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Soil and a Song at Ecology Action's 60th 3-Day Workshop in Willits, CA
by Jason McNabb, EA Office Manager

Ecology Action's 60th 3-Day Workshop
Plants, friendships, and encouragement blossom while touring the Jeavons Center Mini-Farm.

From the summit of Everest, from the heart of the Amazon, and from seaboard to seaboard, attendees converged outside of Willits, CA, from February 28th to March 2nd to take part in Ecology Action’s 60th GROW BIOINTENSIVE® Sustainable Mini-Farming Workshop.


It was an atmosphere worthy of the anniversary as students, teachers, parents, farm managers, agriculturalists, doctors, pastors, social ministers, and managers assembled for what would be a three-day tour-de-force on the rational use of resources: the growing of healthy soil, healthy food, healthy people, and a hopeful future for all. Not even March’s low pressure could stay away, and while a pressure of a different sort—the pressure of taking personal responsibility for the challenges of environment, soil, water, food, and nutrition—was being felt by most in attendance, the gusts and gales outside could not dampen the atmosphere of empowerment which bloomed over the course of the ensuing three days. 


Of particular note were the number of workshop attendees representing the educational sector, including: a professor of sustainability at San Diego State University, a California high school science teacher developing a college-preparatory sustainable agriculture course and the Program Director for the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of California, Davis.


Fresh off the success of Ecology Action's own January Two-Week Farmer Training Course held at the Jeavons Center for Biointensive Research and Education in Willits, Ecology Action staff members were eager to share their newfound depth of knowledge and articulated sense of the organization’s educational mandate with their newfound friends and colleagues in the area of soil health and human sustainability.


Presenters included Rachel Britton (Golden Rule Mini-Farm Co-Field Coordinator and EA Research Coordinator); Ellen Bartholomew (Golden Rule Mini-Farm Manager, grain grower of 20 years, and quinoa breeder); Matt Drewno (Green Belt Mini-Farm Manager and Observations Coordinator); Dan and Margo Royer-Miller (former Ecology Action 3-Year Apprentices and present-day mini-farm operators); and, of course, Director John Jeavons.


Presentations ran the gamut of soil health and sustainability, from the present world challenges and opportunities to overcome, to becoming our own mini-farm managers—growing our own soil, food, and futures in the midst of social and climate change—deftly connecting each dot in between. Hands-on demonstrations included double-digging with ease; compost building for maximum humus formation; seed and plant propagation for the strongest starts; and grain threshing with minimal time and equipment. Tours of both the Golden Rule and Common Ground Mini-Farms were enjoyed by all.


Meals were exceptionally prepared by Rachel Britton, the Jeavons Center Three-Year Apprentice Jes Pearce, and the loving culinarians at the Ridgewood Ranch using food grown on-site and following Ecology Action’s 60/30/10 dietary approach to human health and soil sustainability. The dishes at Saturday’s networking dinner were good enough to inspire an impromptu Spanish dinner operetta by the group’s most, until that point, reserved member.  


By the third day, as attendees confidently applied the final touches to their heart-designed diets and garden plans, three facts were readily apparent: each person, effectively informed, is an opportunity to localize and exponentially multiply sustainable food sovereignty; resource-conserving cuisine can be good enough to sing about; and for those who don’t always believe their eyes, sometimes doing is believing. The ‘thank you’ emails we are still receiving weeks later are an inspiration to begin looking to the future.


In turn, we send a heartfelt “THANK YOU!” to all who participated. We hope you will share what you learned and help spread the joy of empowerment to others. Together, we can truly make all the difference in the world!


If you would like to experience an Ecology Action Three-Day Workshop for yourself, the next one is scheduled for Nov. 7-9 of this year. Information and online registration are at:



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