Small Scale Intensive
Improving the Nutrition of the
Most Economically Disadvantaged Families
October 24-27, 1976
Santa Barbara, California U.S.A.
EiF I *' T IRN I II I I I
SMALL SCALE INTENSIVE FOOD PRODUCTION
Improving the Nutrition
Most Economically Disadvantaged Families
LEAGUE FOR INTERNATIONAL FOOD EDUCATION
in cooperation with
Direct Relief Foundation
Santa Barbara Community Environmental Council
International Institute for Urban and Human Development
La Casa de Maria
Santa Barbara, California
October 24-27, 1976
Prepared under Contracd AIDIT/A-C-1077
on behalf of the Office of Nutrition,
Bureau for Technical Assistance, AID.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Hugh J. Roberts
Thomas A. MacCalla
Part I Opening Session
Opening Remarks .
Hugh J. Roberts
The Problem Defined .
Hugh J. Roberts
An Approach to a Solution: Round
Toward Alternative Agriculture
Stuart B. Hill
Valley Garden Project.
Part II The Approach in Detail
The French Intensive System of Gardening
on the French Intensive/Biodynamic Method .
Site Visit to the Mesa Project,
A Demonstration and Training Facility
Paul Relis and Warren Pierce
Evening Discussion Session .
Part III Application to Third World Countries
Home Gardens as a Nutrition Intervention
Y. H. Yang
Direct Relief Foundation Study Sites
in Milagro and Guayaquil, Ecuador .
Part IV Reports
Working Group Session Reports
Group A Report .. 85
Donald Engstrand, Chairperson
Wilson Adams, Rapporteur
Group B Report 87
Milton Salomon, Chairperson
Michael McFadden, Rapporteur
Group C Report 88
Jeffrey Ashe, Chairperson
Arthur Jokela, Rapporteur
Special Report from the Practitioners 94
Richard Joos and Raymon Chavez
Special Report from Hugh L. Popenoe 96
and the A.S.A./L.I.F.E. Committee
Conference Feedback Sheet A-i
Conference Evaluation Report A-3
List of Participants A-9
"Food and Agriculture" excerpt by Sterling Wortman A-12
Family Food Production Proposal A-13
The Facts of L.I.F.E. A-23
General Information A-27
International Institute for Urban and Human Development
The League for International Food Education (L.I.F.E.) is a consortium
of professional societies whose members volunteer their expertise to
assist people working on nutrition and food technology problems in the
less developed countries. One of L.I.F.E.'s objectives is to identify
ways of improving the nutritional status of the "poorest majority"
through increased linkages between the less developed countries, U.S.
private voluntary organizations, and the L.I.F.E. consortium societies.
The L.I.F.E. Workshop on Small Scale Intensive Food Production--and the
L.I.F.E. Family Food Production Proposl that served as the Workshop's
focus--was an attempt to achieve that objective. For three days members
of the American Society of Agronomy and representatives of a dozen pri-
vate voluntary organizations, together with experts in French Intensive/
Biodynamic Gardening and other resource persons, explored the idea that
a small scale, low input, high output system of food production might
be an appropriate technology to improve nutrition for many of the poor-
est families in the world. This report is a summary of those three days.
L.I.F.E. is funded under a contract with the Office of Nutrition, Bureau
for Technical Assistance, U.S. Agency for International Development.
However, financial assistance in the form of a grant from Private Agen-
cies Collaborating Together (PACT) as essential to the success of the
workshop, as was a contribution from an anonymous donor that enabled
participants to attend from Ecuador and Honduras.
Hugh J. Roberts
The Small Scale Intensive Food Production Workshop sponsored by the
League for International Food Education (L.I.F.E.) was a milestone event
in the cause of improved nutrition among the world's most impoverished
families. The workshop, held October 24-27, 1976, at La Casa de Maria,
Santa Barbara, California, served as a forum for an exchange of views,
information, and experiences related to family food production efforts
by private voluntary organizations (PVOs) and members of the agricul-
tural science community. More specifically, it was the special occasion
for reviewing the state of the art of the French Intensive/Biodynamic
Gardening technique and for assessing its applicability to Third World
The meeting was highly productive, and the success can be attributed
1) the leadership of Dr. Hugh J. Roberts, Executive Director of
2) the cooperation of the Santa Barbara Community Environmental Coun-
cil, the Direct Relief Foundation, and the International Institute
for Urban and Human Development, and
3) the active involvement of the fifty agricultural scientists, prac-
titioners, resource persons, and PVO representatives attending the
The substance of the three-day meeting was self-evident and the spirit
of the workshop was characterized by openness and responsiveness to is-
sues and considered opinions. In short, the sum of these efforts goes
beyond the proceedings reported herein. The continuing individual and
collaborative efforts of the mixed assembly of professionals, practi-
tioners, and participant observers provide the tangible testimony to the
significance of the L.I.F.E. gathering.
As Hugh Roberts commented in his "Opening Remarks", the results of
French Intensive/Biodynamic Gardening are impressive, but questions re-
main: "Is it scientifically sound?" and "Does it work with field crops
as well as garden fruits and vegetables?" He pointed out that vitamins
and minerals are important, but that the principal nutritional deficien-
cies in Third World countries are calories and protein that translate
into cereals, grains, pulses, oilseeds, and tubers. The questions he
posed were not indictments but provocative inquiries.
Richard Joos stated in response: "The approach is holistic and much
more than a method of food production. We welcome scientific documenta-
tion to assist in an even more efficient development of the techniques
and in their communication." It was this kind of interaction, coupled
with the persistent pragmatism of the PVOs that gave form to the Santa
Sterling Wortman's comment in the September issue of Scientific Ameri-
can concerning the limited value of mechanized agriculture per unit of
land and the use of Western-style, large scale mechanized farming in
developing countries provided a sense of timeliness.
Stuart Hill's definition of the problem of working within the frame-
work of short term linear systems (based on economic and political con-
siderations) instead of within the framework of an ecological system
(based on natural, cyclical, nutrient flows) set the stage for the work-
shop. The presentations on the French Intensive/Biodynamic Garden-
ing method by Richard Joos, Steve Kaffka, John Jeavons, Paul Relis,
and Warren Pierce provided added substance for the dialogue, discussion,
and debate which took place throughout the three days.
The reports of the working groups served as a capstone of the workshop.
They emphasized the importance of recognizing resource limitations in
Third World countries, of beginning with a local needs assessment, and
of understanding the socio-cultural and environmental context of any
proposed work program. They also stressed the value of establishing an
open program of delivery systems to propagate the theory and practice
of small scale intensive food production.
Neither the agricultural scientists, who are from some of the major U.S.
land grant universities, nor the organic gardeners, who practice and
teach French Intensive/Biodynamic Gardening, changed their opinions
about the value or danger of using chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
Nevertheless, by the end of the three-day session, they found common
ground in their mutual concern about malnutrition among the poorest of
the world's poor. They interpreted small scale intensive food produc-
tion not as a competitor to large scale commercial agriculture, but as
a supplement or alternative approach to improving the health and well-
being of economically disadvantaged families. They also agreed that
if intensive food production techniques were integrated with a philoso-
phy based upon the intimacy of man and nature, the method would be most
effective in less developed countries.
Adding to that consensus were the presentations by Y. H. Yang (on the
home garden as a low input high output food resource for rural families
in Asian and Pacific countries) and by Janice Gallagher (on the Direct
Relief Foundation study sites in Milagro and Guayaquil, Ecuador). The
workshop ended on this note signaling a swelling of a wave of interest
in and support for the method and for taking up the challenge posed by
the new knowledge and insights gained.
What remains to be done is the reformulation of the L.I.F.E. Proposal
on Family Food Production to include the insights and recommendations
generated at the workshop. Also needed is the formulation of a plan of
action engaging the talents and enthusiasm of the workshop participants
to field test the technical validity of small scale intensive food pro-
duction under a variety of tropical conditions and to investigate its po-
tential impact on the nutritional status of the urban and rural poor of
the Third World.
Thomas A. MacCalla
San Diego, California
i11 December 1976
Hugh J. Roberts
Good evening. I know I have already introduced myself to most of you;
but in case I missed someone, let me say again that my name is Hugh
Roberts and I am Executive Director of the League for International
Food Education. May I take this opportunity to welcome you to our
Workshop on Small Scale Intensive Food Production for Improving the
Nutrition of the Most Economically Disadvantaged Families, and take
a few minutes to talk about why we are together in this truly extra-
To understand the forces that brought us together, you first have to
understand the League for International Food Education, which we usu-
ally call by its happy acronym, L.I.F.E. (spelled with capital letters
with periods to distinguish it from the now defunct magazine and the
breakfast cereal of the same name). The truth of the matter is that
the acronym came first and the name was designed later to fit it. And
that explains why some people are misled into thinking we are an educa-
tional institution. A more accurate name might be the League for In-
ternational Technical Assistance in Food and Nutrition; but then our
friends would not have the fun of saying, "Hi, how's L.I.F.E.?", or
"That's L.I.F.E.", or "Say, when did you come to L.I.F.E.?". Nor would
the little green and white leaflet in your folders have been entitled
"The Facts of L.I.F.E.".
I hope you will read that leaflet sometime; but for now let me try to
summarize it in two sentences:
L.I.F.E. is a private, non-profit consortium of nine organizations,
eight of which are scientific societies whose members span the field
of food and nutrition from production to consumption; the ninth is
VITA, an organization with some similarities to L.I.F.E.
L.I.F.E.'s purpose is to respond to the needs of two constituencies:
--a significant portion of the members of the scientific societies
in the consortium who want to volunteer their expertise in the
cause of international technical assistance and
--the international development community that is working on food
and nutrition problems.
To summarize my two-sentence summary:
One group (chemists, food scientists and technologists, nutritionists,
chemical engineers, agricultural engineers, agronomists, food market-
ing specialists, and the like) wants to help;
the other group (overseas missions of the U.S. Agency for Interna-
tional Development, Peace Corps volunteers, missionaries, PVO per-
sonnel, ministers of agriculture and health in foreign governments,
foreign businessmen in the food industry, researchers in foreign uni-
versities, etc.) needs support.
L.I.F.E.'s role is to be the broker, the facilitator, the deviser of the
linkages that can bring the two together.
