The weekly podcast that talks all things food growing with those doing amazing things from across the UK and the world.

Every week we deliver you a podcast that interviews a fantastic food grower that is doing things differently, inspirationally or that has an awesome story to tell.

In this episode we have the incredible Jean-Martin Fortier talking to us from across the globe in Quebec.

JM has inspired both Chris and Jack’s farms, as well as countless others in their growing journeys so we are super excited to bring you this episode which is packed full of info and inspiration.

—-

In the episode we chat about:

  • How it all started for JM, how he got into growing
  • Les Jardins de la Grelinette – JM’s market garden generating a huge income
  • Ferme de Quatre Temps – JM’s training farm
  • How Paris used to feed itself and travelling to learn
  • Regenerative Farming
  • No-dig / No-till and why it’s not the most important focus
  • Why processes and procedures are so important
  • How to manage staff in a rewarding way
  • The management secret
  • Growers clothing and why it’s important
  • JM’s new video blog (It’s awesome, link below)
  • The gameplan
  • Rose, Thorns and Buds
  • Growers Magazing (Link below)
  • So much more…

Plus the all important quick-fire questions of course…. Will JM Fortier be #teambeer or #teamcoffee ???

This is a podcast that will hopefully inspire and inform you whatever experience you have… from aspiring grower, to casual allotmenteer, right through to fully fledged market gardener. We will be talking everything from no-dig to permaculture, mushrooms to marketing.

We are your hosts Chris from Fanfield Farm and Jack from Jacks Patch and we will be bringing you an inspirational interview, some tips and tricks from our own farms as well as the fun feature of quick fire questions that we ask every guest…. Obviously including whether they prefer an evening farm beer or morning farm coffee!!

Support the podcast and get the UNEDITED VIDEO VERSION of this interview here: https://www.patreon.com/foodgroweracademy

Show Notes:

JM’s New Weekly Vlog – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aejLMyCw2hY&list=PLiM0T_Y7peh-4nj7JKv6ICZNpt5rNfnAx

Growers and Co – https://growers.co/

Growers Magazine – https://growers.co/pages/magazine

JM’s Book – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Market-Gardener-Successful-Handbook-Small-scale/dp/0865717656

Les Jardins de la Grelinette – https://lagrelinette.com/

La Ferme de Quatre Temps (FQT Farm) – https://www.fermequatretemps.com/

The Market Gardeners Masterclass – https://themarketgardener.com/courses/

For all things Food Grower podcast; including upcoming blog posts, additional content, guest opportunities and food grower merch, head over to our website at https://www.foodgrower.co.uk

And please do pass on to anyone in your life who grows food either for fun or funds… You can listen to this podcast completely free, anywhere you normally get your podcasts from.

And for more Food Grower Content head to our instagram account https://www.instagram.com/foodgroweracademy to interact with us and get updates each week on episodes, additional content, or just to have a chat.

Don’t forget to hit the follow button on instagram, and the subscribe button on your podcast app. We hope you enjoy the podcast!

—–

Thank you to our amazing sponsors!

This episode is sponsored by:

Natural Grower – For 15% off their full range of products head to https://naturalgrower.co.uk/ and use code FOODGROWER15 at checkout.

Direct Plants Ltd – And their incredible polytunnels – For 10% off everything, head to https://directplants.co.uk/ and use code FOODGROWER at checkout.

Transcript

JM Fortier Session_mixdown

:

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

farm, farming, people, growers, grower, big, growing, beds, market, week, work, create, farmer, permaculture, important, field, studied, talk, podcast, quebec

SPEAKERS

Chris, Jack, J.M

Chris:

Before we get started, this episode of the Food Grower Podcast is sponsored by Natural Grower. Natural Grower's award winning Liquid Fertilizer, Plant Feed and Soil Conditioner is made entirely from maize. It's naturally rich in nitrogen, potash, phosphate, and other trace elements that plants and vegetables love. And it's approved by the Soil Association, Vegan Society, and Biodynamic Association. The concentrated natural fertilizer can be poured around the base of plants whilst the plant feed and soil conditioner can be mixed into the soil, or used as a mulch on the surface as a long term, slow release fertilizer on all outdoor and indoor plants. Both Jack and I have been using the natural grower products this year and I've seen amazing results and we have a fantastic 15% off the entire Natural Grower range for you. Simply go to naturalgrower.co.uk and enter foodgrower15 at checkout. This episode is also brought to you by Direct Plants Ltd and specifically their amazing range of polytunnels. We use the strong and affordable tunnels on both Jack's Patch and Fanfield Farm and we love them. Direct Plants manufacture the tunnels themselves so that you can buy your polytunnel direct from the manufacturer and not just any manufacturer, but from growers too so that they really understand what you need. These traditional high quality polytunnels are available in a range of sizes to fit your growing needs, and they're manufactured here in the UK in Norfolk. We're delighted to bring you a brilliant 10% off the entire range at directplants.co.uk, simply head over there and use the code foodgrower at checkout, that's "foodgrower" all one word no spaces at directplants.co.uk Welcome to the Food Grower Podcast. The podcast that tells the story, highlights the techniques and talks tactics with food growers from all around the world.

