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A market garden is the relatively small-scale production of fruits, vegetables and flowers as cash crops, frequently sold directly to consumers and restaurants. The diversity of crops grown on a small area of land, typically from under 0.40 hectares (4,000 m2 ; 1 acre ) to some hectares (a few acres), or sometimes in greenhouses, distinguishes it from other types of farming. A market garden is sometimes called a truck farm.
A market garden is a business that provides a wide range and steady supply of fresh produce through the local growing season. Unlike large, industrial farms, which practice monoculture and mechanization, many different crops and varieties are grown and more manual labour and gardening techniques are used. The small output requires selling through such local fresh produce outlets as on-farm stands, farmers' markets, community-supported agriculture subscriptions, restaurants and independent produce stores. Market gardening and orchard farming are closely related to horticulture, which concerns the growing of fruits and vegetables.
Traditionally, "market garden" was used to contrast farms devoted to raising vegetables and berries, a specialized type of farming, with the larger branches of grain, dairy, and orchard fruit farming; agricultural historians continue to thus use the term. Such operations were not necessarily small-scale. Indeed, many were very large, commercial farms that were called "gardens" not because of size, but because English-speaking farmers traditionally referred to their vegetable plots as "gardens": in English whether in common parlance or in anthropological or historical scholarship, husbandry done by the hoe is customarily called "gardening" and husbandry done by the plough as "farming" regardless of the scale of either. A "market garden" was simply a vegetable plot, the produce of which the farmer used to sell as opposed to use to feed his or her family. Market gardens are necessarily close to the markets, i.e. cities, that they serve.
Truck farms produce vegetables for market.The word 'truck' in Truck farms does not refer to the transportation truck, which is derived from Greek for "wheel", but rather from the old north French word troquer, which means "barter" or "exchange". The use for vegetables raised for market can be traced back to 1784 and truck farms to 1866.
Selling to the wholesale market usually earns 10–20% of the retail price, but direct-to-consumer selling earns 100%. Although highly variable, a conventional farm may return US$0.03 to US$0.30/m2 (US$120 to US$1,210 per acre; US$300 to US$3,000 per hectare) but an efficient market garden can earn in the US$2 to US$5/m2 (US$8,100 to US$20,200 per acre; US$20,000 to US$50,000 per hectare) range, or even higher. However, the size of a market garden has a practical upper bound based on this model, but with conventional farming can farm vast areas because access to a direct market is not a requirement.
Larger market gardens often sell to such local food outlets as supermarkets, food cooperatives, community-supported agriculture programs, farmers' markets, fresh food wholesalers, and any other higher-volume channels that benefit from buying a range of vegetables from a single supplier, their freshness allowing for a premium over the revenue from the supermarkets and frequently other local suppliers. A larger market garden can by mixed crop production maintain a sales alternative to the wholesale commodity-style channels often used by farms that specialize in high volumes of a limited number of crops.
Relying on cities for markets, however, can have drawbacks. For example, in England, south Sussex was famous for growing tomatoes for the London market that were delivered by train. The arrival of railways in the 19th century at first stimulated growth of market gardens in certain areas by providing quick access to the city, but it eventually allowed commuting residents to move there and turn many market garden areas into suburbs. Urban sprawl still eats up farmland in urban regions. Buying the rights to develop farmland from the farmers solved this problem in Suffolk County, New York.
In some more affluent countries, including Australia and the United States, market gardening is rated as a high social utility occupation. It is typically taken up by recent immigrant groups for one or two generations, until they can accumulate capital, language and trade skills. The succession of dominant market garden groups in Australia, for example, was – from the early 19th century Anglo-Celtic, people from German-speaking countries, Chinese (after the peak of the gold rushes in mid-late 19th century), then southern European migrants from Italy, Malta and Yugoslavia (before it disintegrated), then southeast Asian migrant and refugee communities following the Vietnam War, such as the Vietnamese and Cambodians.
Involvement in a market garden lets immigrant groups who otherwise have few marketable skills apart from their labour, become actively involved in the market economy. Benefits are that it does not rely on education or language, it adapts well to providing work for extended family groups, and in large market growing regions even wider community support networks. Sharing of knowledge and experience within communities reduces risks, and supports a network of other trades such as carriers, market agents, and heavy machinery contractors, and contract farm labour. Market-gardening land is typically relatively cheap and allows immigrants to purchase land, often with an accompanying residence, far more readily than in urban settings. However, like all agriculture it risks crop failure, market collapse and competition from industrialized broad-acre farming and 'fresh-frozen' imported produce. Other risks are from hazards such as pesticide use, especially where the market gardeners are not trained in their use or able to read product information. Another consequence is marginalization of the succeeding generation where they are relied upon as the fittest and strongest to succeed in continuing the farm rather than pursue other ambitions and opportunities.