This workshop has its genesis in an earlier workshop of November 1975,
one that the Overseas Development Council organized for PVOs on the sub-
ject of food and nutrition in rural development. It was there I learned
that the Direct Relief Foundation had recently undertaken an Agricul-
tural Development Program in which they planned to train volunteers in
something called French Intensive/Biodynamic Gardening and to send these
volunteers to Third World countries to demonstrate this small scale,
low resource food production system. (We will hear about that program
I was eager to learn more; and as I talked to people working for PVOs
in international development, I discovered a lot of interest in promot-
ing food production by families for their own consumption. I found
that another organization, Community Development Foundation, was highly
interested in French Intensive/Biodynamic Gardening as a means for doing
that. And I came to California last March to see what it was all about.
I was intrigued by what I saw, but there were a couple of basic questions
in my mind. First, is this a scientifically sound approach to small
scale food production? The fact that there did not appear to be any
work on French Intensive/Biodynamic Gardening under way at any of the
major land grant universities seemed significant. And second, does it
work with field crops as well as with garden fruits and vegetables?
After all, vitamins and minerals are important; but the principal nutri-
tional deficiencies in Third World countries are calories and protein,
which translate into cereals, grains, pulses, oilseeds, and tubers.
Since one of the members of the L.I.F.E. consortium is the American Soci-
ety of Agronomy, and agronomists are experts in crops and soil science,
it seemed to me that here was an excellent opportunity for some agrono-
mists to volunteer their expertise to assist an important segment of the
international development community. Why not a workshop in which agrono-
mists, experts in French Intensive/Biodynamic Gardening, and representa-
tives of interested PVOs would explore together the technical validity
of small scale intensive food production and its potential impact on the
nutritional status of those families that Congress calls "the poorest of
the poor?" The idea sounded good.
Then to answer the question, "So you have a workshop, then what?", I
wrote a proposal outlining one course of action that might be followed
if the workshop resulted in a favorable recommendation. Most of you re-
ceived a copy of that proposal before you came here; there is also a
copy in the folder you received when you registered. Before you leave
you will be faced with the task of deciding whether that proposal should
be pursued, modified, or quietly recycled for its waste paper content.
So there you have the background; and I think I have indicated where
L.I.F.E. is coming from. For myself, personally, although I would like
to play the role of the objective researcher and say that I don't care
how it turns out as long as we learn something in the process, that is
not possible. No researcher is ever that objective, neither agronomists
nor biochemists. So let me state where I am coming from. I am convinced
that there are millions of very poor people in the world who are not able
to develop their full human potential because they are malnourished; and
they will remain malnourished in spite of the success of the Green Revo-
lution because they do not have access to the resources that the Green
Revolution requires. I was pleased to see some recognition of that fact
in the September Scientific American article by Sterling Wortman, Vice
President of the Rockefeller Foundation. Furthermore, I believe that a
low resource, small scale, family food production system is a sound ap-
proach that will enable those people to help themselves, and I am pull-
ing for it. But by Wednesday, you could convince me that I am wrong.
Now what about you? Where are you coming from? And what are your ex-
pectations with regard to the workshop? Obviously I can't know the ans-
wers to those questions for each of you, at least not at this point.
But I do know that each of you has decided to spend a valuable resource,
three days of your time, to be here. Most of you have squeezed some
travel funds out of a budget, your own or someone else's, that was al-
ready tight. And a few of you have even dipped into your personal funds
to be here.
That tells me you are concerned about the problem and interested in this
particular approach. But I also know some of you feel you are taking a
risk to be here, and you're not really comfortable about that. For in-
stance, the people who will be presenting their work tomorrow (Steve
Kaffka, John Jeavons, Richard Joos, Paul Relis) are taking the risk that
you agricultural scientists from the big land grant universities will
tear them apart. Not that they don't believe in what they are doing;
but they are painfully aware that their work has been done on a shoe-
string over a relatively short time, and is far from being satisfactorily
On the other hand, Steve, John Richard, Paul, did you know that some
agronomists were unwilling to accept the risk to their reputations that
they felt they would incur by participating in this workshop? The reputa-
tion of a scientist among his peers is vital to his professional liveli-
hood; and if French Intensive/Biodynamic Gardening should turn out to be
nothing more than a mixture of mysticism and compost, there could be
damage to the reputations of the scientists who are here. Perhaps the
people who have the most to gain and the least to lose (as long as they
don't get caught in the cross fire) are those of you who are with PVOs.
Even so, many of you have already made an investment in this approach
and might be hurt if the workshop concludes that the French Intensive/
Biodynamic Gardening system is totally unsound.
Given that somewhat sobering background, you will agree, I think, that
it is particularly important that each of us understands the context,
the philosophical framework if you will, within which we will be working
together. Our concern is not whether "organic food" (and I put that
term in quotes in deference to those who would point out that precious
little food is inorganic) or "organic farming" is good or bad. In
fact we are not concerned with farming at all. What we are concerned
with is food production primarily for home consumption (although the
potential for a marketable surplus does exist) by families whose access
to land and other resources is minimal, well below that of the small
farmer. It is to emphasize that focus that I have studiously avoided
the word "farming" or even "small scale agriculture". And while we
are on the subject of word choice, please remember that words have dif-
ferent connotations for people coming from different backgrounds. Many
disagreements stem from different interpretations of a word or phrase.
In the diverse group of people at this workshop it will be especially
important for us to check with each other on definitions of words and
terms, so that we can communicate effectively.
Within that context, or philosophical framework, the structure of the
workshop has seven main components that are reflected in the agenda
you have in your folder.
1. This evening orientation; the problem and an approach to a solu-
2. Tomorrow morning first the "what" of the method; the fundamentals
or essence and some results.
Let me interrupt here to follow some of my own advice and define some
terms. When I talk about "the method" I do so in lower case letters.
For me the method is a combination of techniques and principles adapted
to a specific situation. I will also refer to that combination as a
"technology". Some people may talk about The Method, referring to a
specific combination of techniques, principles, and philosophy as taught
by Alan Chadwick who introduced it to the U.S. I would hope that during
the workshop we could consider The Method to be but one (possibly the
best) of a number of intensive methods based on the same technical prin-
3. Tomorrow, late morning, and afternoon the "how" of the method,
first on slides, then an on-site demonstration.
4. Tomorrow evening an in-depth discussion of the method involving
the entire group.
5. Tuesday morning, first half the application of the approach to
6. The rest of Tuesday we will break out into small groups which
will set their own schedules for an analysis and synthesis of
7. Wednesday morning we come back together to hear and respond to
the recommendations of the groups, and we will either agree, or
agree to disagree, on a final set of recommendations.
Those recommendations plus a record of the formal presentations and your
comments on the conference feedback sheet will constitute the output that
I am seeking from you. Any questions? All right, let's go to work.
THE PROBLEM DEFINED
Hugh J. Roberts
The world food problem has been the subject of a sufficient number of
articles, books, seminars, and conferences that there is no need to
dwell upon it here. But there is a need for someone to shout, loudly
and repeatedly, that the world food problem is multi-dimensional; and
that there is no one-dimensional solution. Neither increased food pro-
duction, nor reduced population growth, nor widespread nutrition educa-
tion, nor redistribution of income, nor any other single approach is go-
ing to solve it.
The 1974 World Food Conference made an effort to reduce the magnitude
of the problem. It called for a focus on malnutrition in the least de-
veloped countries among the most vulnerable individuals: pregnant and
lactating women and their preschool children in families where income
is insufficient to provide their minimum daily food requirements.
Nevertheless, since an estimated 25% of the world's population consume
less than 80% of the minimum daily food requirements, and most of those
are families of landless laborers or migrants to urban slums, the dimen-
sions of the problem are still enormous.
Moreover, the causes of malnutrition are complex and multi-faceted.
Basically, the direct causes are inadequate quantity and quality of food
consumed and poor utilization of nutrients due to infectious diseases
and parasites. However, these direct causes are in turn the result of
a broad range of sociocultural, economic, and environmental factors
such as underemployment, contaminated water supplies, inadequate sani-
tation and public health services, unequal distribution of food within
the family, and dietary taboos.
Clearly programs to reduce malnutrition, even in a limited target popu-
lation, should address the entire complex of causes. Yet that approach
should not preclude the investigation of individual aspects of the prob-
lem. Any strategy designed to deliver a broad-based and integrated pack-
age of reinforcing health, education, and food production/distribution
programs will, of necessity, be built out of interventions that address
Furthermore, in spite of the need to attack the problem on all fronts
simultaneously, implementation of such a complex strategy may be beyond
our capability. On the other hand, we can find encouragement in some
recent integrated rural development projects that promise to improve the
well-being of small farmers. Unfortunately such schemes offer nothing
to the poorest families among whom the most serious malnutrition is con-
centrated. Their limited resources fall below the minimum requirements
And that is the problem to be addressed in this workshop: the plight
of the world's most economically disadvantaged families. Their resources
are insufficient to allow their participation in development projects
designed to improve the productivity of the small farmer. Their income
is inadequate to purchase sufficient food to meet their nutritional re-
quirements. Consequently, in these families the babies die most fre-
quently, the surviving children are the most seriously malnourished,
and the women's lives are shortened the most by too many pregnancies
and too little food. Still these people are filled with human poten-
tial and with human dignity that demands our respect.
What do we suggest?
AN APPROACH TO A SOLUTION: Round Valley Garden Project
The Round Valley Garden Project, located on a fifteen acre farm in the
northern California mountain village of Covelo, is an unusual educa-
tional experiment in which a group of young people are committing their
energies to a garden and to agricultural practice which focuses on hu-
man survival. The people who teach and learn in this garden deal with
specific questions: "How mayI spend my life usefully?" "What in the
world may I do that matters?" "How may I survive by doing things I be-
lieve in and care about?"
Under the direction of Alan Chadwick, one of the world's most respected
horticulturists, young people have been trained in the classic tradi-
tions of intensive gardening techniques by which plants producing health-
ful foods may be obtained in greater yields, leaving the soil improved
rather than depleted, and without resortingto chemical intervention.
Twenty-five apprentices and a staff of five work in the garden and partic-
ipate in a program of lectures and workshops dealing not only with horti-
cultural subjects but also the related arts and crafts. Training is
given free of tuition charges in exchange for a year's commitment of
time and energy. The students share in the garden's output of food and
are expected to provide their own shelter. The work is hard and they
soon discover that for every fragment of knowledgeof the horticultural
techniques, there must be an equivalent deepening of self-awareness and
The Round Valley Garden Project was started in 1972 and was supported
initially by the Planning Conservation Foundation. In 1974, the Insti-
tute for Man and Nature, a non-profit California educational organiza-
tion, was established to coordinate support for the Project's activities.