Jack:

From market gardeners to allotment holders, field farmers to urban farmers. We want this podcast to inspire you to grow food or help you on your already existing food empire.

Chris:

I'm Chris from Fanfield Farm.

Jack:

I'm Jack from Jack's Patch

Chris:

Well it is our absolute pleasure to introduce the king of market gardening so to speak, he's influenced both mine and Jack's journeys along the way it's Mr. J.M. Fortier! J.M how's your week going?

J.M:

It's great it's starting we were I was telling you guys that this weekend was holiday here Thanksgiving in Canada and like it's golden golden times here in Quebec because the Leafs all are all turning into colors, different colors and so the maple trees it's really really beautiful and it's really warm so it's it's like summer here but we're in the fall so it's kind of you know it's kind of mixed feeling we're happy that it's so hot but then we're like oh this is really unusual.

Jack:

We're getting the same actually I said before the podcast we've had a really wet summer but now we're having an Indian summer, autumn has been pretty good for us. So yeah, I mean may it continue for us because we've had a cold cold summer and wet so yeah we're just trying to enjoy what is left. So J.M with these podcasts we're trying to get more people into growing food. So we always like to take a step back and get people to resonate with people's journeys. So if you don't mind like just tell us like a little bit about your story and how you got into growing?

J.M:

Sure well my story I guess is pretty typical. I'm a bit older than you guys and so it's it's it's kind of an older story but it's pretty relevant I think when I I didn't grow up on a farm I knew nothing about farming. My parents weren't hippies you know, just like organic wasn't, wasn't part of any, any anything. Me growing up I was skateboarding, snowboarding, I was, I lived in the suburbs, an hour of lunch, you know, from Montreal and it was when I studied ecology at university because I liked being out outdoors, playing outside and I was planting trees out west in British Columbia to pay for my university and I was just kind of look at the state of affairs, deforestation and and I was just I just felt that I wanted to be part of nature somehow. And then I studied ecology and that's where I met my wife Maude-Hélène. And we studied ecology and environmental science, which was kind of environmental degradation. And we studied that for three years, climate change, all the problems that that nature is facing and that we're causing. And after that we just wanted to, we didn't know what to do, but we wanted to have a positive impact. And we did a trip we went and worked on Fairtrade coffee farms in Mexico. And that was really something that we were studying the impact of fair trade, how it was creating great conditions for growers down there. So we want it to go see for ourselves. And then from there, we leapfrogged to New Mexico in the States, and that was that we volunteered on a small organic farm and I was my first stink at being on a farm, understanding the community of farming. You know, we were with a French Canadian that was growing there and he was doing farmers market, it was epic. There was people, people were thanking him, I would do the cash box, he would make great cash on a Saturday morning. And then we farmed with him during the week. And you know, I've been farming ever since really, it's it was really, I was connecting so many dots at that time. For me, looking at, we were fighting globalization, we were fighting big institutions, and we were looking at, you know, all the environmental problems and to really go with something very local and hands on was like, Wow, this is so so it's you know, I didn't grew up on a farm. So for me, just like working with your hands was something that I didn't ever consider. So yeah, so in short, that's my story.

Jack:

Awesome

Chris:

Love that. Is there's something in that that you didn't grow up on a farm, and therefore you didn't have the experience before you, you sort of started farming or market gardening that allows like your, you experiment a lot, so you didn't have that ingrained in you that, this is the way we do it therefore, that's the way we do it now. Is that, do you think that's important?

J.M:

Yeah, it was definitely. And there's a lot of things that are kind of blended into my story. But you know, what we've did here at my farm Les Jardins de la Grelinette was, was not unique. But it was, it was unique in the way we've put many different puzzles together pieces of the puzzles together to create a system that that really works. And I think that that was because I didn't grow up on a farm. When we were New Mexico, farming was really small scale because they had a great farmers market. And the land there was like really kind of broken, it was small hills, small patches. And so the farmers weren't, weren't farming, like here in Quebec, where they, they're like five, six, 10, 20 acres. It was one acre, two acres, three acres max, and they were selling at farmer's markets. And so that was my first impression of what farming is. Richard was making, Richard was the name of the grower, he was making good cash, he was spending his winter in Mexico hanging out. And I was like, this is a great setup, like I didn't know that farming was supposed to be drudgery, and it was supposed to be difficult. And also, you know, from there, the fact that we weren't set into one specific way of doing things you know. I went to Cuba and I explored how the growers were working around there, I went to France and explored how the growers were working down there. I was studying permaculture which was very different than what he was kind of talking about with no till and permanent beds. And so when we came back, we kind of and then there was the not the conventional but the classical organic farmers here in Quebec that are mechanized streamlined, you know, very well educated and, in how to do things and then kind of took all of this and put it into a field that was less than two acres with a pretty big constraint. And that's how my, my farming and my farm and my farming kind of evolved, was a mix of me not knowing how to do this. So really going with my imagination and then having this constraint of land that really forced me to kind of look at how to optimize it and make it work and I think even today with YouTube and all the books and all the work that's out there I don't think I would have have had the imagination to kind of explore all these things before I kind of set it up.

