Market Growers School


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Wisconsin School For Beginning Market Growers

You bring your gardening background and interest and hopes for your own market garden or small vegetable farm. We expose you to what you need to know and plan for as you set seeds and grow.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we cannot schedule and plan for this program (traditionally offered in early January), given all the unknowns surrounding whether face-to-face instruction will be possible in January and whether the program would attract enough participants. We are planning to create videos using some of the material from the Beginning Market Growers School. These videos will be available through the CIAS website, with this page as a portal. If you are interested in receiving updates on the availability of these videos, send an email to John Hendrickson ( Thank you, and we apologize for the interruption in our beginning grower school programming.

The intensive three-day course demonstrates what it takes to set up and run a successful market garden or small farm.

What do we offer?

  • A unique program that combines knowledge from experienced growers and UW faculty
  • Opportunities to understand basic concepts in market gardening and what it takes to organize this type of business
  • A holistic approach to growing and marketing
  • Extended time with three experienced growers, each offering unique perspectives, invaluable tips and practical know-how
  • A chance to network and learn from fellow gardeners, farmers and entrepreneurs
  • In addition to the three-day course, Special Topic Seminars and Workshops focus on specific issues facing new and experienced growers.

This course aims to give students a realistic picture of what it takes to run a successful small-scale produce operation—including capital, management, labor and other resources. Topics include soil fertility, crop production, plant health and pest management, cover crops, equipment needs and labor considerations at different scales of operation, and marketing and economics. Three grower instructors primarily teach the course, with featured presentations and hands-on labs by UW faculty and other specialists. Grower-instructors’ farms vary in scale, cropping mix, marketing strategies and growing methods.

Special topic seminars and workshops

These sessions for new or experienced growers provide opportunities for concentrated attention on key aspects of market farming. Topics are based on the needs of interests of people like you…so let us know what kinds of workshops you’d like to see offered.

What do we mean by “market garden”?

We use a fairly broad definition of market garden. The course attracts a wide variety of folks, from people wanting to start a small market garden in their backyard, to people with one to two acres who see this as a part-time job, to people looking to grow 10, 20, or more acres of vegetables for various retail and wholesale markets. The grower-instructors, who range in farm scale and marketing strategy, help meet the variety of interests and needs brought by students.

What past students say:

  • “Terrific course, very helpful and motivating. I felt the first day easily paid for the tuition.”
  • “The grower-instructors were all fantastic; the diversity in their farm sizes and modes of farming and marketing was excellent.”
  • “The most useful aspect of the course was all the real-life experiences of the grower-instructors and how farming has affected their lives.”
  • “The course notebook has proven to be a very useful resource. I’ve used it again and again.”


The three-day course is usually held January or February, because it is taught by experienced growers with farms to manage. Special Topic Seminars and Workshops may be held throughout the winter.


A limited number of $100 scholarships are available for aspiring organic growers in need of financial assistance. To apply, contact John Hendrickson at or (608) 265-3704 before registering online or using the paper registration form.

For more information, contact:

John Hendrickson
Phone: (608) 265-3704