Market gardening has in recent decades become an alternative business and lifestyle choice for individuals who wish to "return to the land", because the business model and niche allow a smaller start-up investment than conventional commercial farming, and generally offers a viable market (in microeconomics basic or staple foods are considered as necessities and have highly inelastic demand curves meaning that consumers will buy them in relatively constant quantities even if prices or incomes vary), especially with the recent popularity of organic and local food. It is in some instances considered hobby farming, although market gardening is a recognized type of farming with a distinct business model that can be significantly profitable and sustainable. There is a spectrum with overlap from with the efforts of amateur gardeners who sometimes sell from home or at markets, as an extension of their pastime, to fully commercial market gardening as the main or sole income stream. The latter requires the most discipline and business sense. Successful practitioners who have written books about it include Eliot Coleman and Jean-Martin Fortier.
An example of a market garden operation in North America might involve one farmer working full-time on two acres (0.81 ha; 8,100 m2). Most work is done with hand and light power tools, and perhaps a small tractor. Some 20 different crops are planted throughout the season. Hardier plants, like peas, spinach, radish, carrots and lettuce are seeded first, in earlier spring, followed by main season crops, like tomatoes, potatoes, corn, beans, cucumber, onions, and summer squash. A further planting timed for harvest in the cooler fall conditions might include more spinach and carrots, winter squash, cabbage, and rutabaga. Harvesting is done at least weekly, by hand, sometimes with part-time help, and produce is sorted, washed and sold fresh at the local farmers' market, and from an on-farm stand. A pick-up truck is used for short distance transport of crops and other farm materials. The workflow is a steady cycle of planting and harvesting right through the growing season, and usually comes to an end in the cold winter months.
A somewhat larger market garden operation, ranging from 10 to 100 acres (4.0 to 40.5 ha; 40,000 to 405,000 m2), may be referred to as intensive mixed vegetable production, although the essential business and farming tasks are the same. Such operations are often run by a full-time farmer or farm family, and a few full-time employees. The tractor is relied upon for many tasks, and manual labor requirements, particularly for setting transplants and harvesting, are often significant, with crews of 10, 20 or more people employed seasonally. This has led in the U.S. to groups of "transient" or "migrant" workers who follow the harvest seasons to different farms across the country. In cooler climates, greenhouses are generally used to produce transplants, and sometimes greenhouse production is extended through winter or with hydroponics. Harvest and post-harvest handling are more sophisticated at the larger scale, with some mechanized harvest and processing equipment, walk-in coolers, and refrigerated delivery vehicles.
Vegetable farming is the growing of vegetables for human consumption. The practice probably started in several parts of the world over ten thousand years ago, with families growing vegetables for their own consumption or to trade locally. At first manual labour was used but in time livestock were domesticated and the ground could be turned by the plough. More recently, mechanisation has revolutionised vegetable farming with nearly all processes being able to be performed by machine. Specialist producers grow the particular crops that do well in their locality. New methods—such as aquaponics, raised beds and cultivation under glass—are used. Marketing can be done locally in farmer's markets, traditional markets or pick-your-own operations, or farmers can contract their whole crops to wholesalers, canners or retailers.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to agriculture:
A farmer is a person engaged in agriculture, raising living organisms for food or raw materials. The term usually applies to people who do some combination of raising field crops, orchards, vineyards, poultry, or other livestock. A farmer might own the farm land or might work as a laborer on land owned by others. In most developed economies, a "farmer" is usually a farm owner (landowner), while employees of the farm are known as farm workers. However, in other older definitions a farmer was a person who promotes or improves the growth of plants, land or crops or raises animals by labor and attention.
A farm is an area of land that is devoted primarily to agricultural processes with the primary objective of producing food and other crops; it is the basic facility in food production. The name is used for specialized units such as arable farms, vegetable farms, fruit farms, dairy, pig and poultry farms, and land used for the production of natural fiber, biofuel and other commodities. It includes ranches, feedlots, orchards, plantations and estates, smallholdings and hobby farms, and includes the farmhouse and agricultural buildings as well as the land. In modern times the term has been extended so as to include such industrial operations as wind farms and fish farms, both of which can operate on land or sea.
Community-supported agriculture or cropsharing is a system that connects producers and consumers within the food system more closely by allowing the consumer to subscribe to the harvest of a certain farm or group of farms. It is an alternative socioeconomic model of agriculture and food distribution that allows the producer and consumer to share the risks of farming. The model is a subcategory of civic agriculture that has an overarching goal of strengthening a sense of community through local markets.
Eliot Coleman is an American farmer, author, agricultural researcher and educator, and proponent of organic farming. His book The New Organic Grower is important reading for organic farmers, especially market gardeners. He served for two years as Executive Director of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), and was an advisor to the U.S. Department of Agriculture during its 1979–80 study, Report and Recommendations on Organic Farming, a document that formed the basis for today's legislated National Organic Program (2002) in the U.S.
