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Sustainability and Survival
What do we do?
Ecology Action is a small non-profit education, training and research center located in northern California. Since 1972, we have researched, developed and taught techniques for growing more food than conventional methods allow, in a small space using simple tools, while maintaining or increasing the health and productivity of the soil. Our GROW BIOINTENSIVEŽ method is a high-yielding, sustainable agricultural system that emphasizes local food production and is based historically on intensive gardening systems. Our mission is to train people worldwide to better feed themselves while conserving resources.
How do we spread the system?
Aware of intensifying world challenges and the basic need of people to
feed themselves, we have developed a small-scale agricultural system -
GROW BIOINTENSIVEŽ Sustainable Mini-Farming - that nurtures soil, produces high yields, conserves resources and can be used successfully by almost everyone. Our goal is to help this system be known and used locally - on a worldwide scale.
Education and training are the keys. Publications based on our research are disseminated globally. We give trainings in the GROW BIOINTENSIVE method all the way from the basic level up to the training of trainers. Our publications and trainings have inspired demonstration and teaching projects in Mexico, Kenya, Argentina, Ecuador, Russia and Uzbekistan, with other trainers in place in the U.S. and around the world. As a result, millions of people have learned new techniques and have been taught to grow a nourishing diet for themselves while protecting the Earth's fragile resources.
How do we influence the world as a small organization?
We equip individuals and organizations with the information, skills and inspiration that enable them to take the next step. This strongly embeds our techniques with local people who know best how to establish and empower them locally. We remain the core of this expanding global network, finding ways to make crops grow well in non-optimal soil and climatic conditions at our Research Mini-Farm/Garden, providing technical expertise, acting as an information bank, maintaining quality assurance of the GROW BIOINTENSIVE system, and catalyzing new projects as opportunities arise.
The basis of this work is the GROW BIOINTENSIVE Sustainable Mini-Farming Method, currently being used in 141 countries, proving its effectiveness for meeting the needs of individuals in a wide range of climates, soils and cultures. We have dedicated our research to rediscovering the scientific principles that underlie millennia-old traditional farming systems. These have guided us to the eight essential aspects that are the foundation of GROW BIOINTENSIVE:
o Double-Dug, Raised Beds
o Intensive Planting
o Companion Planting
o Carbon Farming
o Calorie Farming
o The Use of Open-Pollinated Seeds
o A Whole-System Farming Method
Most life in nature occurs at the interface of soil, water, air and sun. GROW BIOINTENSIVE soil preparation practices create growing beds with more surface area to maximize the effect of nature's life processes. Double-dug beds, with soil loosened to a depth of 24 inches, aerate the soil, facilitate root growth, and improve water retention. The health and vigor of the soil are maintained through the use of compost. Close plant spacing is used to protect soil microorganisms, reduce water loss, and
maximize yields. Companion planting facilitates the optimal use of nutrients, light and water, encourages beneficial insects and creates a vibrant mini-ecosystem within the garden. A focus on the production of calories for the farmer and carbon for the soil ensures that both the farmer and the soil will be adequately fed and that the farm will be sustainable. The use of open-pollinated seeds helps to preserve genetic diversity
and enables gardeners to develop their own acclimatized cultivars. All of the components of this system must be used together for optimum effect and to avoid depleting the soil.
GROW BIOINTENSIVE mini-farming techniques make it possible to grow food using:
o 67% to 88% less water
o 50% to 100% less fertilizer
o 99% less energy than commercial agriculture, while using a fraction of the
These techniques can also:
o Produce 2 to 6 times more food
o Build the soil up to 60 times faster than in nature, if properly used
o Reduce by half or more the amount of land needed
The extraordinary results we have achieved for a small organization are attributable to our persistence and a "lean and keen" approach. Working smarter, not harder, has allowed us to implement precise, well-placed efforts towards empowerment. We've demonstrated that we can shift away from the idea that massive organizations are needed for solutions to massive concerns, which elicits a sense of pleasurable responsibility from taking part in the solution.