Through its trainings and publications, Ecology Action has catalyzed
The projects below had their beginnings through
connections with Ecology Action or through people who had connections
with us. All of the projects have since put down strong roots and
have been the means by which hundreds of thousands of people have
learned how to successfully grow their own food. We're proud and honored to call the people our partners!
Ecología y Población (ECOPOL): Mexico and Latin America
Juan Manuel Martinez Valdez, founder and director of ECOPOL, became aware of GROW BIOINTENSIVE Sustainable Mini-Farming (GB) when he received a copy of the first Spanish translation of How to Grow More Vegetables that Ecology Action sent to Mexico. He tried out the method in a rural project he was managing and was very impressed with the results. After several years of interaction with John Jeavons, director of Ecology Action, Juan established ECOPOL (Ecology and Population) in 1992. Its purpose was specifically to spread GROW BIOINTENSIVE throughout Mexico and the rest of Latin America. Through ECOPOL's work over 200,000 people have been taught the GB food-growing method, a network of Biointensive trainers has been established, and many organizations are now ECOPOL's allies in this effort. Click here to read more.
In the beginning, Juan Manuel was employed by Mexico’s Department of Social Security (IMSS) and he started adding the Biointensive method to programs that were already delivering services to people in rural areas. After retiring from IMSS, he traveled throughout Mexico to make presentations, give trainings and identify potential six-month interns to be trained at Ecology Action (EA). Workshop participants grow their own GB gardens; some have started demonstration gardens and trained their neighbors and others who were impressed by the success of the system. Former EA six-month interns start demonstration, research and training centers, and often become GB certified teachers at the basic level. Other organizations, universities and government agencies are now sponsoring trainings at their facilities and have become advocates of the GROW BIOINTENSIVE method. ECOPOL and Ecology Action have co-sponsored Latin American workshops* in Costa Rica and in Mexico, which have drawn even more people into the Biointensive network. Since the late 1990s ECOPOL has extended its reach into the rest of Latin America, giving trainings and contacting people and organizations in most of the countries of Central and South America.
Through all these efforts, ECOPOL has catalyzed strong GROW BIOINTENSIVE projects in Mexico (Las Canadas, El Mezquite, Xochitla) and in Ecuador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Peru, helping GB food-growing skills reach even greater numbers of people. Juan Manuel is now working with these and five other centers in Mexico, Panama and Ecuador to upgrade their knowledge and skill about soil science, helping ensure that their soils can grow food sustainably into the future, and that they can also teach others how to maintain fertile soil. Juan has also been mentoring younger trainers into a team that will help GB training in Latin America to remain strong. Juan Manuel's work has even drawn attention in Europe. In 2013 he was invited to make presentations in Italy and in 2015 will be part of a teaching team giving a five-day workshop in Milan.
*In March 2006 ECOPOL and Ecology Action co-sponsored the six-day Soil, Food and People Workshop, which took place in Costa Rica. 116 participants from 19 Latin American countries learned GROW BIOINTENSIVE techniques, made demonstration gardens, and networked with each other. After that workshop, Juan gave follow-up trainings in the more than 14 countries that had requested them. In May 2010, a nine-day workshop and conference were co-sponsored by ECO”POL and EA at the Xochitla Ecological Reserve near Mexico City, with over 224 participants from 19 Latin American countries as well as the US, Kenya and Russia. These big meetings have provided opportunities for participants to learn the Biointensive method at a deeper level, have brought them closer together and inspired them to greater efforts by sharing their experiences and helping them realize they are part of the breadth and depth of a large Biointensive network.