Under its sponsorship, plans are being made to introduce a number of
projects into the community and beyond, which relate to and support the
garden and its training program.
The procedures followed in the Round Valley Garden Project, and much of
its philosophic basis, are derived from European traditions and particu-
larly from the work of the German scientist-philosopher Rudoph Steiner.
The classical techniques of England, France, and Italy and the ideas of
Steiner have been synthesized by Steiner's student, Alan Chadwick, who
is the director of the Round Valley Garden Project. Intrinsic to the ap-
proach (it is much too comprehensive and complex to label as a "method")
is the integration of meticulous technique and a world view. The parts
of this approach that may be described as "method" are intensely practi-
cal -- centering on the building of soil fertility, the maintenance of
productivity, and the creation of environments in which each plant may
reach its maximum potential. The result is a radically increased yield
of a superior nutritional quality. Inseparable from such techniques is
a set of philosophic and spiritual principles as intensely idealistic as
the other is practical. The two are as one; and in their union is the
secret of the enormous appeal of this approach and the key to its poten-
Work in the biodynamic garden is labor intensive. Machine power is em-
ployed only in those instances where hand labor is unequal to the task,
which is seldom. Beds are dug by hand. Field crops are cultivated by
hand. Soils are prepared and crops are harvested by hand. The reasons
go beyond a simple abundance of apprentice labor. The biodynamic view
of things places the human in a very special relationship to the plants
and creatures in his or her care. It involves obligations that may not
be discharged by machinery or from a distance, but may only be properly
met by individuals who have finely tuned perceptions, who pay close at-
tention to every detail, and who have direct physical contact with the
soil and plants.
It quickly becomes clear to garden visitors that the biodynamic approach
is enormously productive compared with conventional methods. What is
more difficult to see and, for some, harder to accept, is that the abun-
dance of superior fruits, flowers, and vegetables is as much a result
of human caring as it is of special techniques. Though biodynamic
"methods" can heal abused soils and restore productivity, the signifi-
cance of this approach lies in bringing the human spirit into harmony
with natural forces -- a union the potential of which may be glimpsed
in the Round Valley Garden.
One of the most important tasks at the Round Valley Garden Project is
the restoration of genetic balance in common food plants in order to
recover their original nutritional characteristics. The hybridization
of domestic plants was not an overnight event, but has taken place over
a century or more during which agriculture in this country evolved from
home practice to corporate enterprise.
The widespread application of machine technology and the demands of com-
mercial marketing have brought about a corresponding attempt to stan-
dardize farm produce. The price nature has exacted for this convenience
to man is a large and ominous decline in nutritional quality and flavor.
As plants are bred for special characteristics, they lose the vitality
of the original form. In order to restore the vigor of the original
plant, specimens which survive in more or less original form must be
found and propagated for seed.
Nutritionists have pointed out that a continued trend toward processed
foods and the further mechanization of agriculture without attention to
the decline in nutritional quality will lead to the gravest consequences.
Our nation is as healthy as the food we consume. The genetic restora-
tion of domestic food plants is a matter of urgent necessity.
The project is at work to recover early strains of grains and orchard
fruit as well as a variety of vegetable and flowering plants. A number
of these are already in use in the Round Valley Garden.
Editor's note: The above comments introduced a slide presentation of
the Round Valley Garden Project.
TOWARD ALTERNATIVE AGRICULTURE
Stuart B. Hill
Some view ecological or organic farming as the way of the past. I tend
to view it as the way of the future. For an increasing number of people,
it is the way of the present. For some it is a new technique; and for
others, a kind of religion. It is really all of these things: the
past, present, and future brought together with a new technology and
life-style. It is important that we do not concentrate on just one part
of this and that we view it as one aspect of an attempt to establish a
life-style for our species that can be permanent within the limitations
of geological change.
In defining the problem of this conference, I would like to focus on the
soil-food-health chain (Figure 1). I hope that by doing this some of
the fundamental differences between current and ecological methods of
food production will be clarified.
Figure 1. The Soil-Food-Health Chain
Food -- Individual nutrition requirements
T Laws of nature
Soil( Permanent management systems
There are two primary needs within this chain:
1. A permanent, self-sustaining system for producing food and fiber.
As the present system is dependent on fossil fuels and other non-
renewable resources, it can be only temporary. We have to establish
a "post-industrial" agriculture.
2. A way of identifying and satisfying our individual nutritional needs.
There is a tendency with mass approaches to everything to work out
what the average person needs to be nutritionally satisfied. Be-
cause individual needs vary enormously, this is unsatisfactory.
Thus, the establishment of an alternative agriculture is dependent on
knowing our specific nutritional needs and knowing how to manage agro-
ecosystems in a permanent way.
Our political and economic systems, by requiring us to examine short-
term relationships only, has deluded us into believing that organisms
and environments can be forced to conform to artificial and not ecolog-
ical laws. The tendency for many harmful effects to take a long time
to manifest themselves has encouraged this attitude. However, the prob-
lems that we now encounter are symptomatic of this approach. Most of
the solutions being proposed are developed without consideration for their
broader or long-term effects.
The generation of these solutions may be regarded simply as irresponsible
dreaming. An amusing example of this was displayed by an uninhibited
colleague who remarked at an extravagant luncheon that he was looking
forward to the day when science will have advanced to the point where
he can have his anus joined to his mouth, and so cut out the middleman.
It is obvious that such an attempt to bypass nature would not solve the
food crisis. However, we are indulging in the same sort of dreaming
when we imagine we can solve problems of infertile soils, pests, dis-
eases, and deficient foods simply by means of inorganic fertilizers,
pesticides, antibiotics, and food supplements. The proposal of these
kinds of solutions is symptomatic of a science trapped in the strangle-
hold of inductive logic and reductionism. Adherence to these approaches
is preventing us from dealing with the causes of our problems.
Pests do not arise because of a deficiency of pesticide in the environ-
ment any more than headaches result from a lack of aspirin in the blood.
We get headaches because of the way in which we conduct our li Is, nd
we get pests in the fields because of the way we manage them 9 .
In addition to the above criticism, solutions to symptoms eventually cre-
ate problems in other areas. Hence, in order to increase yields, nitro-
gen fertilizers, synthesized from natural gas, are being applied to our
soils in ever-increasing amounts. The side effects of this application
include the depletion of natural gas reserves, the contamination of food
and water with nitrates resultingg in health and pollution problems),
damage to the ozone layer by nitrous oxides, and the accelerated decom-
position of soil organic matter. The associated loss of soil structure
has led to increased erosion. The use of synthetic inorganic fertilizers
has also allowed us to discard food and agricultural wastes rather than
returning them to agricultural land as fertilizer. Thus, most food wastes
are incinerated, released into bodies of water, or deposited on non-
productive land as landfill, causing air, water, or land pollution.
Rather than work within the natural cyclical nutrient flows we have used
manpower and resources to establish linear systems. The fact that they
function within the framework of our short-term economic view only justi-
fies them economically. Ecologically, linear systems make no sense at all.
Unfortunately, we have allowed powerful bureaucracies to develop that
are able only to generate and implement these "specialist (simplistic)
solutions". Also, it is questionable whether they are even anxious to
solve the problems in the long term, as this would deprive them of their
power. It is little wonder that alternative lines of research are sys-
Solutions to symptoms are guaranteed to be addictive and disruptive.
While our present system provides the means for generating profit, em-
ployment, and political power, it is a treadmill that we must get off
if we are to deal with the causes of our problem.
It is important to realize that our survival is dependent not on economic
but ecological relationships with the environment. Consequently economic
systems must develop around ecological realities. Therefore, in order
to establish agricultural policies that can be permanent, we have to
1) the current state of our food system,
2) our needs and the ways in which agriculture can satisfy them, and
3) the laws of nature and the limitations of the environment.
It is a matter of recognizing where we are now, deciding where we want
to go, and finding out how we are going to get there.
The Current State of Our Food System
Our present "production for profit" food system has evolved from one in
which production was for "use". In striving to survive economically,
agriculture has had to increase production per area and per farmer. This
has led not only to an increased dependence on non-renewable resources,
but it has also become a threat to its renewable resource base, and to
human health. The farmer is unfortunately in a weak position. He has
little control over costs of his outputs and no control over his inputs;
he is unfairly taxed and is continually having to run to the bank mana-
ger to bail himself out. Few other sectors of society are so vulnerable.
Consequently, it is unlikely that the farmer will be able to correct this
It is our view that this state of affairs has already led to a loss of
food quality. The ways in which the nutritional quality of plant materi-
als might be decreased are illustrated in figure 2. This deductive model
is based on the concept of Roger Williams that the body can only suf-
fer from two nutritional problems -- lack of certain required nutrients
(malnutrition) and the presence of toxins (poisoning). The model asks
how our various food production and handling practices might affect the
nutritional and toxic status of the food currently available.
Figure 2. Factors That Might Negatively Affect Food Quality
AGRICULTURAL PRACTICES INVOLVED IN PLANT PRODUCTION
(equivalent practices associated with animal
production could be examined in a similar way)
Selection of plant:
for non-nutritional factors POTENTIALLY NEGATIVE
e.g. productivity & profit (by hybridization) NUTRITIONAL CHANGES
shape & size Reductions in certain:
shelf life amino acids
pest & disease resistance vitamins
ability to be machine picked trace minerals
Selection of site: flavour factors
criteria may conflict with nutritional objectives and in fibre
e.g. economic factors
ease of mechanization Additions:
synthetic organic chemicals:
Planting design: herbicides
may reduce food quality insecticides, etc.
.g. monoculture depletes soil of certain plant growth regulators
nutrients natural organic chemicals:
Maintenance of site: fats
cultivation: damage to plant roots may lead to toxins
mineral imbalance antibiotics
irrigation: in drylands may lead to salting up of hormones
soil; in other areas to leaching out of botanical pesticides
nutrients inorganic chemicals:
fertilizer use: use of limited nutrients may cause im- water
balance in others; "N" use often nitrates
increases heavy metals
pesticide use: may leave residues of herbicides, food additives:
insecticides, etc. in crops preservatives
may compromise food quality antioxidants, deoderi-
e.g. picked when unripe zers
damaged during harvesting emulsifiers, stabili-
FOOD HANDLING extenders
arrested before ripe to permit this damage & contami- acidifiers
nation during transportation clarifiers, etc.