Jack:

The book was in there was it? It was, you've kind of just let your imagination go. But I like how you've done things, you explored, you went to different countries. I feel like a lot of us, especially nowadays have growing up and everyone's kind of angry how the world's going and don't know what to do with it. And for me working on a permaculture farm in Australia, I didn't know what permaculture was just went there to earn some money and a guy gave us a lighter and a machete he was like go clear that woods.

J.M:

That's it!

Jack:

Just at the end of the day as we had lunch and as I ate my first organic tomato and the light bulb went off is the yeah just understanding what permaculture was and I feel like all the learning you've done J.M it's like packaged. It's like a model of like you can save the world and have a good life and it's gonna be hard, it's hard earned work but it's it's beneficial you know, the the ethos is always there that you're trying to build a better future for everyone and everyone around you.

J.M:

Yeah, and I think you're totally right. You know, we're not, every generation wants to go back to to the land, in a way especially those of us that grew up in suburbs and cities, really disconnected from nature and from natural systems. There's, there's a point that many of us kind of reach where we realize that everything is kind of artificial, and everything is kind of like, you know, not really sustainable in many ways. And we're like, this is this is kind of bullshit. And when you're at that point, usually that's when you're when you're early 20s. And, and, you know, usually not always, but usually, you know, you're like, Okay, well, what's what's out there for me to have a different footprint or a different lifestyle, and that's how many young people get into farming. Because that's, that's kind of an alternative to how they can live their life. That's how I got into farming. And and I think that's gonna stay. And my perspective about that is, is the more that we talk about farming as an alternative that is really making a difference, you know, small farms in their communities, feeding the communities, creating local economies, becoming steward of the land, and all of this word, all these words are when you are on a farm it makes sense. You're really like Yes, okay, you're growing food, you're bringing it to market, you're selling it. That's local economy. You are definitely the steward of this piece of land because you're nurturing it, you're taking care of it. And and you're doing something with your hands, you're growing, your stuff, it's very, you know, the reward is not, you know, so many jobs that people do, let's say you're coding, you know, you're coding this piece of this big, big thing, and it's gonna take five years before you see the video game and your little code is just a little whatever. Growing food is not like that. It's like boom, planting radishes, harvest them, they're, they're great or they're not great. And then you're selling them you're getting the cash, getting the thank you there's a there's a big reward there. So anyway, just to say that I, I think that there's a lot of us that get attracted to farming because of that.

Jack:

Yeah, for sure. You mentioned Les Grelinette. Let's talk about the space and then like your routes to market for that farm as well.

J.M:he farm has never grown since:Chris:

Wow.

J.M:

That's that's pretty cool. Yeah.

Chris:

That's amazing. I think that's something important that that certainly I was inspired by hearing your story in that when when I first started out because there is this bigger thing of doing something great but at the end of the day we still want to be comfortable. We want to be able to live and enjoy, enjoy our lives and unfortunately or not part of that is earning money and earning good money and and sometimes you look at some of the YouTube channels or books they talk about the growing a lot but there's always this in the back of your mind that farmers are poor or farmers don't have much money and you're you proven that that doesn't need to be the case.

J.M:

Yeah, I think that I proved that in the past. I think today when people look at me if let's say a young person looks at me I'm not really you know, because people will say oh you've you've become a TV star. You have a masterclass, online course, you've written books. You know, you have a clothing companies, it's like people can't relate as much as before but my, you know, the farm and my wife that runs the farm without me now because I run another farm, she still makes a really good decent salary. And you know, the equation is there, when you factor in the fact that if you sell everything directly to consumers that want to pay a good price for what you grow. If you're a good grower, and if you're always investing and making yourself more effective, working on efficiencies, you're investing in the right tools, you know, you're pumping more production. You can make a really, really good living like I'm talking, not millions, not at all. But you know, I always say a good life, because you're working in your fields, you're serving the community, there's cash coming in, there's a lot of deductibles on farms, you know, that we never talk about, because each country is different. But on in our case, pretty much all of our expenses, we get tax tax back from that. The farm is a business expense in itself. One day, when we stop farming, it's gonna come back to us and it was paid by the business. So there's all sorts of ways that it ends up working. But you said it, right? The name of the game is to be a good grower, you really need to be on it, you can't just improvise things.

Chris:

Especially when it's all controlled by nature. At the end of the day, we're still at liberty of what nature throws at us How has the season been for you there at Les Jardins de la Grelinette?

J.M:

For us, it was a really different season, it was super dry, we had a six week drought and which is rare where we are. And then that was just the drought, but it was really warm from from June till till now. Our ponds have been emptied a long time ago, and they're not filling up because it's not raining. And in a place where you know, it's it's it's often said that Quebec has the most water in the world. Because we have a lot of lakes and the aquifers are really filled, and Quebec is a really, really, really big, like five times the size of France if you count all up north. So but so we're not we're not used to thinking about water shortage. We always have excess water. So we raise our beds, we drain our fields, we work around that. But this year, it's the reverse.

Chris:

Has that led to you thinking outside the box and thinking of the future and how you can store more water or different systems? Or do you think this is just a blip? That you won't have to deal with again?