Fundacion Autosuficiencia, Desarrollo y Sociedad (ADYS): Ecuador
Mercedes Torres Barreiro is an educational psychologist who founded ADYS to train community leaders in a variety of subjects. She was introduced to the Biointensive method in 1997 by Juan Manuel Martinez, and decided to disseminate the method in her country as a solution to the economic and social crisis it was living through. In 2000—after attending the Soil, Food and People Conference sponsored by Ecology Action and ECOPOL—Mercedes started a demonstration/training garden on land near Quito donated by a convent. ADYS has also sponsored other Biointensive projects* through the years. As the situation in Ecuador has become even more difficult, Mercedes has started an additional demonstration/training garden near the first site, since the original garden space has all been planted. She is currently focusing on giving free trainings to single mothers, one of the most vulnerable groups in the Ecuadorian population. The trainings include free transportation, training materials and lunch from the garden produce, as an alternative to the government's sponsorship of free trainings in industrial agriculture. Click here to read more.
Because Mercedes had already been in contact with many community leaders, she was known as a person of integrity. After the country's economy fell apart in the late 1990s, ADYS created a dining room at the garden site and used garden produce to feed unemployed professionals. In return, they collaborated with Mercedes on ADYS' projects. Many trainings have been given at the garden over the years to a wide variety of participants, including people from Colombia. Another project started was in the Ecuadorian Amazon, where refugees from Colombia had poured in, impacting the ability of local people to feed themselves. ADYS encouraged the residents to grow Biointensive gardens, and at the end of 2004, there were 60 gardens in the area and 16 gardens at the Colombian border. At that time, the gardens were feeding about 2,400 people, both refugees and very low-income locals. A kitchen was established where marmalade was made from exotic fruits for income generation. At the time, the project was acknowledged by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization and the UN's High commission for Refugees in Ecuador.
ADYS, along with Ecology Action, ECOPOL and Las Cañadas was a part of the Latin American Conference 2010: Biointensive Agriculture Facing Climate Change.
Las Cañadas: Mexico
Las Cañadas is a unique sustainable living community in Veracruz state, Mexico, that has its roots in both GROW BIOINTENSIVE and Permaculture.* Formerly an unproductive cattle ranch, it has been nurtured by its owners—Ricardo Romero and Tania de Alba—into a fertile and productive demonstration and teaching site, as well as a working cooperative. Besides beds for Biointensive food production, an additional 80-beds have been established for seed production, which is the first Biointensive organic seed company in Mexico. Las Canadas has donated 30 acres of its land—and is now partnering with ECOPOL and Ecology Action—to create a Latin America Sustainable Agriculture Training Center. One of the beginning goals of this project is to broaden and consolidate the Biointensive method in countries where it is already being used. Click here to read more.
In 1998 Tania de Alba—who had already been using Biointensive techniques at Las Canadas—attended a 3-day Ecology Action (EA) workshop in Willits. In 2001 her husband, Ricardo Romero, was a participant at our 5-day Teacher Workshop. The two had developed the ranch into an eco-tourist site that receives many visitors throughout the year and began giving regular Biointensive and Permaculture workshops there. Karla Arroyo, the Las Canadas garden manager, was an EA six-month intern in 2003. She is also an expert in seed production and added that subject to the workshops given there.
In the creation of the community at Las Cañadas, Ricardo combined his knowledge of Permaculture to work with the sloping contour of the land and to implement systems and designs that are environmentally harmonious as well as functional. There are aesthetically pleasing cob structures for housing and hygienically recycling human waste and waste-water on-site. A school for children in the larger co-operative community with adjacent farms has been started, and over 50,000 trees have been planted over the past 14 years to help restore the cloud forest that makes up Las Cañadas' ecosystem. Energy efficiency is also a part of the plan being implemented and they have been introducing the fuel-conserving rocket stoves—by far the most resource efficient means for heating and cooking.
Ecology Action, ECOPOL and ADYS, Las Cañadas were all a part of the Latin American Conference 2010: Biointensive Agriculture Facing Climate Change.
Agustin Medina and Marisol Tenorio: Mexico
Agustin Medina and Marisol Tenorio were Ecology Action Interns at the Golden Rule Garden Mini-Farm in 2007. They have since become Certified Teachers at the Basic- and Intermediate-Level and are currently in charge of the GROW BIOINTENSIVE Certified Teacher Program in Latin America, and have their own Mini-Farm—El Mesquite—in Aguascalientes state, Mexico.