Urban agriculture,urban farming, or urban gardening is the practice of cultivating, processing, and distributing food in or around urban areas. It encompasses a complex and diverse mix of food production activities, including fisheries and forestry, in many cities in both developed and developing countries. Urban agriculture is also the term used for animal husbandry, aquaculture, urban beekeeping, and horticulture. These activities occur in peri-urban areas as well. Peri-urban agriculture may have different characteristics.
Agribusiness refers to the enterprises, the industry, and the field of study of value chains in agriculture and in the bio-economy, in which case it is also called bio-business or bio-enterprise. The primary goal of agribusiness is to maximize profit while sustainably satisfying the needs of consumers for products related to natural resources such as biotechnology, farms, food, forestry, fisheries, fuel, and fiber — usually with the exclusion of non-renewable resources such as mining.
An herb farm is usually a farm where herbs are grown for market sale. There is a case for the use of a small farm being dedicated to herb farming as the smaller farm is more efficient in terms of manpower usage and value of the crops on a per acre basis. In addition, the market for herbs is not as large as the more commercial crops, providing the justification for the small-scale herb farm. Herbs may be for culinary, medicinal or aromatic use, and sold fresh-cut or dried. Herbs may also be grown for their essential oils or as raw material for making herbal products. Many businesses calling themselves an herb farm sell potted herb plants for home gardens. Some herb farms also have gift shops, classes, and sometimes offer food for sale. In the United States, some herb farms belong to trade associations.
Organopónicos or organoponics is a system of urban agriculture using organic gardens. It originated in Cuba and is still mostly focused there. It often consists of low-level concrete walls filled with organic matter and soil, with lines of drip irrigation laid on the surface of the growing media. Organopónicos is a labour-intensive form of local agriculture.
Vertical farming is the practice of growing crops in vertically stacked layers. It often incorporates controlled-environment agriculture, which aims to optimize plant growth, and soilless farming techniques such as hydroponics, aquaponics, and aeroponics. Some common choices of structures to house vertical farming systems include buildings, shipping containers, tunnels, and abandoned mine shafts. As of 2020, there is the equivalent of about 30 ha of operational vertical farmland in the world.
A hobby farm is a smallholding or small farm that is maintained without expectation of being a primary source of income. Some are held merely to provide recreational land for horses or other use. Others are managed as working farms for secondary income, or are even run at an ongoing loss as a lifestyle choice by people with the means to do so, functioning more like a country home than a business.
The history of agriculture in India dates back to the Indus Valley Civilization. India ranks second worldwide in farm outputs. As per 2018, agriculture employed more than 50% of the Indian work force and contributed 17–18% to country's GDP.
Controlled-environment agriculture (CEA) -- which includes indoor agriculture (IA) and vertical farming -- is a technology-based approach toward food production. The aim of CEA is to provide protection from the outdoor elements and maintain optimal growing conditions throughout the development of the crop. Production takes place within an enclosed growing structure such as a greenhouse or plant factory.
Benin is predominantly a rural society, and agriculture in Benin supports more than 70% of the population. Agriculture contributes around 35% of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) and 80% of export income. While the Government of Benin (GOB) aims to diversify its agricultural production, Benin remains underdeveloped, and its economy is underpinned by subsistence agriculture. Approximately 93% of total agricultural production goes into food production. The proportion of the population living in poverty is about 35.2%, with more rural households in poverty (38.4%) than urban households (29.8%). 36% of households depend solely upon agricultural (crop) production for income, and another 30% depend on crop production, livestock, or fishing for income.
The Student Sustainable Farm at Rutgers is located at Rutgers' Horticultural Research Station in New Brunswick, New Jersey, on the G. H. Cook campus of Rutgers University.
Foodscaping is a modern term for the practice of integrating edible plants into ornamental landscapes. It is also referred to as edible landscaping and has been described as a crossbreed between landscaping and farming. As an ideology, foodscaping aims to show that edible plants are not only consumable but can also be appreciated for their aesthetic qualities. Foodscaping spaces are seen as multi-functional landscapes which are visually attractive and also provide edible returns.
Urban agriculture in West Oakland involves the implementation of Urban agriculture in Oakland.
Jean-Martin Fortier is a Québécois farmer, author, educator and advocate for ecological, human-scale and economically-viable sustainable agriculture.
This glossary of agriculture is a list of definitions of terms and concepts used in agriculture, its sub-disciplines, and related fields. For other glossaries relevant to agricultural science, see Glossary of biology, Glossary of ecology, Glossary of environmental science, and Glossary of botany.
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Those farms considered as truck farms usually grow a variety of perishable crops throughout the season