J.M:

No, I don't think it's a blip. I think I'm gonna go to Australia and kind of see what people are doing down there. And that's gonna be it's gonna be interesting, because it doesn't mean that we don't have water, that there's no water. It's just we're not thinking about how to capture it. We're not thinking about how to store it. But if you go to Australia, or if you go to California, or if you go to some places, they've been thinking about this, not since last year, you know?

Jack:

Yeah, Australia, I was in an eight month drought when we was there. And they kind of drained the water source to the max, but they were just mulching as much as possible. It weren't so much annuals, it was more perennials, which you can get away with. But yeah, it was it was a hard watch. Like the guys started to say I want to move back to the UK, just but it but there's always solutions isn't there, we just got to look at other growers and team up. Which I like about this space, everyone's quite, quite free with the resource and their information. It's not so much a capitalist system. I think everyone's kind of coming out from an anti establishment kind of viewpoint, in a way which I love. But yeah, everyone's is great. I love this space. And I love the community within it.

J.M:

Yeah, I think sharing is a big part of how I got successful at farming. You know, there was growers that were giving me tips and advice and there was all sorts of, there wasn't internet when I started but you know, we would get together and then we would share and exchange. And I think that's the DNA of the movement is really to have an open source aspect to it where you know, the goal is for everyone to do better because we're not competing with one another. You know, and then the smaller the farm, the more true that is. So let's say you have in my little village here. When I started there was just one other organic farmer. And I still remember, you know, he said he was looking at us with big eyes and say, Oh, no, no, no, this is my territory and he was like there's already one organic farm, we don't need two. And now there's 30 farms and we're all making it work. And because we're, you know, no one's kind of growing bigger and bigger and just like eating up all the market shares, it's like, they're all small farms, and they all want to have their little piece of the pie and the pie is growing. So, so it's working out.

Jack:

Yeah, I heard something a long time ago where they said Paris was run like that all the food in Paris was run off so many market gardens around the city. I mean, it'd be beautiful to get back to those sort of days. You was recently there as well, in France?

J.M:of Paris, and that was in the:Jack:

Bringing it back,.

J.M:

Yeah.

Chris:

It all goes around in a circle eventually, doesn't it and we come back to those those older ways and even seeing sort of people moving away from especially in this country, we've had a lot of fuel shortages lately. And that sparked talks of even conventional agricultural machinery going backwards. And people talking about using plows with horses and things. So it's funny how it all goes round in a circle eventually.

J.M:

Yeah, as long as there's an economic model that makes it work financially, I think that's, that's important. And, you know, when we look at economics, we don't need to be always looking at volumes of production and small margins on volumes. That's the kind of the conventional, the conventional way of doing business today is that it's like it's the scaling out scaling up. It's like, Walmart or whoever makes a small margins, but they have so big markets, that they're making a lot of money. When you're farming, it's the reverse. It's like you want to make really high margins, the bigger the margin, and sell everything directly and have a small, small market, that's really nice. And then you're meeting them every week. So you're in a relationship with these clients, you need 100 families, 200 families. And that's it. That's enough to generate an income for you to live by. And so simple living satisfying, you know the math needs to work.

Chris:

Absolutely. And going back to you said about your studying Paris, there's something that you've got a new or newer project than your first farm that's allowed you to study a lot around different ways of market gardening, so to speak, Ferme des Quatre-Temps. And I hope I haven't butchered that. Could you talk about that space a little bit like because that's very different in terms of the market you're going for, from Grelinettes and the space?

J.M:nd I've been doing this since:Jack:

That's awesome. Yeah, I love the docu series on the course.

J.M:

Yeah, you saw that? Great!

Jack:

Yeah, it's awesome. Are you doing a season two of that?

J.M:

Nope, it's stopped. And it was it was a good ride. But it was, telling you the truth Jack like it was good. I like doing it. But it was it was really something to have the cameras with you all the time. And then there was that, there was the masterclass. And it just got to be a lot for me at one point. So yes, kind of stepping down was was important at one point.

Jack:

Awesome, it's also like a really good way, especially if you're going to go make the leap into market gardening to see how it operates. It's like a step further than maybe like a future foresight of how you would want to run a farm. But man, it was awesome. And we just want to ask as well about like, how you said about humans being humans on a farm, it's like, you've got to maintain a level of positivity on the farm, fun, as well as like, making sure they're doing the work to a point as well. So like, we were just kind of interested how you get them to that level whilst maintaining like a good community, like community?

J.M:

A good spirit.

Jack:

Yeah. A good spirit farm. Yeah.