Storage: More subtle changes:
physical or chemical treatment to: in the balance between nut-
prevent ripening or to ripen rients;
control pests from laevo- to dextro-rotary
amino acids & certain
physical & chemical treatment to: from cis to trans fatty acids
make "more attractive"
change the form & flavour
PCB's & other chemicals in packaging materials
cooking may involve loss of nutrients by:
salting out in oil or water
under stress; with other foods that interfere with
This is particularly important because our nutritional requirements
have increased, partly as a result of exposure to the growing number
of poisons in the environment 35, 47 that require detoxification.
Thus, we have a greater need for high-quality food that cannot be sat-
isfied by current agricultural practices. Ironically, the system that
should supply us with this food is, instead, contaminating it with poi-
sons and decreasing its nutrient content.
The increase in degenerative diseases in the developed world, and in
the less developed areas under the influence of the former6, should not
come as a surprise. Degeneration is the consequence of genetic predis-
osition, malnutrition, toxification (through air, water, and food)10, 24,
lack of exercise, stress, and inadequate relaxation (Figure 3).
This makes common sense, yet the dominant approaches being taken to deal
with degenerative diseases include the search for causative organisms,
the physical or chemical destruction of degenerative tissues (remember
that the surgeon reigns supreme within the medical profession), and the
masking of the situation with pain killing drugs. This tendency to deal
with symptoms rather than with causes, which is equally prevalent in
medicine and agriculture, has become the major degenerative disease of
Figure 3. Relationships Between Factors That Affect Our Well-Being
Thus, we consider that the prevention of degenerative diseases will re-
quire not just medical approaches, but the combined efforts of agricul-
turalists, nutritionists, geneticists, environmental scientists, clini-
cal ecologists, and experts concerned with physical and mental health.
Needs and the Way in Which Agriculture Can Satisfy Them
To survive in a healthy, contented state, we essentially have to develop
a symbiotic relationship with our support environment. This requires
that we identify our real needs10, 24 and the ability of the environment
to satisfy them. Economists frequently distinguish between "real needs"
(basic food, shelter, and clothing) and "manipulated or non-essential
wants" (many of which we strive for to lift us above our fellows). All
too often "real needs" are sacrificed for the latter.
The food industry has had to manipulate our eating habits in order to
dispose of the surpluses generated by our highly specialized and "effi-
cient" production system. Thus, more money is now spent on foods such
as corn, wheat, and potatoes in their highly processed and nutritionally
inferior forms (e.g., cornflakes, cookies, and potato chips) than in
their more valuable elemental stately. The processing industry, through
the clever use of advertising, has become so successful that it now domi-
nates the food systeml7, 28; and agriculture has been relegated to the
position of merely supplying the raw materials. Hence, agriculture now
caters largely to "manipulated wants".
Unless we change our myopic view of efficiency, we are misleading our-
selves in believing that a more "efficient" agricultural system is the
panacea for the food and energy crisis. Changes in policy will result
in "real" progress only if such increases in efficiency are concerned
with the production and fair distribution of items that we really need.
Laws of Nature and Environmental Realities
In considering this subject, we have repeatedly felt that the problems
identified above are obvious. And yet they have not been able to stimu-
late any real attempt to deal with them at the causal level. Why do
most people find it so difficult to deal with these problems? There ap-
pear to be three reasons for this.
First, we have become so adapted to the present situation that we find
it difficult to view ourselves objectively. The tendency to defend the
status quo and to recognize problems as being apart from ourselves pro-
vides evidence of this.
Second, the information explosion and expanding scale of production have
forced people to specialize. The increase in inductive and reductionist
approaches in science and the tendency to deal with symptoms rather than
causes (as discussed above) are associated with this. In this way it
has become increasingly difficult for people to comprehend the complex
realities of nature.
Third, most religions and political ideologies tend to separate us from
the support environment, e.g., our "dominion over nature""*. This has
been considerably reinforced over the past hundred years by our use of
fossil fuels to free ourselves from the constraints that dominated the
lives of our ancestors. For example, when it is hot we tend to seek
places that are air-conditioned; we no longer know where the naturally
cool areas are within the environment.
To counteract these problems we must make a conscious effort to examine
ourselves objectively, comprehensively, and in relation to the support
environment. One way to do this is to ask questions of ourselves that
an ecologist would ask when studying other organisms:
How many are there? For us how many is optimum?
How are they distributed? How should and shouldn't we distribute ourselves?
What are they doing? What should and shouldn't we do?
The relationships among these three variables and the support environ-
ment are shown in Figure 4.
Figure 4. Interrelationships Between the Factors That Determine Survival
Many people concerned with the food crisis tend to regard it as a popula-
tion problem. However, we cannot expect to solve our problems by reduc-
ing population growth if some or all members of the remaining population
continue to distribute themselves out of context with the environment or
indulge in activities that are a threat to survival.
In deciding what we should and should not do, it is useful to consider
the following four "laws of nature"7, 8, 9. All species, including our
own, are subject to these laws. The fact that we have been able to fol-
low a "live now pay later" philosophy for so long should not be taken
as evidence to the contrary. The Earth has an enormous amount of capital
in the form of fossil fuels and other non-renewable resources, soil fer-
tility, and ecosystem stability (evolved over millions of years through
increased complexity). We have developed a life-style dependent on the
exploitation of this capital31. It is understandable that people are
not willing to sacrifice those activities and life-styles supported by
these resources; and hence, that they become defensive when it is sug-
gested they will have to reduce this dependence.
The first law of nature is that survival for any species, whether it is
a plant, animal, or microorganism, is dependent on needs, the availabil-
ity of what is needed, and on various mortality factors. If we examine
our current food system we find that it contravenes this law at every
stage. We are producing many things we do not need. The system is based
on non-renewable resources; and some of the technologies we employ are
lethal or sub-lethal, e.g., injuries by machinery and poisoning by toxic
chemicals. The implications for policymakers are that they support ef-
forts to distinguish between real needs and manipulated wants and estab-
lish a safe food system based on renewable resources.
The second law is that relationships are cyclical. Modern agriculture
is characterized by linear nutrient flows. Thus we produce fertilizer
to feed plants, to feed animals, to feed people, and in the process,
to pollute rivers. It is essential that we abandon this practice and
develop cyclical systems. For instance, natural organic waste materials
should be returned to the land as fertilizer.
The third law is that all natural ecosystems become more complex with
time. Complex systems develop naturally by means of energy from the sun.
It is ironic that we have developed a food system based on simplifying
the biological components of the environment by means of a technology of
increasing complexity. The farmer needs to know less and less about biol-
ogy and more and more about engineering, chemistry, and economics. In
trying to keep the agro-ecosystem simple, we are essentially using fos-
sil fuel in opposition to the energy from the sun. Clearly we must learn
to manage complex biological systems, an example of which is intercropping.
The fourth law is that there are various biochemical constraints that ap-
ply to all life. For example, there are many compounds which do not
exist in living organisms. Consequently, the decomposers that break down
dead organisms have adapted to a very restricted diet. Thus if organic
compounds are produced that have no counterpart in nature, they will not
likely break down biologically. We must establish a life-style that
relies only on those organic materials that have a counterpart in nature
and ban or severely restrict the production of other organic chemicals.
The laws of nature know no compromise. They are constant, at least with-
in the framework of human history, and the sooner our species becomes
aware of these laws and establishes political, social, and economic
systems that are consequential upon them, the sooner we will be able to
move toward real solutions to our problems.
Our preliminary views of wht a1"p mant" oo sy em might involve
are presented in Figure 5 -' In designing
this system we have taken the above constraints into consideration. The
difference between our system and the present food system may be seen
most clearly by comparing Figures 5 and 6.
The only group of producers currently attempting to utilize a significant
number of these approaches are the "organic" farmers. Despite the find-
ings of the Center for the Biology of Natural Systems22, 23, many agri-
culturalists still maintain that the people of the world could not be
fed by employing these methods, 12. A number of years ago Dr. 0. W.
Grussendorfl of Manitoba set out to prove that this was not so. He
selected a piece of land declared completely unfit for agriculture. In
fact, it was so unfit that he purchased it for one dollar an acre. He
established a mixed farm, composted his waste biodynamically39, and ap-
plied it to his land, while importing no fertilizers, pesticides, or
other materials into the system. In 1968 he produced 1000 bushels of
potatoes an acre and 50 bushels of top quality wheat. The average for
Canada at that time was 168 and 22 bushels, respectively.
It is our opinion that we could learn much by studying the methods of
such people as Dr. Grussendorf, for they are doing what many conventional
agriculturalists regard as impossible5. Their efficient use of energy22, 23
represents only one feature of the system they are employing. (Several
other successful "organic" farmers are interviewed in Christopher Chap-
man's recent film for the National Film Board of Canada entitled "A Sense
of Humus", 1976).
Currently our food system is designed to produce food that can be sold
rather than food that meets real needs. It is imperative that we estab-
1) systems for producing food (and fiber) that can be "permanent" and
2) ways for identifying each individual's nutritional needs.
As both of these are determined by the laws of nature, it essential that
we become aware of those laws.
Many changes will be required if we are to develop a viable alternative
food system. Even though energy studies have revealed several weaknesses
within the present system, far-reaching political and socioeconomic changes
Figure 5. An Alternative Agriculture
"Permanent" production strategies to meet individual nutritional
needs while maintaining ecosystem stability (environmentally
supportive, minimally disrupting, using,yet respecting the "laws
of nature" part of a survival ethic).
Based on renewable resources.
Holistic approach to problem solving utilizing multidisciplinary,
CLIMATE & COSMIC
driers & barns.
scale, fuel &
CULTURAL POLICIES AND O
Regional self-sufficiency; decentralized food systems; supportive
1. urban food production;
2. self-sufficient homesteads, with small surplus;
3. large farms, redesigned along ecological lines.
Conservation or improvement of soil fertility.
Utilizing biological & chemical indicators in balancing all plant nutrients.
Application of microbial inoculants, compost, sewage, green manure & other natural organic
materials; minimal use of inorganic materials.
