Market gardening question: Wanting to start a micro farm in Michigan

by Marie

Topic: how to start market gardening on a small piece of land.


I am Marie and I live in Michigan with my hubby and 4 kids. We live on 2.5 acres out in the woods.

We would like to start up a micro farm. Our first priority is to provide our family with organic goodness. Then we would like to provide our community with our bounty.

I am wondering since we have such a short season what we would most profit from. I currently work full time and hubby is on layoff with two kids at home.

I have a passion for gardening but have not gardened in a few years due to two young kids. I really want to get back into things and want to help out our community in the long run.

I am wondering if there are grants available out there for micro farming and what the first steps are. I would like to eventually like to have something year round also.

My goal would be to get out of this mundane paper pusher desk job and be in the dirt which is my passion!! Any advice for this cold weather gal?!?! Thanks so much in advance :)

ANSWER: Congratulations, Marie. I'm always delighted to hear of another person taking the leap into market gardening. re your questions:

We started out small on our farm, just trying to raise food for ourselves and our kids with a little left over for sale, just as you are considering. That's how we learned the business.

You might consider telling a few friends, co-workers, neighbors etc that you are growing fresh, organic veggies and if they hurry they can get on the list to get some from you.

You could take a deposit to help with garden start-up costs, and they would pay for some veggies each week. Or, go the whole CSA model and ask for payment for the season, up-front.

Here's a link to my harvest schedule, showing veggies I plan to provide; you could create something similar. Right-click and 'save as' to save a copy to your computer.

Harvest Schedule

Meat chickens work well with a market garden. I rotate my birds through the garden area using portable electric mesh fencing to keep them in areas I want cleaned up and fertilized, and away from the veggies. The way I'm set up the chickens are easy to care for, the kids could easily help out.

Free range organic chicken is a premium product, I easily sell all I can raise. Start with maybe 50 birds, keep some and sell some to cover costs.

We also run our piggies through the garden, both in the spring and in the fall for clean-up. You could try the same model as with chickens, e.g. raise two weaners, keep one and sell one.

2.5 acres is plenty of room to do all the above, if you integrate garden growing with the livestock. The pigs and chickens will actually improve your garden soil.

There are some books on my site about CSA market gardening, raising chickens, and raising pastured pigs. They were all written by me, and explain how we do it here at New Terra Farm. They might be worth a read.

Bootstrap Market Gardening

How to Raise Meat Chickens

Pigs on pasture

cheers, and best of luck


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