J.M:

That's a great, great question. And and that's the, that's, that's what I've been really working on in the last few years. For me the answer, the short answer is that you need to create, I don't know that word in English are called like, a structure. It's kind of a structure from which we operate in. And that structure needs to be really well designed and really crafted so that it's efficient. And inside of that structure, then you have opportunities to have fun, play, work. But the structure is always there to kind of guide the day or the week or the month. And in that structure, there's different there's different things. Okay, so one of them to name a few. We work an eight to five. That's that's a structure that we place on the farm. And the reason why we work in eight to five is that even if it's some parts of the seasons, we know there's too much work. We we've learned that if you push people too much in certain times, they're going to run out of gas at the end. And it's gonna create a lot of problems. And we've also learned that if we work in eight to five and then there's somebody driving the day to get things done. The fact that you have to end the day pushes to get things done. Hmm like you know, deadlines what you're at the at universities, like the deadline is Wednesday, so you're like, Okay, well, it's Monday, I need to get it done, huh? Well, you're kind of putting all the effort and the focus to really do it. That We found is really important to drive efficiency to have these deadlines and so lunch is at noon, we need to finish by noon, we need to finish by five. So that was one. And then another thing that we do is that we always plan the Mondays so that we lay out everything that needs to be done in a given week. And we lay it out with details, and so that we can have a meeting with everyone on the farm and go over everything together so that everybody's involved. People can say something, okay, no, I see that this needs this, this should not this was done last week, whatever. So we we're getting feedback. But the game plan, we call that the game plan is acknowledged and accepted by everyone. So everyone's on board for the week. That that really, really helps to create a sense of belonging, workers are not just working they're, hey understand that we need to get things done. And we also share with them the sales and the objectives that we have. So we start the season with a sales objective. And we measure it every week. And we give people objectives. So there's all sorts of little things like that.

Jack:

It seems like you've got loads of small goals for the week that they've got to kind of hit. But I like that you guys have like that little area where you come together in the gazebo. And then you kind of say like, thanks for your work at the end of the week. And it's like little pizza party or whatever. But I think that's really cool, I've tried to incorporate that into the farm. Like having a pizza oven and having just like a space that this is the reason why I've done it to have fresh food, the community of friends as well.

J.M:

I'm really happy that you say that Jack because that's that's so true. And Friday night pizza for us, or just having what we call here in French La pero. So we're having you know, it's five o'clock Friday, you know, 530 we have beers together. And then you're right, like, My role at that time is simply to say to everyone, thank you for your week, I really appreciate it. And you know, they can't hear it enough, even if they joke about it, because they're like, okay, J.M is gonna tell us thank you for their week. It's, it comes from the hearts like thank you for doing what you did this week. And my role is to be that person. And they're obviously working for me in a way but you know, the farm is is is they're running the farm. They're, they're the engine of the farm. And so at one point, when somebody works hard all week, there needs to be more than a paycheck. You know, and so that's part of it. You've probably seen, we also do rose, thorns and buds on Thursday, which is an hour session where we come together with everyone, all the crew comes together, we stop. And then we take an hour to go over each individually in a circle. Something that was the highlight of the week, something that we liked, something that we don't like, or that's going on that are making us frustrated, angry, mad, whatever. And then we end with something that's positive, something that I'm looking forward to. And just creating that space where you won't be interrupted, when it's your time to talk, you can just talk, then you have a guideline to follow. You can't go on and forever, but you have like four or five minutes to talk. And having a space to express your frustrations that really, really brings us together. And it also what it does, is that it allows us to not talk about these things when it's not the time. It's like you know, when it's Tuesday and we're picking peas and then you know Bob is angry because he's pissed because he can't find the car keys for the truck and he's blowing steam and it's like he's wants to yell at everyone's like, hey, man just wait on on Thursday, we'll have time to talk about it. So just calm down, man. And he knows that he'll be heard. So that that brings the stress level down a bit. And then we can pick the peas and not have him yelling at us, whatever. So it's little things like that. And you put them all together. And it creates and this is this is what I was talking about the structure. We're not doing we're not doing rose, buds and thorns when we like it. We're doing it every week, same hour. Regardless of how busy we are. We do it. And these little things, you know they make a difference.

Chris:

That sounds so powerful. Not just for their experience, but also for you, as a manager, to have what it feels like to create that space must mean you get honest feedback, which will mean you can structure and change procedures. I don't think there's many working environments where you'd get genuine, honest feedback like that.

J.M:

It's really powerful. And, you know, the farm is also run by, we've split the roles and responsibilities. So I've assigned different roles to different people. And then they're in charge of making sure that their roles are carried out. And they have responsibilities and they're accountable to the group. And to me, it took me a few years to really put all of that system of kind of co co management up and running. But it's really powerful, because what it does is allows me to not have everything in my head, it kind of split the load, and creates engagement, like people are happy because people, you know, bright people like us three, and mostly the people that are on farms in our style. They're they're bright people, they're not just, they just don't want to repetitive work, they want to feel engaged, they want to be learning, they want to be challenged. So it's how you address all of that. While keeping very clear that the goal is to grow the veggies and to get a specific outcome. That's really important. We never forget that it's all about, it's not all about the money, but it's all about the sales target. You know, because if we're not achieving the targets, then the whole plan doesn't work. And so for me, that's kind of like that, we always come back to that. Okay, we're having a rough week. But man, we still need to get going. And we still need to have that. It's like, boom, boom, boom, let's go. There's a big market on Saturday. And then and then and so

Chris:

It's amazing. It's so it sounds so powerful. And we've had staff on this farm for the first time this year. And it's, it's been a challenge for us. But just from that conversation, I've learned some some tools that I can take away though, which is really great.

J.M:

But I'll give you if you if you want Chris, I'll give you my best management advice. Hey, are you ready for it?