Minimal, low-impact tillage; mulching; drip-ir igation.
Breeding, selection, & management to minimize environmental impact, dependence on synthetic
chemicals & energy, & to optimize nutritional quality.
Preventative disease & pest control (resistant varieties, nutritional & habitat management
Reliant on expanded gene pool (new species & varieties).
Complex planting design: strip & mixed cropping, rotations.
L "Herbal" & indigenous mixtures for pastures.
Seed & foliar application of naturally occurring plant nutrients, hormones (e.g. seaweed
cytokinins) & microorganisms.
New uses for crop outputs.
Improved feed quality (e.g. mold prevention); alternative sources of feed.
Use of early indicators, gut microflora, herbs, non-specific antigens, trace minerals, &
vitamins in disease prevention & treatment.
Mixed pasture management systems.
Humane handling of livestock.
New sources of animal protein (e.g. small mammals, wild game, fish ponds, insects).
FOOD & NUTRITION
Improvement of food
quality to meet
Promotion of alter-
natives to animal
to permit storage
Return of food
wastes to agro-
Dependent on solar & renewable
energy, managed on a regional
basis for permanence without
Supportive of cyclical nutrient
flows through optimal management
No waste overload through controlled
production, recycling & monitoring
of environmental quality.
No synthetic organic chemicals.
Manipulation of diversity &
succession to provide stability.
Conservation of rural landscape &
Rejuvenation of damaged & non-
Environmental/nutritional models of
health & disease.
Cognisant of soil-food-health
relationships & importance of
identifying optimal diet for
Meta-economic approach: sensitive
to non-profit criteria (external-
ities, ecological & human values;
distinguishing between real &
Redistribution of wealth & power.
direct & co-operative marketing.
Use of cybernetics in long-term
Human-capital intensive, employing
Sensitive to work quality.
supportive of rural people. /
Figure 6. Some Possible Negative Aspects of Modern Agriculture
PREVAILING AGRICULTURAL POLICIES AND OBJECTIVES
Maximize productivity & manipulate distribution for profit & Vertically integral
political influence ("agro-power"). Short-term economic
Increase farm size, particularly with respect to non-physical damage to enviroi
economies of scale. Simplistic approach
te, specialize & simplify (creates instability).
c policies encourage use of finite resources, &
nment & human health.
h to problem solving (treats symptoms, not causes).
Cloud seeding (may
create drought in
increase in size
Dependent on finite fossil
fuel energy & other non-
(exchanged for food).
Destruction of renewable
Linear nutrient flows
replace natural cycles.
Most food wastes not returned to land, i.e. we are mining the soil.
Physically & chemically manipulated; results in soil pollution,
salinization, erosion and declining levels of organic matter,
soil biota & fertility.
Based on few species & varieties (often hybrids), usually
selected for non-nutritional factors.
Simple planting designs (monoculture).
Crops often unable to compete with weeds & susceptible to pests.
Dependent on herbicides, pesticides, synthetic fertilizers,
irrigation &/or drainage.
Most arable land is used for production of animal feed.
Characteristics similar to plant production.
Stressed by crowded conditions.
Dependent on dietary supplements, hormones, antibiotics &
In competition with people for food & land.
Centralization of wealth &
Declining farm population.
Rural & urban decay.
Responsive to technological, not
Waste overload & contamination by
synthetic toxic chemicals;
results in declining environmental
Loss of wildlife habitats & certain
ss of prime land to urban sprawl
FOOD & NUTRITION
Emphasis on animal
lost &/or toxins
added at each
Removal of food
wastes from agro-
eco-system by export.
Increase in nutritionally &
diseases (diabetes, cancer,
heart disease, etc.).
will be needed in order to create an environment in which those involved
can respond to these findings. This situation will similarly prevent
people from adequately responding to the findings of any other studies
of the food system.
Consequently, scientists are naive if they expect that the required
changes will necessarily follow high quality research. One potentially
serious weakness within our food system (to which energy studies have
not addressed themselves) is that food quality maybe compromised at
every stage within the food chain. Unless attention is paid to this
situation, we predict we will experience further increases in the inci-
dence of degenerative diseases. Indeed, this situation already may be
further advanced than we suspect.
We are encouraged, however, by the recent food and nutrition policies
implemented by the Norwegian government They have established models
of consumption based on health and resource considerations and have pro-
ceeded to implement policies that will lead to changes in production and
eating habits. For example, the price of range fed beef, which contains
less saturated fat than feedlot beef, has been reduced below that of
the latter. They expect, among other things, that this will help re-
duce the incidence of heart disease.
It is our hope that other countries will soon examine their food sys-
tems and make the necessary changes in policy.
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THE FRENCH INTENSIVE SYSTEM OF GARDENING
Techniques that rely on resourcefulness and creativity and training that
stresses these characteristics are important parts of the answer to ques-
tions posed by the problem of human hunger in a world of rapidly diminish-
ing resources. The French Intensive System is a particular example of
creativity and resourcefulness adapted to a small scale approach with
the self-imposed limits of organic (or ecologically minded) techniques.
What follows is a description, using as an example a discussion of the
techniques involved in developing vegetable and flower beds according to
the French Intensive System of what I consider to be essential about the
technique. What is important in the French Intensive System for this
workshop are those qualities about it that represent a creative, inge-
nious approach to the problems of cultivation within self-imposed, eco-
The French Intensive System is an innovative combination of traditional
practices with new and somewhat novel insights into the phenomenon of
plant growth. It was first introduced into the United States at the
University of California at Santa Cruz by Mr. Alan Chadwick. He has con-
tinued to evolve his techniques and to expand upon his insights since
leaving Santa Cruz. I am not speaking for Mr. Chadwick in discussing the
French Intensive System. I hope to express what I consider to be the es-
sence of the system based on my work with Mr. Chadwick and my experience
with it these past eight years.
In doing so I will further elaborate on what I mean when I say "French
Intensive System" by discussing first the systematic nature of this
method, and then describing the historical antecedents and philosophical
origins of the method. After this, I will elaborate on some technical
principles which underlie certain aspects of the French Intensive vege-
table garden and its design.
There are other topics that could be discussed that are important in the
system, such as certain techniques of plant propagation and composting.
All of these topics are of the same thread, however, and in discussing
one aspect of the system, principles will be established which pertain
Definition of the System
There are two reasons why I use the word "system".
First, the French Intensive System is comprised of a series of interde-
pendent techniques that are followed through each phase of the propaga-
tion, growth, and harvest of the crops. Take, for example, the way in
which carrots are grown. We use wide, raised beds. The seeds are broad-
cast across the surface of the bed. If the gardener is skillful, he
achieves a uniformity in the spacing of his plants which, in fact, many
people would consider to be too dense. The gardener sows them this way
intentionally because he is trying to create a particular combination
of effects, upon which I will elaborate later, and because he will har-
vest the roots in a fashion already determined before the seeds are sown.
As the carrots begin to reach maturity, the gardener begins to pull the
biggest of the roots from throughout the bed. This leaves room for
smaller plants that may have been slightly crowded, up to that point,
to develop to larger size. This extends the life of the harvest from
the bed and increases the total yield of carrots. Each of the steps
used in the technique follows logically from the preceding step, all of
the steps being inspired by the cultural requirements of the plants
Second, I believe there are relationships (biologically speaking) among
all the live organisms in a French Intensive Garden that resemble in
some important ways the relationships existing among the living creatures
in an environment not altered by man -- what I will call the "natural
world". All forms of cultivation are to a degree unnatural. When the
earth is dug, there is an interruption and degradation of the conditions
established by nature over time. But the French Intensive System garden
mimics nature's building processes much better than the other methods
with which I am familiar. Certain balances reestablish themselves in
the garden after a time. This idea carries its greatest force for me
when I think about the techniques employed specifically for pest and dis-
ease control. A garden is not a natural ecosystem, but a balance which
is reminiscent of the balances achieved in the natural world. This is
achieved when the French Intensive System is well executed. To borrow
a phrase from Richard Merrill, the method aims at producing a well-
balanced garden ecosystem.
The French Intensive System is not an entirely new technology. It did
not separate itself fully developed from Mr. Chadwick's brow in one magic
moment, as Athena sprang from Zeus. It has definite historical and philo-
sophical antecedents based upon sound traditional practices and philso-
sophical perspectives of human limits. An understanding of some of this
will aid in knowing what the system is about.
The first source is the British horticultural tradition. Gardening has
long been considered a craft and, like most of the handcrafts we know to-
day, it has undergone a long, experimental development with only those
techniques persisting that have stood the test of time. By the beginning
of the 20th century, horticultural practice in Europe, especially in
Britain, had reached a highly developed professional state. I am not
familiar with horticultural development in the Orient but, judging by
the fame and accomplishment of Chinese and Japanese gardeners similar
successes must have been achieved.
Sound, thorough practices for the care and cultivation of plants existed.
Not only could vegetables and some fruits be produced to satisfy urban
needs in much of Europe, even during the coldest months of winter, but
also these needs were satisfied employing technology and resources that
today would be considered inadequate. Growers were able to do almost
everything we do today and with considerable success. It might even be
argued that because they had fewer technological tricks, they had to be
better growers than we are today. This highly developed, highly pro-
fessional tradition is very much in evidence in the French Intensive
System. The tools used, the digging techniques, and particularly cer-
tain ways of handling the propagation of plants seem to have their basis
in this horticultural tradition.
A second historical source for the system comes from France. Around the
larger urban centers, particularly before the first World War but still
carried on in a modified fashion today, a method of food production
called by one author "French Market Gardening" was practiced. This was
a truly intensive system employing huge quantities of fresh and com-
posted manure, glass cold frames, and cloches, and producing up to eight
different crops of high quality vegetables with very large yields on a
single plot or bed within a calendar year. These sophisticated and hard
working gardeners grew their crops through the coldest parts of the win-
ter as well as through the hottest parts of the summer. This was done
without natural gas heated greenhouses, chemical fertilizers, modern
pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides. The system that Mr. Chadwick in-
troduced is not as intensive. It makes use of much less manure and glass
and does not produce as many crops. Nevertheless, his system has a root
in this intensive, traditional practice.
