education or purchase from Amazon and Amazon Canada.
Permaculture One: A Perennial Agriculture for Human Settlements. Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. Tagari, 1981. This book is a veritable encyclopedia of permaculture. Even though the ideas presented are more relevant for a subtropical climate, the concepts are universal. Available from Amazon and Amazon Canada.
Manuel pratique de la culture maraîchère de Paris. J. G. Moreau and J. J. Daverne. Imprimerie Bouchard-Huzard, 1845. An extraordinary reference document detailing the growing practices of French market gardeners of the 19th century. Reading about their methods makes you realize how these growers were amazingly productive. Out of print, but available through Abebooks.com. In French.
Living the Good Life: How to Live Sanely and Simply in a Troubled World. Helen and Scott Nearing. Schocken Books, 1973. This book is an American back-to-the-land classic. It recounts the adventures of an eminent communist professor and his young theosophist wife, who moved out into the country in the 1930s to lead a self-sufficient life. Their life philosophy, presented in the context of the era, makes for a unique read. Available from Amazon and Amazon Canada.
Une agriculture qui goûte autrement : Histoires de productions locales de l’Amérique du Nord à l’Europe. Raymond, Hélène and Jacques Mathé. Éditions MultiMondes, 2011. This collection of inspiring farming stories endeavours to map the small-scale agriculture movement that is currently emerging in Europe and the Americas. In French.
Sustainist Design Guide: How Sharing , Localism, Connectedness and Proportionality Are Creating a New Agenda for Social Design. Michiel Schwarz and Diana Krabbendam. BIS Publishers, 2013. This book doesn’t talk about farming, nor about vegetable growing, but it taps into other skill sets that are vital for successful market gardening. Available from Amazon and Amazon Canada.
Mycelium Running : How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World. Paul Stamets. Ten Speed Press, 2005. A great book, making a major contribution towards our understanding of the importance of mycelium in the creation of soil. Available from Amazon and Amazon Canada.
Crop Planning for Organic Vegetable Growers. Frédéric Thériault and Daniel Brisebois. Canadian Organic Growers, 2010. This is the best book on crop planning. It uses the example of a young couple starting a farm to present its method —a very practical approach. Available from Canadian Organic Growers, Amazon and Amazon Canada.
From the Fryer to the Fuel Tank: The Complete Guide to Using Vegetable Oil as an Alternative Fuel. Joshua Tickell. Joshua Tickell Publications, 2003. For 10 years now, we have been powering our vehicles with recycled vegetable oil. The author covers the topic thoroughly in this book and shows the reader how to convert a diesel vehicle, step by step. Available from Amazon and Amazon Canada.
Secrets of the Soil: New Solutions for Restoring Our Planet. Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird. Earthpulse Press, 1998. Although admittedly esoteric, this is one of my favorite books. It helps us to imagine what discoveries could be found if science got interested ecological agriculture. A fascinating work. Available from Amazon and Amazon Canada.
Eco-Farm: An Acres U.S.A. Primer, 3rd ed. Charles Walters. Acres U.S.A., 2003. This was written by the founder of Acres U.S.A., one of the first organizations to make the case for an ecological approach to agriculture from a scientific perspective. While it is not an easy read, it does allow the reader to deepen his or her understanding of soil with respect to fertilization. Available from Acres USA, Amazon and Amazon Canada.
Walking to Spring: Using High Tunnels to Grow Produce 52 Weeks a Year. Paul and Alison Wiediger. Au Naturel Farm, 2003. Market farmers from Kentucky, the Wiedigers share much of their learned experience in this self-published guide. A good primer for growing in hoophouses even though written for warmer climates than that of the Northeast. Currently out of print.
The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook: A Complete Guide to Managing Finances, Crop, and Staff—and Making a Profit. Richard Wiswall. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2009. Written by a veteran grower, this book discusses the financial aspect of running a CSA vegetable farm. The chapter on planning for retirement is especially interesting. Available from Chelsea Green Publishing (US only), Amazon and Amazon Canada.