Chris:

I'm ready, I'm ready. Okay, it's

J.M:

it's really simple, though, okay. And it's not worth a lot because I'm giving it for free. So what I do, is, I always make sure that the workers that are working for me, I make it clear what my expectations are for anything that they're doing, okay. So if you're, they're harvesting carrots, hey, this is how I want you to harvest the carrots, blah, blah, blah. And then my, my role is to go and look them in the eye and when they're doing it, right. This is when I intervene and say, Hey, Chris, when I see you bunching the carrots, like I showed you, this is exactly what I'm talking about good work. And I do this all the time. And I'm always praising when they're doing it, right. And I'm kind of overdoing it to a point to a, it's kind of kind of ridiculous in a way. But I'm always kind of putting a positive feedback about what my expectations are. And also acknowledging the fact that they're doing it, doing it well. And I tell you, it works. It works, because in the end, nobody wants to hear that they're doing bad work. It's discouraging, it's demobilizing.

Jack:

And I feed off that. As a worker, if a boss was like that, to me, I couldn't have done it any better. But your rest of your day you are making sure you're doing that to that tee because you want that fun stuff.

J.M:

And it's about not not feeling shy. And that's really when you become a boss, a real boss. Like I'm more experienced than you guys. I've been doing this for 20 years, but you know, a real boss will will think about the fact that this person needs to be cheered up and fired up. And the best way to do that is to give a real good positive feedback when things are things are done well. So you need to be kind of attentive. It's I'm looking for people that are doing it well. That's what I'm doing when I'm kind of cruising around the fields and you know, and when it happens that somebody is fucking up. I've, I've had so many great interventions with them. That the time that I'm going to be like, I'm kind of disappointed that this is what's happening because I'm expecting more out of you. Well, then it's a it's a quick Okay, you know what I mean?

Chris:

Yeah, I absolutely love that. My management experience started in supermarkets and that they, I don't know what it's like now this was 10-15 years ago, but it's a very different culture, then it's not it's not positive reinforcement, it's negative reinforcement that's taught in management there. And so it's really refreshing to hear you say that and see that that has that that is, is working for you as the best way to to manage.

J.M:

It's my best trick.

Chris:

Thank you. I'll take that one for free. Thanks very much.

J.M:

I got I got it from Chris Blanchard, who did a podcast that was that was the really famous, what was the name of that podcast? Again, I don't remember if you guys know, Chris Blanchard he was on the first book, The first podcast that became big farming podcast Farmer to Farmer podcast.

Chris:

Farmer to Farmer ah yeah absolutely.

J.M:

He was about 10 years older than me 10-15 years older than me. And when I started FQT Farm, I was obviously looking for advice about how to do things better. And he came to the farm and he told me his trick. And it works.

Chris:

I'm glad we're now passing it down to more people that are listening to this. I want to jump back a little bit. And you mentioned your book a couple of times. And I think in the book you did talk about some mechanical processes, some tilling some power harrowing, using the things like the BCS. It seems that some of the conversations I've heard from you more recently is that you've moved somewhat away to that using more of tarping down and green manures and things like that, has your journey with tilling changed, and what have you seen from those various trials?

J.M:

No, not really, it's, it's, it's still the same bottom line is, you know, the beds are permanent. So that in itself, for me is the big, the big thing. So you don't need to be plowing and disking. And, you know, shaping soil all the time. Yeah. And the tarps are there to, you know, to create the clean slate. So when you when you tarp your beds with silage tarps and people can look it over, there's tons of info on internet about it, when you leave it for two, three weeks, and then when you come back, it's it's clean, you haven't worked the soil and the ecologies going. And it's really benign, that for me just made a lot more sense than to do three or four passes with a rotor tiller to clean up the beds. And then from there, we broadfork so that the soil is loose and deep. And then we put our amendments, compost, chicken manure or whatever, and then the harrow is to work the first few centimeters, but also to level and firm the seed bed to make sure that they're all straight. And that for me is important, because when you do have problems with your crops, you want to take out as many variables as possible, was it because it was too much water, not enough water. And then if you have beds that are kind of, then you don't have consistency in the crop and so level and firming the seed beds, and then the power harrow does that really well and really fast. And so that's been my strategy for ever since I started the farm and it's still what we're doing today. But to answer your question, something that I've seen is that there's a lot of focus on that no till and not working the soil and there's a lot of really successful farmers or growers that are using tillers and plows are really they have great great crops. So I think it's really important to not be too dogmatic about this, there's, there's so many places that you need to put your focus on on your farm, become a better greenhouse grower. Learning to you know, optimize space and time with better crop planning. You know, there's so many other areas that are more important in my opinion, that to till or not to till. So we need to not become dogmatic about that in my opinion.

Jack:

It's about your environment, isn't it? And what I like as well J.M is the permaculture aspects that have gone into the new farm. So the the breaks in between the beds, there's like a, almost like you've created an ecosystem between the beds. Do you like, would you push that as to a new grower or like as something to add as like a perennial parts of the farm?