The French Intensive System also has philosophical and technical sources
that are more modern. Two men are important to mention. One is Sir Al-
bert Howard who had a great deal of influence in England and America
with his teachings about the value of organic farming and of naturally
grown foods. The other was Rudolf Steiner, father of bio-dynamic agri-
Sir Albert performed most of his research in tropical India. After some
initial experience with the use of the then new and untried chemical fer-
tilizers, he became dissatisfied with them and turned to the use of manures
and composts. His results were far better, and he became convinced of the
efficiency of organic methods. He wrote several books on his beliefs
and was a source of inspiration to, among others, J. I. Rodale, the founder
of Rodale Press and Publications.
Rudolf Steiner is more difficult to discuss. In 1924 he gave a series
of lectures on agriculture to a group of his followers at a large estate
in what is now East Germany. He extended Goethe's principle of the inter-
relatedness of all phenomenon (an early formation of the ecosystem concept)
to agriculture. He called for the development of truly independent and
self-sufficient farms, saying that each farm should look on itself as an
organism and that the whole of the farm's operation (like an organism)
would be somehow greater than the sum of its parts. He also claimed
that the growth of plants was affected by many subtle influences as
well as the most obvious environmental ones. Steiner advocated the use
of special compost additives and field sprays derived from particular
plants and minerals to promote the health and fertility of the farm.
To Steiner's credit, biodynamic farming has become, on the basis of suc-
cessful practice, a worldwide phenomenon. It is most extensively prac-
ticed in Europe. To be a member of the Bio-Dynamic Agricultural Associ-
ation in Europe, a farmer must use the practices described by Steiner
and may not import more than 10% of his feed or fertilizing materials.
I am talking about farmers who are commercially successful; some of them
have followed these practices for over 40 years. These farmers obtain
yields comparable to farmers using standard methods and export enough
to survive in the competitive market.
Mr. Chadwick has tried to reinterpret Steiner's ideas on the scale of
a garden. In discussing some of the sources of the French Intensive
System, I do not intend to minimize the original role Mr. Chadwick has
played in the creation of the system. I believe that the greatest orig-
inality lies in understanding, in a new and deeper way, the value of
what we already have available in techniques and materials and in making
new combinations out of these. Each gardener who practices this system
must, in a sense, re-create it for himself, learning the techniques and
grasping the insights just as Mr. Chadwick has done. In discussing the
origins of the system, I have tried to describe the highly developed
horticultural traditions drawn upon to supply the basic techniques that
went into the synthesis of the French Intensive System.
I would like to go on now and talk more specifically about some of the
technical aspects of the French Intensive System.
There are a lot of organic gardeners who make use of composts, manures,
and other organic amendments, as we do in the French Intensive System.
The quantities of such substances used in this system are probably, for
the most part, larger than most organic gardeners are apt to use. But
the yields obtained from the French Intensive garden are larger than
yields from a garden where plants are grown in widely spaced rows. I
tend to think that less is lost of the valuable effects of these organic
amendments with regard to their long-term and short-term influences on
plant growth. Manures and composts are at times used in special ways in
the French Intensive System, but these are refinements and not basic to
Fertility is thought of in a different way. I have often talked to or-
nic farmers who evaluate their use of manure by its "actual" nitrogen
N), phosphorus (P), or potassium (K) content. If they need 150 pounds
of nitrogen for a crop, they buy a quantity of manure that, by analysis,
gives them that much nitrogen. This is not the way fertility is thought
of in the French Intensive System. A qualitative approach is taken.
Instead of thinking in terms of quantities of N, P, and K, biological
processes are considered. We ask
--What will be needed to create the appropriate soil condition for this
crop? (Such as good structure, improved water holding capacity?)
--What will stimulate the soil's life?
--What microorganisms will help the plant to grow? (The life from which
comes the life of the plant.)
--How do we improve the life processes in the soil that are crucial to
the availability of the nutrients present in the organic materials
we have applied?
-How do we help release the abundant minerals already in the soil
This kind of fertility, which looks at plant nutrition as a dynamic
biological process rather than a routine chemical one, has been suc-
cessful in producing high-quality crops at Santa Cruz for nine years.
This experience is also shared in bio-dynamic agriculture. Bio-dynamic
farms in Europe, where fewer organic materials are returned to the soil
per acre than in the French Intensive System, have remained fertile and
productive for much longer periods. From practical experience, it seems
that when well performed the combination of practices that constitute
the system maximize the efficiency of all the resources. There is a syn-
ergistic effect that cannot be explained by an input-output way of
Though I think it is a more common practice in Europe, most gardening
books in this country rarely mention deep cultivation in their descrip-
tions of techniques. Usually instructions on how to garden assume peo-
ple do not want to work very hard and just urge that people make sure
the surface soil is loose. The French Intensive System relies on good
soil drainage. In many cases deep cultivation is the only way to ensure
that the soil will drain well. There are other critical advantages that
come from deep cultivation. If the soil is loose to a greater depth,
much more soil is accessible to the sometimes timid roots of our food
plants. Gas is exchanged rapidly between the atmosphere and the soil
and air penetrates deeper into the soil increasing the depth of biologi-
Raising the soil above ground level (which is achieved through digging
techniques) enhances all these dynamic biological processes still fur-
ther, especially when compared to level or flat rows of crops. For the
same reason the beds tend to be warmer than the surrounding soil.
Raised beds can only be successfully prepared by handwork (human labor
is a tremendous asset in the system). Machines like Rototillers are
incapable of reaching the depth desired or creating the wide raised
beds used in the system. Human sensitivity to the very localized, spe-
cific conditions of the soil is brought to bear by the gardener with
each spadeful of soil he moves.
Water application in most gardens is furrow type, although sometimes
sprinkler type. Often the soil is allowed to dry out to, or close to,
the permanent wilting stage before water is again applied. Irrigations
tend to be infrequent and deep. The surface is often dried out by the
time water is next applied. Gardeners who use the French Intensive Sys-
tem are very concerned about the upper portions of the soil. They water
frequently enough to keep that level as well as the deeper ones close to
field capacity (the optimum amount of moisture for plant growth). When
the soil moisture is close to field capacity, it ensures not only the
steady uniform growth on the part of the plant, but also that the plant
will be more efficient at getting water from the soil.
The surface soil, where gas exchange is greatest, remains an area where
roots can exist without the normal interruption of growth due to drying
out. The surface soil remains friable and open to allow water penetra-
tion. There are other benefits as well. I have read that the break-
down of organic matter is slower in soil with constant soil moisture
than in a soil withfluctuations in moisture.
The closer spacing of plants in the French Intensive System helps to
make for efficiency in water use as well as for conservation of land.
Little water evaporates from the land if it is properly applied because
the plants themselves shade the surface of the bed, protecting it from
the drying effects of both sun and wind. Efficiency of water use can
also be achieved to a degree by using mulches. However, there are some
difficulties associated with the use of mulches and it is not possible to
use them in a wide bed where seed is broadcast.
The French Intensive System places plants closer together than other
methods (some people think too close). Our goal, however, is not the
biggest rutabaga on the block, but the best one to eat. Very often
this means a smaller rather than a larger rutabaga. There are advan-
tages to the close spacing of crops in addition to the protection it
provides for the moisture of the soil in which the crops grow and in
addition to the large yields it produces.
Competition can be mutually beneficial when it is carefully guided.
What we have here is a kind of free enterprise system among the vegeta-
bles. They race each other for light and other desirable things. And,
in the process, they grow faster than they would if they had plenty of
space. After an initial weeding and thinning, they also outrace the
weeds by shading the bed, thus keeping the weeds from germinating.
Another remarkable thing happens as a consequence of close spacing; the
vegetables help to create a microclimate for themselves, trapping air
underneath their leaves. This trapped air is not only more humid than
the air above the leaves (again minimizing water loss from the plants),
but also more consistent or stable in temperature than the air above the
tops of the plants. It tends to be cooler on hot days and warmer on
Of course crops can be oversown. It takes practice to broadcast seed
correctly. It is up to the gardener to carefully limit the degree of
free enterprise among his vegetables. It is also important to note
that some crops (tomatoes for instance) do not take to overcrowding no
matter how consoling you are to them. But the system works exquisitely
for the crops that can adapt to it.
Pest control techniques are in some ways similar in both standard or-
ganic gardening techniques and in the French Intensive System. Hand
collection and trapping, good garden sanitation, crop rotation to break
the life cycle of the pests involved, and, above all, attention to the
nutritional status of the plant are practices common to all good gar-
deners who care about the natural environment and who do not wish to
handle toxic materials. Further steps are taken in the French Intensive
System where the garden is laid out in such a way as to mix in a bene-
ficial manner different types of plants, shrubs, and trees.
We often think of what a plant takes away from the soil, the garden,
etc., but we do not often think of what a plant contributes to the place
where it lives. Each plant, shrub, or tree has a unique relationship
to the garden in which it is placed. In cooperation with the micro-
organisms present in the soil, each plant helps to create conditions
for growth appropriate to itself. I am talking about the rhizosphere,
an area just surrounding the roots themselves. Plants vary in the con-
tribution they make to the environment around them. The roots of some
plants grow deeper than others. Some are more fibrous. Some taprooted.
The leaves of different plants have different odors. Some are particu-
larly pungent, others are mild. Some plants have toxic (allelopathic)
excretions. It is a fact that the plants influence the environment around
them through ~eir varying and unique characteristics. Besides affecting
one another, they also influence insects, birds, soil life, and people
The term "Companion Planting" has been used as a catchall to refer to
the diverse and sometimes mysterious influences plants have upon what
lives around them. The gardener tries to orchestrate these influences
to the best of his knowledge and sensitivity. Translated, this means
plants (including certain weeds) are often specifically employed to help
create an atmosphere that promotes the growth of healthy, disease-free,
and pest-free plants for maximum food production. These pest control
practices are efficacious. I've observed visitors who walked into a
garden where these practices were being followed and who were struck by
something intangible: "It feels like a place where plants must grow
well." This feeling is not mere imagination. It is derived from a
real phenomenon -- a garden with an atmosphere of lush healthy growth
-- a growing environment created by the gardener.
The French Intensive System has certain important characteristics.
1. It is an organic system of cultivation, relying upon manures, com-
posts, and other amendments as sources of nutrients, and viewing
them as a means of qualitatively improving the life of the soil.
2. The soil is worked deeply and carefully and the beds are raised.
These practices promote rapid drainage of excess water, good aera-
tion, and soil warmth.