In August 2014, in recognition of their excellent work* towards further GB Teacher Certification, Agustin and Marisol were awarded their Advanced-Level Teacher Certification at the 5-Day Teacher Workshop closing ceremonies. In addition, John Jeavons determined that the couple has reached the Master-Level of Teacher Certification and awarded them certificates for this at the same time. The Master-Level involves not just a great understanding of GROW BIOINTENSIVE, but, equally important, an understanding and feeling for Soil, Food and People perspectives globally and locally. As Master teachers, they will be able to certify GB teachers at the beginning-, intermediate- and advanced-level. We are especially glad to have not just one, but two, GB Certified Master Teachers in Latin America, to take on this responsibility. It means that the certification of GB Teachers is in the hands of the Latin American people. This has been a long-term goal of Ecology Action and it is also our hope that this will occur in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America.
Click here to read more.
Agustin and Marisol came to Willits on June 29, 2014, and stayed through August 29 for study and review towards their Advanced-Level of GB Teacher Certification. John Jeavons met twice weekly with them during this time; they participated in Summer Course classes regularly, worked and gave good suggestions in The Jeavons Center Mini-Farm Garden, shared their experiences with Staff, 3-Year Apprentices, 6-Month and 2-Month Interns, assisted John with current projects, assisted significantly in the teaching involved in the 5-Day Teacher Workshop, and helped John evaluate potential future emphases in Latin America.
Along with all their other work and the running of their farm at El Mesquite, Agustin is working on his Master's Degree in Compost and Soils and Marisol on her Master's Degree in Seeds. In the 7.5 years since the completion of their EA Internship, they appear to have built up the Soil Organic Matter percentage in El Mesquite soil at a rapid rate—about 5 times more rapidly than normally occurs in farming. Marisol, as part of her thesis, is comparing seeds grown with GB practices to seeds grown with conventional practices. She ran seed experiments relative to this research while they were at The Jeavons Center in 2014. Both Agustin and Marisol are working on peer-reviewed articles on their individual research, to be published in 2015.
Grow Biointensive Agriculture Centre of Kenya (G-BIACK): Kenya
G-BIACK is located in Thika, Kenya and demonstrates, trains and promotes GROW BIOINTENSIVEAGRICULTURE methods and other appropriate community development techniques for sustainability among small-scale farm holders in Central, Eastern, and Nairobi Provinces in Kenya.
G-BIACK initiatives aim at eradicating poverty and improving the living standards of resource poor communities by promoting ecologically viable development strategies for sustainable and quality livelihoods.
Founders Samuel Nderitu and his wife Peris Wanjiru Nderitu are both graduates of the 2-Year Biointensive Training Program at Manor House Agricultural Centre in Kenya, sponsored by the Kilili Self-Help Project. They are experts in Biointensive agriculture; Samuel's focus is on community development and Peris is trained in community health development, including HIV/AIDS prevention.
Click here to read more.
The G-BIACK center sits on one acre of land, the average size of a family farm in our region. It is designed as a model farm for small-scale farm holders. The center has over 160 double-dug beds, all planted with different types of food crops, organically grown. Soil fertility is continuously improved and maintained through the use of composted bio-matter from the center’s gardens. There are also chickens, rabbits, dairy goats and an apiary. G-BIACK center staff trains small-scale farmers on sustainable ways and methods of increased food production both at our site, and through outreach to communities.
Click here to watch the twelve minute film Grow, about G-BIACK and the biointensive farming movement!
For more information go to http://www.g-biack.org/
Multinational Exchange for Sustainable Agriculture (MESA)
MESA connects farmers and sustainable food advocates around the world for participatory training and cross-cultural exchange to strengthen local, resilient food systems worldwide.
Since 1997, MESA has sponsored over 600 global farm stewards at over 250 U.S. host placements, including many internship participants with Ecology Action.