J.M:

Yeah, I think that's again, that doesn't, you know, doesn't make the bottom line any better. But it sure makes the farm feel better. And if you can get grant money to plant trees and shrubs and or if you yourself want to find time to grow flowers, and then plant them perennials, that's where it becomes really interesting to have a market garden where it's not just a piece of land growing vegetables, it's an ecosystem and if you look at pictures of of my farm here at Les Jardins de la Grelinette if you look at the video I was talking about the YouTube videos that are out there man it's it's it's really cool ecosystem and there was nothing here you know and just planting trees planting shrubs digging ponds, making sure that there's flowers that are flowering throughout the whole season. That's just the beauty of what we do and and I you know, I think we should get monetization for that at one point. Definitely. But that's, you know, that's going to be the work of somebody else, you know, but perhaps you guys need to push that.

Jack:

Yeah, definitely.

Chris:

We always talk about the fact that you may look at some of older conventional agriculture as it's called here, farms were always talking about the fact that you wouldn't pick them to go and have a picnic but most market gardens like ours, you would because they're beautiful you see so much nature there, we joke about it but it's absolutely the truth

J.M:

It's the truth and you know, ultimately Are we going to win against big ag you know, I don't know chances are that we won't but man we have more fun doing what we're doing and it's at one point it's influencing as many people as possible and doing things the right way. So picnics you know they're important.

Jack:

I also think it's like important to make this cool again, which I find what you're doing with Growers & Co. you're making farming cool like because ultimately any space I feel like when there's new energy and people making it cool like the question I've always wanted to ask is I got into growing while I was surfing in Australia and it's like merging hobbies and farming like the culture of like your clothes range as well on a recent video on YouTube, I was just like yes it's making farming with the the sort of clothes I'd wear out all the time and that's that's what I love and with the magazine the artistry of it is beautiful and for me it's like I'm watching it with a big smile on my face going and also my bank account being worried about I want to buy that, I want to buy that, I want to buy that.

J.M:

Well you know I really appreciate you telling me this because I don't get that much feedback on it. But that was my visions You know, I've worked really hard to share really technical stuff about farming that I know works and you know the masterclass, the book and I think that's really important that's that's more important than let's say making farming cool again. But if you make farming cool, you'll attract a lot of people that otherwise might not be interested in it and in my opinion farming is is fucking cool. Yeah, farmers are heroes and then I always kind of compare it to Patagonia or the North Face and then they had you know billboards of rock climbers and then people like oh man, so cool. You're a rock climber?

Jack:

Yeah.

J.M:

It's like man, a rock climber what's what you know, compared to a farmer Yeah, like a farmer is fucking cool that's cool, feeding the community and you're outside and then you should have good clothes you're the outdoor person because you know we're farming for four seasons and we're always outside and rain or shine or you know we're that we're out there and so for me all of this started to kind of and the prideness you know when I when I wear my suspenders you know I don't wear it because I have a fat belly I wear it because I want to have some swag to my farm into my farming and i think that's that's that's great we all need that you know? It's not superficial.

Jack:

Yeah, yeah, no, it's cool. I wear a lot of like like surfing brands when I'm on the farm when I'm out I'm a farmers market because I want to portray like I'm not I don't know it's just it is like an image you want to give out that is is cooler is edgier, people have responded to respond to that really well but I was just so stoked to see what you're doing with the Growers & Co in the recent episode for me it was the guy who's who okay who's Fred I like to his like the big pocket here he was walking around in it.

J.M:

That's a smock and I designed that is it's meant so that it's waterproof so when the sleeves are waterproof, the the sleeves are waterproof and then the belly. So when you're gunning and washing your veggies you know we get we get you know I travel a lot and I got that from looking at fisherman's what they're wearing, huh yeah, and Yeah, and for me, that's, you know, what we wear is also really important. Mm hmm. And not just brands, but you know, the comfort the comfortness. And yeah, the function, the functionality of the pieces of clothing. I work with kneepads now all the time because I didn't for many years and started to get back problems. And I know that it's better to have knee pads with you, while farming, so then we have pantses that have the knee pads in them. This kind of stuff.

Chris:

And we're aware of the time so I just want to, before we get on to what we call our quickfire questions at the end, I wanted to ask what's what's coming up next? What's next for J.M?

J.M:

Well, I want to keep on doing what I'm doing. That's a great question. I'm just doing this vlog now on YouTube, I'm really enjoying it. I'm with Chris, another camera guy. And the goal is like in 15 minutes to capture the beauty of where we are and what we do. And that's his role. And for me to share a bit of my life and what I what I think is interesting. And then the magazine, it's the same. I want to tell the stories of different farmers out there that are inspirational for others a big part of my work, guys, will be to put the spotlight that I have on other people. That's what I want to do with with the next seven years

Chris:

I love that.

Jack:

There's a lot of cool growers as well.

J.M:

Yeah, no, yeah, there's, there's so many people out there that are worth exploring and telling your story because it's amazing. And I think that's really powerful. You know, when we tell the stories of inspirational people, we inspire others, and then we we're growing the pie. And that's, that's what our movement needs.