3. Watering is done frequently; the soil is not allowed to dry out too
much. An ample supply of moisture is kept throughout the root zone
with special emphasis on the surface area.
4. Spacing of crops is used to promote quick and even growth by creating
a small, relatively stable microclimate under the leaves. The close-
ness of the plants also reduces weeds as well as increasing yield/
5. The garden is thought of as a whole. An environment is created
where life is abundant and crops thrive. Diverse plants are used
in specific ways to help achieve this end.
6. The parts of the system operate together to create a dynamic effect
which exceeds the sum of the parts and gives to the system its ad-
vantage of yields and soil maintenance.
In conclusion, I believe that the French Intensive System is an exam-
ple of human resourcefulness applied to an old problem -- how to feed
ourselves. It is a system of food production that functions on a small
scale, requiring minimum resources for the production of plants.
The System's roots go back to well-developed, highly sophisticated
horticultural traditions. It embodies a belief in the ability of human
beings to rely thoroughly on an approach to cultivation which is more
biologically oriented than has been popular in this century. Finally,
it is a humanistic approach to cultivation which implies that people
will be able to live and be prosperous within ecological limits.
QUANTITATIVE RESEARCH ON THE FRENCH INTENSIVE/BIODYNAMIC METHOD
Five years ago, Ecology Action of the Midpeninsula in Palo, Alto, Cali-
fornia, began tests on the French Intensive/Biodynamic Method. We are
a small, non-profit, environmental, educational, and research organiza-
tion. We operate a 1/6 acre research site in conjunction with a commu-
nity garden on land donated by the Syntex Corporation in the Stanford
Our purpose in 1972 was to try to document and publish the basic elements
involved in "The Method" and to determine if its yields were as high as
reported. Questions we were also interested in were:
1) Could a farm using these techniques be cost-effective and cost-
competitive in relation to commercial agricultural techniques?
2) What would resource consumption levels be?
3) What are the smallest amounts of time required to produce a complete
balanced diet and a reasonable annual net income?
Three important reference points guide our research work.
1. We are looking for an environmentally sound, sustainable form of
small scale personal agriculture.
2. We stay as close as possible to Alan Chadwick's techniques and ap-
proach, and especially to the reverence for the earth, fertility,
plants, and humans embodied in his approach.
3. We try to keep the understanding of the Method's techniques as sim-
ple as possible so that many people can readily assimilate the ap-
proach. Our orientation is toward low technology, not intermediate.
It is this simplicity that distinguishes our approach, at least tempo-
rarily, from that of the Covelo Project. For example, we grow all crops
in growing beds prepared and cared for in essentially the same manner
as the French, whereas Alan prepares different kinds of beds for differ-
ent kinds of crops. His is a horticultural approach of the highest order.
The approach we have evolved is a more rustic form we call miniagriculture.
We feel that miniagriculture is a simple and easily understood place to
begin the Method and from it one can graduate to the more sophisticated
levels. Many people around the United States and some located overseas
have had good experiences using the miniagricultural approach. (Over
32,000 copies of our manual are in circulation.)
I believe that Ecology Action has made a unique contribution by viewing
agricultural production from the twin vantages of one individual and the
smallest number of inputs (land, water, capital, tools, fertilizer, time,
etc.) needed to produce all his food or income.
Many years ago I was interested in becoming a farmer, but I could not
find information on the smallest area needed to provide food and income
for our family in the easiest way and in the shortest time. The informa-
tion did not exist. Even now the United States Congress is thinking
about providing loans of up to $300,000 to small farmers so they can af-
ford to start out. Ecology Action's preliminary research since 1972
indicates the initial capital requirement could be much lower.
Considerthe fact that in 2005, 30 years from now, the world will proba-
bly have a population of eight billion people, double that of today.
This doubling will generally mean the average per capital resources will
be cut in half. In the case of many non-renewable resources, the cuts
will be even larger. In some cases the crunch will come sooner than
30 years. The United States and the world have approximately a nine year
supply of natural gas. (Using natural gas is the most efficient way of
making synthetic nitrogen fertilizer.) Thus low capital investment,
resource-conserving, high-yield forms of miniagriculture will become in-
creasingly important, especially for the developing countries of the
What have been the results of our five years of preliminary tests and
1. Our vegetable yields have been 2 to 16 times the United States
national average (2-16X). Since good U.S. farmers get generally
double the national average, our yields are significant. Some
tomatoes more than 2 X (this figure should go much higher)
cucumbers 9 X
bibb lettuce 5.6X
I expect the ultimate overall average for vegetables and soft fruits
to be 8 times the U.S. averages and more than 12 times the world
2. Grain testing has also begun. Soybeans which yielded 0.25X in 1973
and 0.91X in 1974 increased to 2-1/4Z in 1975. This yield (57.3
bu/acre or 3858 kg/ha) is a significant yield for soybeans, espe-
cially for novice minifarmers. In contrast, in the best recent
U.S. soybean year (1973), the two best yielding counties in the best
yielding state (Iowa) averaged 40 to 41 bu/acre. A 60 bu yield is
the goal for the U.S. farmer, but to date it has been infrequently
I should note, however, that one experimental test station, I be-
lieve in Kansas, got a 98 bu yield in 1975 using special hybrid
seeds and special fertilization. I expect grain yields using our
*Editor's Note: During the discussion of this paper there was some con-
cern about the expression of yields in terms of national or world aver-
ages. Yields are highly dependent upon climatic conditions, and the cli-
mate at Palo Alto cannot be considered to be an "average" climate.
There is less objection to comparison with a county average if the county
is selected to present either a comparable climate, the best commercial
production, or some other pertinent situation.
method to eventually average 4 to 6X the U.S. average or 14.5X the
world average. We may even go as high as 167 bu/acre.
Our highest yield to date for hard red wheat has been twice the
U.S. average. With this yield increase has come an increase in
the protein content from 14.8 to 15.7%.
A good question here is: Are the results from our approximately 114
sq ft test plots replicable on a larger scale? From my experience with
the Method and from observing Alan Chadwick's horticultural garden re-
sults, I believe they are. I should also mention that the yields I
project are already frequently being achieved in some country or major
geographical area in the world. In most of these cases, the soil has
not been as well prepared.
Next is the question: How many square feet are necessary to grow the
foods needed for a complete and balanced diet? Robin Leler and I have
developed a milk-supplemented, complete, balanced vegetable diet that
meets both the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowances (RDA) and the United
Ndions dietary standards. (In many instances the diet provides much
more than these standards. We developed this diet because we could
not find any essentially vegetarian diet that met the RDA standards
on the one hand and did not call for consumption of enormous quantities
of food on the other.) We can grow this 2379 cal diet (which includes
the proportional amount of fodder for the cow or goat that supplies
the milk) in a four to six month growing season on about 7000 sq ft or
about 1/12 ha. (This assumes yields two times the U.S. national average.)
If the o#imal yield predictions are reached, this same diet could be
grown on 2500 sq ft or about 1/30 ha. These figures of 7000 and 2500
sq ft compare with the 4842 sq ft required to grow a diet of similar
caloric value using average U.S. agricultural practices, and the 32,280
sq ft using Indian practices. Meat-supplemented diets grown with the
Method will also require much less square footage.
What is the major reason for these increased yields? At first we thought
the French Intensive/Biodynamic Method would increase yields only four
times. The 24 in deep soil preparation allows close spacing and usually
four times the number of plants will fit in a given area. However, when
our zucchini yield topped 16X the Santa Clara County average in 1974 (up
from 5.5X in 1972) we began to examine the process. Recently we learned
of studies performed about 1950 at the University of California at Berke-
ley (which later received worldwide support) that showed overall root
health in agricultural soils has not improved significantly but rather
has usually declined. Thus the study showed that even a 2 to 4% increase
in plant health could result in 200 to 400% increases in yields.
The Method's soil preparation process appears to make such an improve-
ment possible by optimally texturing, aerating, fertilizing, and watering
the soil. In one control test performed by Ecology Action, the average
broccoli plant grown in 24 in deep prepared soil weighed 2.5X those grown
in 12 in deep prepared soil. If you combine an average four times the
plants per unit of area with two to four fold increases in yield made
possible by increased root health, you have a 16X yield potential with
What amount of resources have been consumed to obtain these yields?
In comparison with Santa Clara County, California, 1/2 to 1/8 the water
and 1/100 the energy in vegetable production per pound of food produced
was consumed. For nitrogen fertilizer it was 1/2 to 1/16. The decreases
in fertilizer and water have been due mainly to increases in yield; in
other words, as yields increase, input consumption per unit of food de-
creases. This energy consumption level applies to grains as well as to
What has made these resource savings possible? The nitrogen fertilizer
saving is due apparently to the slower release of organic nitrogen fer-
tilizers and the increased density of root systems, both of which allow
for more efficient use of fertilizers.
The water saving is due to several factors.
Research by academic institutions has shown that soil that has active
organic matter as 2% of its volume requires only 1/4 the rainfall or
irrigation required by poor soils (soils with about 1/2% active organic
matter). The amount of compost used by the French Intensive/Biodynamic
Method provides this.
Even under arid conditions, soil which is shaded can decrease water
evaporation by as much as 13 to 63%, depending on soil type. The Method's
miniclimate roof of closely spaced leaves provides this shade.
Transpiration of water through the plant can be reduced by 10 to 75%
in soils which contain large amounts of nutriments in the soil water.
The Method prepares the soil in a manner that produces a high level of
We have documented, roughly but I feel accurately, the energy saving in
calories expended at all stages of the production process vs the amount
of calories produced in the form of food. We have not yet developed a
systematic way to explain why less energy is used. Partly, it is due
to the great efficiency of our own muscles. Each of us as human beings
uses an energy equivalent of 33 gal of gasoline per year at home and at
work. The average U.S. black and white television set (tube type) con-
sumes 10 gal of gasoline per year.
We do not yet have enough experience to indicatehowmuch less water and
fertilizer will be required in grain production. I do not believe that
the savings will be as great, but they should be significant and should
parallel the vegetable pattern.
Two things should be mentioned here. First, the Method as currently
practiced by Ecology Action does use double the water per unit area for
the production of vegetables. It is the 4-16X yields that makes the
water consumption 1/2 to 1/8 per pound of food produced. However, I do
think it possible that our water consumption will decrease further, per-
haps by 1/2 to 1/4 the amount currently being used per unit area.
