Market Gardening

Market Gardening or 'micro farming' (in German 'biointensive Landwirtschaft', in French 'maraîchage') refers to certain organic farming systems that produce vegetables on the smallest possible area with simple technology and high efficiency per area. In Market Gardening methods are used that simultaneously increase yields as well as maintain and increase soil fertility[1]. As the term Market Gardening indicates, it is based on two approaches. The 'market approach' describes the business model of selling the staple food in the most direct way to nearby consumers. The 'gardening approach' indicates the large diversity of crops and the high degree of manual labor involved when growing healthy food through this productive agroecosystem.


Aim and innovation

Market Gardening is a reaction to the growing demand for regionally grown vegetables worldwide and throughout Germany. The World Agriculture Report 2008 inter alia emphasizes the need for small-scale farming structures and regional food trade to ensure food security for the world's population.[2]

The compact area dimensions of Market Gardens vary from 0.5 to 3 hectares. This allows the focus to be entirely on the efficiency of a small area. At the core of this approach is also the avoidance of tractors and other heavy agricultural machinery. Instead, new and traditional handy gardening tools are used for the diverse manual work. This way less soil is compacted and less fuel burned. Without the use of large machinery, planting and sowing can be done at much shorter distances, creating an optimal microclimate for the plants and protecting the soil from drying out. The beds are not walked on during the year of cultivation and the soil is only worked superficially in order to disturb soil life as little as possible. Market Gardening understands the health of the agro-ecosystem as the basis for the intergenerational profitability of a farm. Compared to a traditional system, a Market Garden can grow four times the amount of vegetables in one year[3]. However, due to the lower level of technology, the required amount of manual labor is much higher[4]. Market Gardening can strengthen food sovereignty, and the concept can be well combined with direct marketing[5].


Comunidad Biointensiva[11], Grow Biointensive[12]


intermediate consumption, production


market gardeners, young farmers, producers, start-ups, new entrants in agriculture

Development and current dynamics

Market Gardening has enjoyed growing popularity in recent years, with millions of people worldwide working according to this concept[8]. Especially in Canada, Japan and the USA, it can be observed that the practice is becoming increasingly widespread. Here exists a close connection to →Urban Gardening and a great potential for synergies with →Community Supported Agriculture[9]. In Germany the method is very rare. At the present time, there are currently only about 20 such micro-enterprises in Germany[10].


Sustainability potential


  • biodiversity
  • soil
  • water (indirect)
  • climate
  • air
  • resource efficiency in production and consumption
  • promotion of regional
  • closed nutrient cycles


  • poverty reduction (indirect)
  • strengthening regional economic cycles
  • increase of food security
  • promotion of recycling economy (indirect)


  • health: Access to healthy food

Risks / disadvantages

Market Gardening, as already mentioned, is characterized by an increased manual workload. The demands on the management are high, the planning of crop rotations, compost management and fertilization as well as the technique of soil cultivation and the optimization of plant distances require a lot of knowledge and experience[13]. With regard to the tropics, Binayak P. Rajbhandari comes to the conclusion that especially the low level of knowledge and commitment in the public and private sectors is hampering the spread of Market Gardening[14]. With regard to the diffusion in Germany, these obstacles can also be assumed, since the cultivation system is only gradually entering the public discourse.


[1] BioNica – Grow the Soil / Seed Network. (n.d.): Best Practices in Sustainable Agriculture—Biointensive Agroecology.  http://bionica.org/ (20.02.2020)

[2] Herzog, F. & Pfiffner, L. (2016): Agrarökologie und Biodiversität. In: Freyer, B.. Ökologischer Landbau. Grundlagen, Wissensstand und Herausforderungen. pp. 613-625.; IAASTD (2009): Agriculture at a Crossroads Global Report. International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge.

[3] De Carné Carnavalet, C. (2018): Agriculture, filières et sécurité alimentaire

des territoires. « Biodynamic French Intensive Method » https://docplayer.fr/85705546-Biodynamic-french-intensive-method.html (20.02.2020)

[4] ibid.

[5] Fortier, J.-M. (2017): Bio-Gemüse erfolgreich direktvermarkten: Der Praxisleitfaden für die Vielfalts-Gärtnerei auf kleiner Fläche. Alles über Planung, Anbau, Verkauf.

[6] John Jeavons (2017): How to grow more vegetables.

[7] ibid.

[8] John Jeavons (2017): How to grow more vegetables.

[9] Haack, M., Engelhardt, H., Gascoigne, C., Schrode, A., Fienitz, M. & Meyer-Ohlendorf, L. (2020): Sozial-ökologische Transformation des Ernährungssystems: Nischen des Ernährungssystems. German Environment Agency, Dessau-Roßlau.

[10] Bundesanstalt für Landwirtschaft und Ernährung (2017): Oekolandbau.de  https://www.oekolandbau.de/ (20.02.2020)

[11] Comunidad Biointensiva. (2020). http://biointensivistas.ning.com/ (20.02.2020)

[12] Ecology Action (n.d.): Home. 3.02.2020. http://www.growbiointensive.org/c (20.02.2020)

[13] Bundesanstalt für Landwirtschaft und Ernährung (2019): Biointensiver Gemüsebau. https://www.oekolandbau.de/landwirtschaft/pflanze/grundlagen-pflanzenbau/biointensiver-gemuesebau/ (20.02.2020)

[14] Rajbhandari, B. (2017): Bio-Intensive Farming System. Potentials and Constraints in the Context of Agroecology in the Tropics. In: Poyyamoli, G. (2017). Agroecology, Ecosystems and Sustainability in the Tropics. Studera Press. pp. 71-88.