MESA proudly offers the only J-1 Training and Cultural Exchange Program--as designated by the U.S. Department of State--to solely facilitate a "share and learn" experience on behalf of sustainable agriculture for small-scale farmers and grassroots activists. MESA's U.S. agricultural program designation permits us to sponsor trainees (aka "Stewards") for up to 12 months on a J-1 training visa to come to the U.S. for training and cross-cultural exchange. MESA also facilitates international training and exchange opportunities with our alumni network for farmers and agrarians from the US and around the world.
Click here to read more.
A non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization, MESA enables cross-cultural exchange around global practices of sustainable agriculture. The training is a two-way exchange to spur innovation and preserve traditional techniques worldwide and advance a farmer-led grassroots movement to transform the global food system. Training programs focus on ecological production practices, processing, direct marketing, community organizing and education, and organic crop research and breeding.
For recruitment of Stewards for U.S. training, MESA establishes global partnerships with NGOs, university programs, and other organizations that are well regarded in the field of sustainable agriculture and cultural exchange. These International NGOs also offer training programs which are opened up to U.S. agriculturalists and MESA's alumni network.
MESA also manages competitive matching grant programs for participating Hosts and Stewards. Sustainable Projects Recognizing Innovative Growers (SPRIG) grants foster innovation, mentorship, and experimentation for U.S. sustainable farms by supporting collaborative on-site projects involving Hosts and Stewards. Upon U.S. program completion, Stewards are eligible for grants to launch SPRIG projects in their home communities. Since 1998, MESA has funded dozens of small-scale SPRIGs abroad designed by enterprising Steward alumni in Peru, Ecuador, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Lithuania, Armenia, Kenya, Bolivia and Mexico.
For more information, go to http://www.mesaprogram.org/
Kilili Self-Help Project: Kenya
Sandra Mardigian, a colleague of Ecology Action, started Kilili Self Help Project in Kenya in 1985 as a general community assistance fund. When word reached her of Manor House Agricultural Centre (MHAC), the Biointensive agriculture school that had just been started in western Kenya, she narrowed the focus of Kilili's funding to support MHAC graduates and their training of community farmer groups. With experience over the years, Sandra's vision evolved and an idea began to take shape for a grassroots GROW BIOINTENSIVE education center where farmers could come for training and the center's staff could also do outreach to train farmers in their communities.
In 2008, the concept was manifested with the opening of the Grow Biointensive Agriculture Center of Kenya (G-BIACK) near Nairobi, under the direction of Samuel and Peris Nderitu (both of whom graduated from MHAC). Fairly soon, Samuel and Peris began to realize that additional education was needed, because people had no knowledge of nutrition and were selling their bountiful Biointensive crops for cash rather than feeding their families for health.
Click here to read more.
Over several years, G-BIACK has developed a broad program of courses to counter the cultural obstacle of this cash mindset. The center provides a complementary spectrum of courses such as nutrition, family health, achieving diversity in the diet, HIV/AIDS information and patient care, and more; as well as fostering small businessdevelopment to make up for the money no longer coming to the family from crops now eaten rather than sold. From 2008 through 2014, G-BIACK has trained over 13,000 farmers, 3/4 of them women. G-BIACK is providing a new and innovative model for understanding the farmer culture and embedding an effective GROW BIOINTENSIVE understanding in a large population—and improving both health and finances in farmer families.
Kilili Self Help Project is located at 260 Marion Ave. Mill Valley CA 94941 USA
All of Kilili's focus and funding is now directed to G-BIACK.
Biointensive for Russia
Since 1990, Ecology Action's colleague Carol Vesecky has been facilitating GROW BIOINTENSIVE workshops and the translation of EA publications in Russia, Siberia and Uzbekistan. She started Biointensive for Russia (BfR) in 1993 to carry out this mission. In the earlier years of her organization, Carol identified Eurasians to come for training at EA. As a result, in the most recent count, 45 teachers in Russia were including GB in their school or university classes. BfR has also funded research projects for many years in areas contaminated by the Chernobyl nuclear accident. These tests were initially carried out by the Russian NGO Viola and are currently by the Russian Grassroots Alliance PERESVET. Results of the experiments show that double-digging and the use of compost can reduce the radionuclide content of the soil by about 30%.
