Mother Earth News Blogs > Organic Gardening

Organic Gardening

Get dirty, have fun and grow more food with great gardening tips from real-life gardeners.

Ecology Action Two-Week Farmers Course

John Jeavons at EMU 10-08--BLOG

For those of you who want to delve more deeply into sustainable practices in your garden, there is a new set of lectures available as video downloads from Ecology Action. Ecology Action came into being more than 40 years ago when John Jeavons (that’s him in the photo) was seeking the answer to his question of what is the least space it would take to grow food for one person for a year. He is still searching for the answer, with the qualifications that the area has to also grow the cover crops to feed the soil. The method he has developed to grow the most food in the least space, sustainably, is biologically intensive. Grow Biointensve is the name given to the system when all eight factors are followed. Those factors are deep soil preparation, use of compost, close plant spacing, crops to produce significant carbon in a small space, crops to produce significant calories in a small space, companion planting, open-pollinated seeds, and the whole system. My work is based on this system, which involves growing all of your compost materials.

These videos — four are free and seven cost $1.99 each, or all seven for $11.99 — will give you a good understanding about the work done through Ecology Action. The lectures are part of a 2-week farmers' course given at Ecology Action, near Willits, California, in January 2014. John Jeavons gives a 3-day Workshop at Ecology Action twice a year and occasionally elsewhere. It didn’t surprise me that there are four videos offered for free because it has been my experience that when John gives a 3-Day Workshop, he offers a free talk the preceding evening to the public in the community he is in. I took this photo of him during the free public lecture at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, in 2008 the evening preceding a 3-Day Workshop.

One of the free videos is Special Manual Tools in Food Production by Steve Moore. The tinkerers among you will be eager to try out some of his ideas. Steve directs the AgroEcology Program at Elon University in Elon, North Carolina. He also directs the Peace Corps program and the Ecology Action-certified Biointensive Research and Demonstration site at Elon U. In the video he shows some of the tools he has built to make the manual labor involved in gardening easier. In my blog post Wood Flats for Seed Starting I would have liked to have shown the simple jigs he has devised in working with flats, but there was not enough space. Now you can see them and watch Steve explain them yourself. From the variety of things he shows you, I’m sure it will get your creative juices flowing to devise things to use in your garden. Steve has long had an interest in energy efficiency and has written the Ecology Action Self-Teaching Mini-Series Booklet No. 37, Energy Use in Biointensive Food Production.

Ecology Action has a number of Booklets explaining their on-going research and John Jeavons is the author of How To Grow More Vegetables, the standard text for Grow Biointensive. These publications can be found at Bountiful Gardens. They are a good resource to use with the video lectures. Find more information about the videos and the Ecology Action publications at Homeplace Earth.

Cindy Conner is the author of Seed Libraries and Grow a Sustainable Diet and has produced DVDs about garden planning and managing cover crops with hand tools. Learn more about what she is up to at Homeplace Earth.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.