Who are you calling small?
When we refer to small-scale growers or biointensive growers, we’re referring to those who are focusing on achieving maximum yields from a small area of land, while simultaneously increasing biodiversity and regenerating soil fertility. This could be market gardens, food forests, orchards, vineyards and home gardens. Some of the philosophies that inspire some of these smaller, biointensive operations may include Permaculture, Korean Natural Farming, Biodynamics, etc and they may also be described as organic or regenerative. As always, the soil health principles apply broadly to operations of all sizes – Know your Context, Minimize Disturbance, Cover & Protect Soil Surface, Maximize Biodiversity, Maintain Living Roots and if possible, Integrate Livestock.
In our work on the First Acre program, we have learned a great deal from the Maya Milpa farmers in Mesoamerica, who tend to their 5 acre Milpas which provide food, medicine and construction materials to their communities. Milpa is an incredibly sophisticated technique which could certainly be described as small-scale, biointensive agriculture. Maya Milpa and other Indigenous farming techniques serve as a reminder that these practices have existed long before the modern philosophies which have popularized the regenerative movement today. We have much to learn from those who have farmed in harmony with nature for generations! Learn how you can grow your own Milpa garden through our First Acre Program.
for Small-scale growers
Use this flow chart for inspiration for cover cropping your walkways in orchards, market gardens or food forests. Head over to our Smartmix Calculator for more inspiration and helpful recommendations!
When it comes time to put your garden beds to sleep for the winter, consider planting an overwintering mix to continue to feed microbial life underground. This mix will start growing in the fall and resume growth in the spring, producing enough biomass to suppress weeds and fixate nitrogen. Our overwintering mix is an economical, pre-made mix that is suitable for a large variety of overwintering scenarios.
Our Recommended Reads
The Market Gardener Institute
Founded in 2017 by Jean-Martin Fortier, the Market Gardener Institute is an impact-driven social enterprise dedicated to educating and empowering growers to change the world through the simple act of growing healthy, nourishing food for their communities.
Neversink Farm Online Market Farming Course
The farm course is taught by Conor Crickmore who is educating market farms around the world to be more profitable. He also owns Neversink Farm, one of the most profitable organic small scale farms anywhere.