Click here to read more.
Visit Biointensive for Russia’s websites for more information:
GROW BIOINTENSIVE Efforts in Sri Lanka
Starting in 2012, four men from Sri Lanka have been six-month interns at Ecology Action. Hemantha Abywaradhana came first, Sanjana Naikaluge and Don Nalaka in 2013 and Manjula Senanayaka in 2014. The four are now working together to help the GROW BIOINTENSIVE method take hold throughout the country. They are also planning ways to make Sri Lanka the hub of a Southeast Asia GB Network, offering GB basic-level training.
Click here to read more.
Hemantha has been working with farmers since 1998, first with a survey of traditional farmers and then helping build a national farmer federation to conserve traditional seeds and agro-resources. In a flooded village he saw for himself the strength and resiliency of a traditional rice variety, and started trying to influence the Ministry of Agriculture. The government finally subsidized research in traditional methods on marginal lands. Hemantha is currently the manager of a GB training and garden development program with the Dilmah Conservation Sustainable Agriculture Research Centre. Click here to read more about Hemantha.
Sanjana graduated from the Sri Lankan School of Agriculture then went to work for the Ministry of Agriculture, teaching farmers soil conservation in mountainous areas. Subsequently he worked directly with Hemantha for an NGO in Sri Lanka's western province—which had the most organic production of all the other provinces—providing organic workshops and crop clinics. They combined their efforts with another non-profit to reintroduce indigenous rice varieties and encourage indigenous crops in backyard gardens. After his internship, Sanjana reported the Ministry of Agriculture has approved GB for urban agriculture. Also the Ministry of Education has approved GB for school gardens. Click here to read more about Sanjana.
Don had several years of experience promoting organic agriculture before his EA internship, and is currently an agricultural extension officer, supervising over 300 farmers. After returning to Sri Lanka, he also was working with Hemantha. He reported that his government has now started subsidies for organic farming and has recently banned the use of certain herbicides and pesticides. Click here to read more about Don.
Before his EA internship, Manjula was also working with Sanjana and Hemantha for the Department of Agriculture of the Western Province of Sri Lanka. He reported that the Sri Lanka government has recently accepted the GROW BIOINTENSIVE method as the nation's approach to agriculture. Click here to read more about Manjula.
Jodi Roebuck – New Zealand
Jodi took two three-day workshops with Ecology Action and was a six-month intern in 2003. In 2012 he came to EA again to take a five-day workshop that started him on the certification track. Since 1998 Jodi has been using the GROW BIOINTENSIVE method and teaching it to people from New Zealand and Australia, as well as other countries. He is an expert seedsman and has 45 GB beds in his garden devoted to growing seeds. Jodi has gradually been upgrading his property to increase the number of long-term interns he can teach. He is also customizing short trainings—three days to two weeks—for internationals who need to fit training into their work schedule. He can be contacted at seedkeeper[at]xtra.co.nz.
Click here to read more.
Starting in 2000, Jodi Roebuck was a two-year apprentice at Koanga Gardens, New Zealand's only organic heirloom seedbank gardens at the time, which has 100 beds for seeds. While there he taught the Biointensive method to workshop participants, organic growers and at greenmarkets and garden centers. In 2007 he started giving trainings on his own land with a 7-month intern from Mexico. He has taught people from Ecuador, Germany, Egypt, Australia and the US, among others. Jodi has also been a teacher of Permaculture Design since 2005. He reported recently how amazed he is at the GROW BIOINTENSIVE method, which he finds to be "a whole system that reiterates all the principles that pop up in Permaculture."
