Access to water

 The intensive production of vegetables is highly dependent on an adequate supply of water. In the northeast American rainwater supply during the high season is unpredictable and often insufficient. To

succeed in your market garden, you must therefore be able to rely on an irrigation system so that the water is permanently available for the needs of germination of seedlings in the ground and transplants. Irrigation is also essential for irrigating crops during periods of drought. A potential site must therefore ensure that you have a sufficient supply of water for your operations.

A good well may be adequate for a small garden, but when more than half a hectare must be irrigated regularly, the presence of a water reservoir in the form of a pond, a lake, or a river is necessary. If the site you consider that you already have a pond, you will need to assess its recharge capacity and its water volume based on the estimate of your irrigation needs. And since doing this exercise is not easy, I recommend that you contact a supplier in irrigation equipment and offer to do this analysis in exchange for the purchase of your equipment in his home.

If the site does not have a pond or lake, you will inevitably have to dig a reservoir of water. Without being complicated, such a project must take into account several considerations. You should first obtain an excavation permit from the paid by the competent authorities. In Quebec, permission is generally granted, unless the work does not affect an existing water source (a stream, for example). If the land is leased, I recommend that you get a letter certificate from the owners authorizing you to proceed with the work. The excavation will generate a large amount of soil, and the owner may not be aware of it. These details should be clarified so that there is no ambiguity between you about it.

It is important to plan well the costs of such an undertaking, as they will determine the size of the future reservoir. Related expenses at the excavation itself are relatively low. Hiring a competent contractor can be a wise choice, provided that the latter has experience in this type of work. I recommend that you visit its latest construction sites and hire whoever has the greatest mechanical excavator. This entrepreneur will help you assess the retention capacity of the hole and decide what to do if the layers of the basement would be too permeable.

 Finally, you will also need to determine what you will do with excess soil because it is transported to the outside of the site could easily double the costs of the project. This surplus of land may offer the opportunity to correct certain topographical imperfections of the site or to develop raised platforms for greenhouses and/or future buildings. If this earth must go to the garden, be sure to demand that the excavator operator separates the upper layers during the excavation to bring the only topsoil. If the work is done in the spring, you may have to wait several months before you can extend the land that will be too wet to work it.

Once the water tank has been dug, there is no other than to develop it with aquatic plants and, why not, a filtering marsh to transform the water hole in the swimming pond. It's a beautiful project which, with time and minimal planning banks, can become an oasis of biodiversity appreciated by birds and ... the gardener!

In hot weather, it can be very pleasant indeed to cool off in the company of dragonflies and frogs.


Apart from the garden areas, market gardening on a small surface requires the presence of a building used for packaging vegetables and storing equipment. The building will need electricity, potable water, and a certain degree of insulation. When searching for an ideal site, several infrastructure scenarios are possible, each of them involving different planning. These infrastructures could require considerable investment. So, keep in mind that their design will have an impact on daily activities for years. It is, therefore, better to plan these investments with the greatest care.

Regardless of the presence of infrastructure, the potential site must be provided with motorized access connecting the road and your bathroom conditioning. This path must be accessible at any time of the season, even in heavy rain.

Getting bogged down before delivery is out of the question. If there is no suitable road, you will need to inform yourself about the required permits, as municipal standards for the development of a simple access road can translate into enormous costs. Take the time to analyze this data before considering such a site.

Presence of polluter, absence pollutant

We all imagine ourselves growing in a healthy environment. Unfortunately, agricultural pollution is ubiquitous in the countryside and nothing prohibits the application of synthetic pesticides to the limits of your gardens. The sad story of garden communities in Montreal closed due to the discovery of heavy metals, must be learned.

Although a site in the countryside probably does not have an industrial past, there are other possible sources of contamination. Use intensive lead arsenate insecticide in orchards was a recommended practice until the 1970s. The site of an old orchard can therefore still be contaminated by this non-biodegradable and carcinogenic product. Determine the history of a site is not easy. In case of doubt, it is necessary to carry out a soil analysis to detect the presence of chemical pollutants. Better worth safe than sorry.

In addition, it should be noted that a cultivated land of the conventional way for a long time, especially when it comes to corn or soybeans, there is a risk to be depleted due to soil compaction (under the effect of tractor tires), the absence of rotation as well as excessive use of fertilizers, synthetic pesticides, and herbicides. In this case, in addition to recovering a possibly badly damaged floor, you will have to take into consideration the fact that organic certification will not be issued to you that three years after your establishment.

If the site you want borders on a conventional farm, you should be worried. In southern Quebec, where farms organic and conventional coexist, conventional agricultural practices (coating or genetic modification of seeds to include fungicides, chemical fertilization, or weed control glyphosate) could pose a danger for water and air from surrounding farms. But worse still, there is no regulation prohibiting the spreading of these synthetic chemicals near organic farms or gardens. The destruction of unfortunate harvest due to the drift of a herbicide or pesticide from a farm neighbor could prove catastrophic for the reputation of any organic farmer.

If the desired site is adjacent to conventionally cultivated land, then it would be wise for you were taking certain precautions. The certification biological will require a buffer zone of 8 meters between your gardens and the neighboring field or again the installation of a separating windbreak.

Faced with such a scenario, I recommend that you meet the neighboring farmer to tell him your intention to cultivate organically. He explain your insecurity in the face of problems with drifting over your gardens (being respectful and courtly) could cause the latter to take more precautions when watering.

In the best of all possible worlds, a deal could be negotiated so that it also respects an area buffer, in return for payment from you. This solution could be very desirable, especially if your garden space is limited.