An insider's guide to market gardening and farming for those in the business of growing and selling food, flowers, herbs, or plants. Market Farming Success identifies the key areas that usually trip up beginners, and shows how to avoid those obstacles. This book will help the aspiring or beginning farmer advance quickly and confidently through the inevitable learning curve of starting a new business. Written by Lynn Byczynski, editor of the magazineGrowing for Markets, this book is a good starting point fro those that are intentioned to get into market gardening, having some help on what mistakes can be avoided, and how to really think out many aspects of our business's as choosing the market we want to sell in, be it a niche market or not, selecting the right products and complexity we want to establish.
This book is of interest for a specific set of readers. It sits close to books like The market gardener by Fortier, but in a very specific way.
Lynn Byczynski comes from a vast personal experience in market gardening and as editor and publisher of Growing for Market has tons of experience in the real world of market gardening.
Why do I put this book aside Fortier's but view it differently? Beacuse this work all though it does share information on how to grow specific crops or the tools one may need, has a different starting perspective. It is more on the business side than field side. Thats what makes it a very interesting read. We have a lot of books on how to garden but few take us down the path of knowing what will happen when we decide to walk into market gardening.
Lynn shares a few numbers in the first pages of the book, on farmers markets, in 1994 in the US there were 1755 listed farmers markets, we jump to a 7864 in 2012, of course given the difficulty in collecting data on this independent and grassroots world, the data is not definitive, but it shows that the increase is substantial throughout the US, and in near Canada I would add, not wanting to enter a european count.
We just have to see how many books are being published on the subject to understand how there is growing interest in market farming, the list of titles is long.
This said, what do the numbers tell us? it is a growing world and a competitive world, when investing what ever sum we have on a business like this we have to know what to expect and how to move around.
This is where I think Lynn's book shares an interesting and new perspective on the topic.
The author starts from showing the different types of farms one can set up, from CSA's, to agritourism's or U-pick farms. What do we want to invest on?
As Lynn puts it: "most beginners don't lack knowledge on growing; what they do lack is an understanding of how to grow on a commercial scale." We have to understand planning, budgeting and marketing. It's no simple world but not even an impossible one. Usually one reads these great news of five figure market farmers as Fortier or Curtis Stone (that has just published a book: the urban farmer), but the enthusiast may not stop to think that it's not all smiles and ease, not even Fortier and Stone say its easy but I think Lynn has shared the right perspective on the entrepreneurial side of market gardening.
Is this a book that speaks of permaculture? no, but is it a good read for those that in a permacultural perspective want to set up a market farm, or make market farming part of a more complex designed system? yes I believe so.
having analysed the types of farms we can set up the author takes down the road of deciding what to grow. Especially those that have gardening experience may think its worth growing everything one can grow, but are there crops that give more money and quicker? yes, when setting up a farm, planning the first growing seasons well is necessary, otherwose it can be time consuming and kill our enthusiasm.
how to choose the land we want to grow crops on, do we buy it or rent it?
What techniques are best and how can you sell your product, does one necessarily want to go to the farmers market or are there other selling streams?
Up to legal aspects and management, the book touches nearly every topic one can think of in market farming.
One section I loved is on the importance of the name and the logo of the farm we set up, she shares nice ideas on this point.
The book ends with a big section on where to learn more, associations, etc, and an appendix on the standards for grading of fruit and vegetables and how they are sold.
This book is based on a US market farming world but I think, starting from my experience based in Italy, is of interest even outside the States. Many facts or ideas, one can bring back home and see if they are viable locally.
In my opinion there is always something to learn from practical books like these