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What is Biointensive?   |   What is Ecology Action?


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What Is Biointensive?

Nature prefers to grow plants together intensively. Nature likes life everywhere. Thus when we have an open area without plants in it, weeds and other plants magically appear. This is the way trees, grains, herbs, flowers and vegetables grow when left to themselves. It is part of the biological life process. ecology action workshopThe Chinese observed this over 4,000 years ago, and imitated this living balanced complex diversity in their farming. That was one of the reasons that Asian agriculture remained sustainable for at least 4,000 years. About 2,000 years ago the Mayans, Bolivians, Peruvians and Greeks took similar initiatives. People sooner or later seem to have a kind of universal urge to plant crops as nature does with biological intenseness — Biointensively!

Biointensive Mini-Farming is a way of growing crops and soil simultaneously, with a resulting production of healthy, nutritious food for people, and a production of healthy soil for your garden. Biointensive techniques are the result of 10,000 years of successful field trials. "Modern Agriculture" since the mid-1800’s has not used this practical wisdom and catastrophic soil loss has resulted. Biointensive techniques are based on thirty years of patient research by our non-profit, Ecology Action, plus results of Biointensive mini-farms in over a 100 countries. See "About Ecology Action" below, or press the Ecology Action button on the navigation bar for that website. It is exciting and fulfilling to learn how to "grow soil" — and to be able to watch and smell the soil becoming healthier, stronger and more productive as a result of our efforts and care. It is surprising how much Nature gives in return for even our smallest efforts.

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We can see this in the simple act of deeply loosening the soil. By deeply preparing the soil, not only do we provide air directly to the soil microorganisms, but we also indirectly provide them with some of their other needs — water and food.

By simply loosening the soil to a depth of two feet, as is done in double-digging, we allow water to enter the soil more easily, and sink deeper into the soil where it can be stored. We also allow the roots of the crops we cultivate to grow deeper and more abundantly into the soil. The roots, when they die, in turn serve as food for the microorganisms essential for the soil’s health. All this is facilitated by proper soil preparation. The soil, with a little boost from us, then becomes healthier and provides us with abundant harvests. When the soil is sufficiently built up, simple surface cultivation of 2"/5cm may be all that is needed to prepare the soil. Life creates more life — what a wonderful process to be part of! Gardeners, why stop with just loosening the soil? Biointensive Mini-Farming is a healthy, sustainable system; made up of four individual techniques that work in unison. Using only one of these techniques, double-digging for instance, will only give you limited and generally unsustainble success. The four mutually enhancing techniques of Sustainable Biointesive Mini-Farming are: Double-Digging, Composting, Intensive Spacing, and Companion Planting. These techniques are described in detail in our two best-selling manuals, How to Grow More Vegetables, and The Sustainable Vegetable Garden. top

What is Ecology Action?

In 1972, in response to the world hunger problem and the need to find a way for people to feed themselves, Ecology Action began a research, demonstration and education garden in test what is now known as the Biointensive method. It’s goal was to find a way to raise food in a practical, affordable, and sustainable manner using available resources. For nearly thirty years, we have been developing the smallest and least demanding mini-farm that will sustainably maintain a family in full health, or in larger plots as market gardens to supply a community. Our research and development comes from one of the oldest long-range organic research projects in the country, and our information and training is used by individuals and projects in over 100 countries. Our work with Biointensive food raising has reaped enormous return for home gardeners. Compared with conventional farming practices, Biointensive has the capacity to produce 2 to 6 times the yield while using 50% less purchased fertilizer (organic), 99% less energy, and 67-88% less water per pound of food produced. Indications are that a gardener may be able to grow his/her own 322 pounds of vegetables and soft fruits in a six month growing season on as little as one hundred square feet — half the size of the average kitchen. Using the Biointensive method, one needs to spend only a few minutes in the garden each day, water and weed one quarter as much, and spend far less effort. All of this is possible while your soil’s fertility is greatly improved on a sustainable basis. With good market conditions, it should even be possible for mini-farmers to make a living on as little as one-eighth acre. Ecology Action has built on the work of many cultures. Chinese, Mayan, and other cultures had successful and sustainable agricultural systems that thrived for thousands of years. We are re-learning techniques that are thousands of years old.

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We are discovering the scientific principles
that underlie these techniques, and we use this to optimize the garden. We have developed written "how-to" materials, and successfully tested them all over the world. What we do is present them in a "how-to" form that is easy for people to understand and learn.

We have spent years making mistakes, learning and relearning to make these techniques available to other people. The worldwide results of our research and information outreach have been amazing and rewarding. Envision your whole backyard covered with beautiful flowers, herbs, fruit trees, vegetables, and grains to form a colorful living tapestry! A profusion of nourishing plants — beneficial to yourself, your family, your soil and the world’s eco-system — developed to your taste and aesthetic design. A nutritious, life-giving, thriving, vibrant mini-ecosystem is possible. All you need is access to a bit of sunny land. This is the way of the future. We are all facing an increasingly desertified world. Forty-four percent of the land area was already "desert" in 1977, it was conservatively expected to reach sixty-three percent this year. Yet, it is not too late. We can "have it all" through biologically intensive gardening; fun, healthy food, exercise, beauty, and a wonderfully restored planet created one garden at a time! Our best selling manual, How To Grow More Vegetables, is available in Spanish, Russian, Arabic, French, German, and Hindi in addition to English and Braille. How to Grow More Vegetables is being used in over 100 countries worldwide. In Russia, aid groups including the Peace Corps have facilitated the spread of Biointensive techniques as a solution to their agricultural problems. The second printing of 10,000 copies of How To Grow More Vegetables (fifth edition) just hit the Russian market. The printing of the fourth edition in Russian quickly sold out despite the economy. We also offer over 40 other publications, videos, and other training materials on special topics, that help you grow all your food, compost and seeds in the smallest area with the fewest resources.
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Bountiful Gardens
18001 Shafer Ranch Road, Willits, CA 95490-9626 USA
tel 707-459-6410 • fax 707-459-1925
bountiful@sonic.net
Copyright 2003, Ecology Action of the Midpeninsula, Inc.
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