Chris:

And I adore that you're using that platform and those skills that you've developed to put a spotlight on those people because there are amazing growers out there that don't have any of those skills, don't have the ability to use social media or put it but they're just working away in the fields doing incredible things. So I really appreciate that. That what you're doing so amazing. So it brings us to the point that that many people tune in for it's our quickfire questions. There is one at the end that everyone wants to know the answer to but we'll start them off if you're happy to with your favorite tool on the farm?Now I know this might be difficult to nail it down to one.

J.M:

The Wire weeders exchangeable heads, I think it's really nice, and it's the last four or five years I've been using them and in certain soils when it's light, or to go over drip tapes. The fact that the the weeders open at the end, really comfortable, really nice, really smooth. One one that I like.

Chris:

Amazing and it doesn't damage the drip tape doesn't it.

J.M:

No it doesn't because it's it's not a blade, it's a wire. So you can really go and you can press on the weeder and it's it's gonna work the soil but it's not cutting the drips, which is always a problem. It's like either either you remove the drips or you're saying oh no, I'm just gonna go gently and then you just you always end up making holes in the drip tape.

Jack:

It's efficient and quite speedy. You start I've seen it on the course it's like you're done. Like, yeah, 100 foot bed. Yeah, really quick. What's your favorite farm hack? If you've got even just a small one?

J.M:

Well, one that you know you've seen in the course a lot the bubbler when I saw that that was a big, big thing for me because we used to double and triple wash. And it was a lot of work. And then just having the bib the bubbler there to just put everything in it and boom, bubble it for two minutes. That was that for me was it was a major one. That was a hack because it was Can I saw it somewhere. And then it was kind of shared. And we've been kind of developing in ourselves and sharing how to make them.

Jack:

No they're awesome. We've not been able to get the same motor as you guys in Europe. So I saw Japanese grower use a light dewalt leaf blower eyes. Yes. Try it try something different. But yes, it's awesome. It does exactly what it says. Gets those slugs off those lettuce leaves.

Chris:

The next one is your least favorite crop to harvest.

J.M:

I haven't been asked that question. So I'm not. I'm having a hard time here. Any suggestions?

Chris:

For me it's like field beans or beans just because it's so labor intensive. So that's something that drives me mad.

J.M:

I think spinach because we do harvest each of the leaves individually. Big Big harvests, like it could be two or three hours in the winter. But then again, if we're not picking them, we don't have a lot to sell in the winter. So

Jack:

That's true.

J.M:

Yeah I think I've made peace with pretty much all of them out there, when I'm harvesting them I'm kind of happy that they're they're growing. I would say like sometimes when we harvest some of the cabbages and there's some some either some mold into them or you know anything that I harvest that is not kind of good or perfect that's never as enjoyable

Jack:

True true. Is there any veg, every like is there a vegetable that everyone likes but you hate for taste?

J.M:

Okay, so I don't know what [quersaint] is in English is like really stingy [quersaint] people can google it!

Chris:

I'll have a look I'll try put it in the show notes find out

J.M:

yeah

Chris:

so that your last one yeah The last one is it's something that's that seems to be taking off and it's a question we all want to know from you J.M Is that do you prefer a walk around the farm with a morning coffee or an afternoon or evening beer?

J.M:

Two tow two beautiful moments. I'm definitely that's great. I love it I'm definitely a coffee person in the morning that's where I get my my gears into motion and they yeah for me the the beer or the glass of wine is Sunset at the farm when the work is done usually on Fridays sjust like so happy Yeah, but these little rituals they they're important and they make our life beautiful. So it's a great question.

Jack:

We're thinking about getting merch at some point because it's we've got the team coffee or tea beer and it's is splitting the nation at the minute

J.M:

Yeah,I hear you!

Chris:

That's amazing that J.M so thanks so much for your time today it's been amazing we could we could chat for hours but we're away you've got to get away so just what should people be looking out for from you online now

J.M:

Well the magazine The third edition of growers magazine is coming out next month it's gonna be really beautiful if people want to check it out and that that YouTube channel that I started I'm it's newer I think we're into six seven episodes so feedback,

Jack:

It's awesome

J.M:

Feedback yeah we'll feedback about what people would like to hear what you know I have what I like about that project is I can decide whatever I want to do in a given week.

Jack:

So you're going off some of the comments as well if people okay cool

J.M:

Yeah, I read the comments I don't answer to everything but I read them and I'm interested in them so yeah,

Jack:

I'll throw a suggestion in! Awesome J.M

J.M:

Hey you guys are great. Let's do this another time. Whenever like it could be in the winter if you want we can we can do a special winter farming. What we do here

Chris:

Sure that would that would be awesome to hear about, it's something we're just with just diving into winter now so we great to hear

J.M:

Okay, be well guys

Jack:

Thanks so much for your time.

Chris:

Take care. Wow, what an episode we loved recording with J.M, thank you so much to him for his time. And thank you for listening. I hope you've got a lot out of this. If you want to watch the video version of this podcast, completely unedited head over to our Patreon. It's patreon.com/foodgroweracademy and a big shout out to thank our sponsors for this episode. A big shout out to Direct Plants Ltd and to Natural Grower. If you're interested in their range of products and you want some discount codes, have a look in the show notes below we've got them for you. Otherwise, we'll see you on the next podcast and don't forget to hit that subscribe button so you don't miss an episode. See you soon.