John Jeavons

Ecology Action & Biointensive Sustainable Mini-Farming

"Forget about growing vegetables. Think instead about growing soil, for it is really soil that feeds you." -- John Jeavons


Full Potential - Carbon and Calorie Mini-Farming
"Over the past 25 years, Biointensive mini-farming has spread to 109 countries worldwide, where it is serving people with all varieties of soils, climates and cultures in nutrition intervention - allowing people to grow their own vitamins and minerals where normally they would experience shortages. That is exciting news! But what is even more exciting is that they can tap into the full potential of Biointensive sustainable mini-farming. Not only can Biointensive mini-farming produced essentially all of the vitamins and minerals that one person needs annually in one or two beds (100 to 200 square feet, or 9.3 to 18.6 square meters) of carefully selected vegetables, but Biointensive can, in fact, produce delicious complete nutritional diets in a fraction of the area needed by conventional chemical or organic mechanized farming techniques. For example, approximately 10,000 square feet are needed with such practices to produce an average complete vegetarian diet containing no animal products (22,000 to 43,000 square feet for an average American diet), but only about 2,000 square feet are needed to produce the same diet with Biointensive mini-farming. That can go a long way toward feeding increasing and hungry populations as the world works to decrease population growth to sustainable rates."

How To Grow More Vegetables

Than You Ever Thought Possible On Less Land Than You Can Imagine

John Jeavons, compost crops for carbon, and curing compost beds.
"However, this is only part of Biointensive's potential. Conventional chemical or organic mechanized farming techniques not only take a lot of room to produce a diet, but they also deplete the soil in the process! Conventional chemical and organic farms are generally not producing sufficient compost material high in carbon so that enough cured compost and humus can be produced to maintain a healthy organic matter level in the soil. To do so would require up to twice the area - from 10,000 square feet up to as much as 20,000 square feet (about half an acre) for a vegetarian (vegan) diet. However, with Biointensive Sustainable Mini-Farming, as little as 4,000 square feet (about 1/10th of an acre) is needed to produce a complete diet to feed one person annually and enough compost to maintain and even improve the health of the soil. We are excited about this! It becomes possible for one person to grow all of his or her family's food using truly sustainable methods that maintain the fertility of the soil without relying on nonrenewable resources like petrochemicals or imported organic matter."

John Bybee double digging to prepare soil structures like those found in nature in a well established ecosystem, and closely planted sprouts that fill in space around themselves for insect protection, moisture retention, and the maintenance of a locally beneficial climate.

Taking The Next Step
"In order to help take the next step - from nutrition intervention to complete diet sustainable mini-farming - Ecology Action has created the Calorie/Carbon Worksheet. It is designed to be an easy way for farmers and gardeners, regardless of the agricultural methods they use, to ensure that they are growing enough calories (the nutritional requirement that takes the most area to produce) to feed themselves and enough carbon (to be composted) so that enough cured compost is generated and added back to the land to maintain the farm's organic matter level and overall, long-term fertility."
"We have also developed the Essential Points Information Sheet. This is a list of the most important topics to understand about Biointensive Sustainable Mini-Farming at beginning, intermediate and advanced levels: Double-digging, Compost, Carbon/Calories, Close Spacing Plantings, Companion Plantings, Open-pollinated Seeds/Seed Saving, Water Conservation, Energy Conservation, Area Needed, Whole System Farming. It is difficult in times of transition and instability to remember that we must not only feed ourselves and our families, but we must also feed Our "Extended" Family, the Soil. Let us know if you are interested in learning more about these helpful worksheets. We welcome your comments."

Mini-greenhouse amid complex plantings, cabbages growing closely packed, and Einkorn, the living stone age ancestor of modern wheat, Willits, California.

The Value Of Wilderness
"Farms are usually poor sustainers of Nature's wonderful and sophisticated plant and animal diversity. There is no substitute for wilderness to provide for and maintain healthy and diverse populations of the many, many species with which we share this planet and upon which we depend. With Biointensive methods, farmers can dramatically reduce the amount of land and water that must be devoted to farmland for our food, thereby allowing more land to remain in the wild. Alan Chadwick strongly advocated a goal of 3/4 of the Earth's land surface being left in wildlands with only 1/4 being under cultivation and human management. This seems like a good guideline to help us remember to revere the land and respect its natural limits."
- - - By John Jeavons - - -

Living soil humus from compost beds is also essential for making Seed Balls!

For more information contact:

Ecology Action - 5798 Ridgewood Road - Willits, California 95490 - TELEPHONE: (707) 459-0150

All Photographs And Text Copyright (C) 1996 Jim Bones (Unless Otherwise Indicated) Box 101, Tesuque, N.M. 87574 (505-955-0956)
"Light Writings"