Steve Moore – USA
Steve Moore is the Vice President and Associate Executive Director of Ecology Action. He and his family have farmed organically for over four decades, with a diversified farm background in small fruits, vegetables, bees, dairy cows, draft horses and other livestock.. He has used Biointensive techniques since 1995 in the market production of fruits and vegetables, and is an Intermediate-Level GROW BIOINTENSIVE teacher. Steve has been a pioneer in solar greenhouse and high tunnel production for over 25 years. His background also includes positions at the university level and in the development of environmental farming systems. He is currently the Director of AgroEcology at Elon University in North Carolina and was one of the GB Master Teachers at EA's two-week Farmer Course in 2014.
Click here to read more.
The Moores farmed organically in Pennsylvania with draft horses for 20 years. Steve then became the Director of the Center for Sustainable Living at Wilson College in Chambersburg, PA, where he and the family operated a successful 135-family CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and spearheaded CSA development for the region. After several years, Steve became the Farmer at Sonnewald Natural Foods, a 60-acre educational farm in Pennsylvania that has been teaching interns about organic farming since the 1950s. While there, Steve developed two GB passive solar greenhouses for growing food all year long. In Pennsylvania he founded the Robyn Van En Center for CSA Resources, was appointed to the Pennsylvania Sustainable Agriculture Advisory Board, and served two terms on the Board of Directors for the PA Association for Sustainable Agriculture.
Steve and Carol then moved to North Carolina, where he became the Manager of the Small Farm Unit and Agriculture Energy Specialist at the Center for Environmental Farming Systems at North Carolina State University. In Steve's current position at Elon University in NC, he is a teaching and research faculty member of the Environmental Studies Department, as well as the Director of AgroEcology. He has established and operates the first Certified GB Mini-Ag Center/Soil Test Station. Steve also created a Bachelor Degree program in Sustainable Food Systems based on GB techniques, and has established a cooperative agreement between the Peace Corps and Elon, with a resulting Peace Corps Prep Certification with 165 students enrolled.
Cindy Connor – USA
Cindy, a former market gardener, was instrumental in establishing the sustainable agriculture program at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College in Goochland,VA and taught there from 1999-2010. She started to realize that a person can be organic to the letter of the law, but still not be sustainable. She turned to Ecology Action to study sustainable growing and began keeping records and attending her first 3-Day workshop in 2000. She attended EA's teacher training workshop in 2001 and became certified at the basic level in 2002. Diet studies became her focus, along with sustainable growing methods, and she became certified at the intermediate level in 2006. She has since maintained her intermediate certificate yearly, has given workshops, created GB-based DVDs, written two books and several articles published in Mother Earth News and started a blog in 2011.
Click here to read more.
In 2008 Cindy released the DVD Cover Crops and Compost Crops IN Your Garden. Through her years of teaching she had fine-tuned her method of garden planning along with the worksheets she used with her students. In 2010 she released the DVD Develop a Sustainable Vegetable Garden Plan, that includes a CD with the worksheets. The DVDs are still part of the community college curriculum, although Cindy left the community college in 2010 to address a larger community of folks following her work.
She has done this with her blog (www.HomeplaceEarth.wordpress.com.)
GROW BIONTENSIVE continues to be the basis of her work. She also adjusts her method to suit her garden, climate, and experience. Cindy helped organize a 3-Day Workshop in Virginia in 2008 and attended one in North Carolina in 2010. She has written two articles for Mother Earth News magazine pertaining to growing a substantial part of your diet—"A Plan for Food Self-Sufficiency" Oct/Nov 2012 and "Best Staple Crops for Building Food Self-Sufficiency" June/July 2013—and is a frequent speaker at the Mother Earth News Fairs. Her study of growing all or a substantial part of one's food led Cindy to write Grow a Sustainable Diet: Planning and Growing to Feed Ourselves and the Earth, which was published by New Society Publishers in 2014. Her work brings personal experience and a different voice to GROW BIOINTENSIVE. Her book Seed Libraries: And Other Means of Keeping Seeds in the Hands of the People was published by New Society in 2015 by New Society Publishers. It will help people working on seed sharing initiatives in their communities. Cindy enjoys her relationship with Ecology Action and credits her study of GROW BIOINTENSIVE with providing her a practical base on which to build.