Second, though a developing nation or area without irrigation may have
only 1/4 the water per unit area that Ecology Action is using, my guess
is that the yields, while not 4 times the U.S. average, will be at least
4 times the yields previously obtained in that area. Tests performed in
the arid parts of the U.S. lead me to this conclusion. The main reason
for the yield increase is the improvement in efficiency of utilization
Many people have asked if the Method or a modification of it will work
in all climates and soils. It is my belief, after five years of study
and field work, that it will. For arid areas, there is the experience
of the Zulus in South Africa. They prepare growing beds 36 in deep and
are able to grow crops in the rainless summers when no one else can.
For hot, humid areas, the director of Oxfam in England has written us
explaining his belief, derived from experience, that the French Intensive/
Biodynamic Method will work well due to its improved drainage character-
istics. A field worker with International Voluntary Service (IVS), cur-
rently in Bangladesh, has told me the same thing from his experience in
As for soils, Peter Tonge, a long-time garden and food production writer
for the Christian Science Monitor, has told us that the Method worked
well in his sandy soil in Massachusetts -- something he did not expect.
Lateritic soils (which constitute only about 7% of the arable world
land) will probably require some significant modification of the Method;
but I think Compostingin the Tropics, by the Henry Doubleday Association
in England, may contain some of the keys to the solution of the problem.
One potential problem is in the way we have been practicing the French
Intensive/Biodynamic Method. We have been using 3 to 12 times more or-
ganic matter than can be sustained on a "closed system" basis (crop res-
idues, simple cover-cropping, and animal manures). We have used about
300 lb (dry weight) of organic matter per 100 sq ft. It may be that
only 25 to 100 lb of organic matter can be easily produced annually.
Both cylindra beets and comfrey can produce incredible amounts of organic
matter, but they require land resources and part or all of the growing
season to grow in large amounts.
We soon hope to test whether the French Intensive/Biodynamic Method's
high yields and reduced resource consumption will also occur when only
easily sustainable organic matter amounts are used. From the little in-
formation we have been able to obtain about Chinese intensive agriculture,
it appears that substantially higher yields can be possible. But how
high these yields willbe is still unclear.
Lastly, it should be noted that the number of people required to grow
the 7000 sq ft minifarming diet mentioned earlier could be about 18% of
a population, well below the 51% of people currently in the world's agri-
cultural work force. If the highest expected yields are reached, the
2500 sq ft diet could be produced by 6% of a country's population. This
compares with the 2 to 4% of the U.S. population now directly engaged in
field agriculture, and with the 10% of the U.S. population engaged in
other agricultural areas (including transportation, packaging, and mar-
keting). These figures, arrived at by time studies, assume skilled
practitioners and a developed healthy soil system in ecological balance.
They also assume a good supply of water. If only 1/2 the water we are
using (about 6 acre in per month in the warm season and 3 acre in or less
in cooler weather) were available, say 18 in in the soil or through rain-
fall, then only 14,000 sq ft would be required to grow a complete diet
with non-optimal yields and 5000 sq ft for a complete diet with optimal
yields. Thus 6 and 16 people could be fed respectively per acre with an
agricultural population of 36% and 12% respectively. (I should also men-
tion for reference that about 6000 lb of wheat was recently grown in
Arizona on an acre with 24 in of water. This is significant.)
The figures for complete diet production assume that the simplified form
of the French Intensive/Biodynamic Method is being used. But you can
see that not many people may be required for food production. The Method
really can be more skill intensive than labor intensive. Since so few
people may be needed for food alone, two or three times as many people
can participate to produce the additional horticultural beauty and spirit
seen in the Covelo project. I believe that with intensive agriculture,
developing nations can expect to obtain their nutritional needs from a
small space, that is more consistent with quality work and tender loving
care. At the same time the nation would be consuming less resources as
well as creating an artistic habitat.
There are four essential time factors to make all the preceding figures
One can "learn" the miniagriculture techniques of the French Intensive/
Biodynamic Method in about a week. However, a 6 to 12 month apprentice-
ship is highly desirable. And 2 to 3 years are required to become truly
competent. This is not surprising. Farming techniques have been passed
on from parent to child through year-round apprenticeship. Or they have
been learned through four years of agricultural college, plus several
years of on the job experience. We cannot produce "jack-in-the-box"
"90-day" wonders. I am glad.
Another reason why a substantial learning time is needed is that the
techniques, especially the back-to-the-source problem-solving approaches
of the organic farmer, often vary from the approach of the standard com-
mercial farmer.by 1800. (Additionally, if you are using the French
Intensive/Biodynamic Method, you must often re-orient your thinking
This need for adaptability was demonstrated when one of our staff thought
a tomato bed had nematodes. All the outward signs were there and the
staff began to act accordingly, following commercial practice. We found
the problem was due to a "dry pan" which was choking off the root water
supply about 8 in down. This in turn was due to poor soil preparation
and watering. (I believe most insect and disease problems can be traced
to and ameliorated by the type of cultural practices used, and recent
research is tending to substantiate this.)
Time to improve the soil
A 2 to 5 year period of soil improvement may be required before the pro-
jections mentioned here become a reality. This year we have worked
with a new rapid soil improvement process that may shorten this period,
but it is too early to tell.
Time to train skilled practitioners
There are very few skilled practitioners of this age-old technique.
Although it traces back to the Chinese 3000 years ago, it is virtually
new to us. Covelo, Santa Cruz, and Santa Barbara are beginning to meet
the need for practitioners, but it will take time to train adequate num-
Time for adaptation
There are cultural, economic, political, climatic, and soil factors in-
digenous to each location. Time will be required in each to reach a
solid synthesis geared to the specific area or region. No doubt train-
ing, education, and research should be performed regionally.
What then remains to be done?
I believe that our five years of preliminary research indicates that ten
more years of similar and expanded work are warranted and should be per-
formed. Modifications of the Method will be necessary, but I would like
to see a spirit of "how can we do it?" or "can we do it?" rather than
"it cannot be done". We still do not know the optimal spacings for
grains. A change from 1 to 2 in centers doubled our yields. Tests in
1976 indicate fodder yields should be much higher; for example, 2-4X or
more for alfalfa. I expect 2 to 3X yields with fruit trees. We have
just planted some.
We would like to see the development of a watering tool specially designed
for the Method which could improve watering, making it easier, faster,
and more like the light rain desired. We would also like to see the de-
velopment of minigreenhouse systems that would be modular and would have
replaceable panels. They could then become minilathhouses or mininetting
houses as the situation demands. We also need low-cost, efficient mini-
More importantly, research and development centers which are strong in
miniagriculture are needed to provide in-depth information and serve as
a backup for basic training programs.
I would like to see 6 to 12 month training programs that in the process
of imparting the technique, would teach an individual how to grow, harvest,
and store a complete diet. The self-confidence developed in an individual
who knows that he or she is competent in both technique and self-sufficiency
would be invaluable and would serve as a building block for overseas programs.
SITE VISIT TO THE MESA PROJECT,
A DEMONSTRATION AND TRAINING FACILITY
Paul Relis and Warren Pierce
The Mesa Project and the site here are the evolution of five years of work
of the Community Environmental Council (CEC) in developing planning con-
cepts which attempt to integrate agriculture and the uses of solar energy,
and to formulate the concept we call Urban Village as a test for prototypes
of urban redevelopment and village redevelopment. I'll explain some of
the background so that you will have an idea of what this concept is and
how it relates to your interests in Santa Barbara. The CEC was started
five years ago as an environmental organization focusing on the usual
concerns -- environmental abuse and degradation. But very early on, due
to the presence of Warren Pierce and Richard Merrill, the emphasis of our
work was on agriculture, specially on a gardening level and specifically
as it related to the urban issue.
We started with a small garden in downtown Santa Barbara in 1970 and
moved a year and a half later to a 4.6 acre site in which we conducted
various experiments and demonstrations related to the school system,
where we had John Fry and an engineer on our staff working on solar en-
ergy. Warren conducted agricultural demonstrations and test plots to de-
termine both the productivity, yield, and sustainability of this small
scale agricultural technique, similar to what is being done at the Uni-
versity of California at Santa Cruz and at Covelo. We were solely inter-
ested in the focus on urban gardens.
We never really thought of how this work might relate to developing coun-
tries until Dennis Karzag thought that small scale agriculture had an
important role to play in Direct Relief Foundation (DRF) programs. Based
upon mail responses, doctors in the field indicated that one of the chief
problems with which they were confronted was that their medicine was not
working when people were not eating. So with the cooperation of Warren
and the director of DRF, we offered an intensive course to a very limited
number of students who would go into the field to see how they could apply
their new knowledge.
Jan Gallagher was one of those students who took the two month course
from Warren. She was already established near Guayaquil, Ecuador.
Through her Peace Corps experience she was fluent in Spanish and knew the
culture, so it was not like starting from scratch. She went to Guayaquil
and conducted the work that was described in the DRF report, and to which
she will speak later.
Since that time, we have conducted two more courses. Right now we have
nine students who are going through a program in intensive Spanish and
horticulture in preparation for other assignments. We sent four students
to Guatemala a month ago, another student to Ecuador to work with Jan,
and other sites are being explored.
This program is very much in the formative stage. What we are trying to
do is achieve a balance of lectures, which Warren conducts daily, and
field work. We emphasize the cultural aspects of the approach and have
invited speakers from the University and City College and from other
parts of California to speak to the students.
We are now beginning to place students in the field, and our first major
task is to find out how our students will fare in the Guatemala project.
It is a pioneering tropical settlement, owned by the Indians and conducted
under the auspices of a Father Woods. It is a remote site where the In-
dians have been for nine years, and the attempt there is not to make a
difference between whether people starve or have adequate food because
they do have adequate food. The question is whether the methods that
can be established and taught here can lead to better reforestation and
to a more ecological agriculture approach sustainable with the resources
Some of the other assignments will attempt to go into more fundamental
problems where food is an absolute scarcity. I do not know where or
when we are going to place the additional students at this time.
At this site the CEC is testing the urban village concept which will in-
tegrate the agricultural part with housing and passive solar heating
systems (with which we have a fair amount of practical experience in
the Santa Barbara area). We also get into complete waste recycling
systems and work with the University of California Santa Barbara Sociol-
ogy Department to evaluate the degree to which these various planning
elements can be fused as a basis for urban reconstruction strategies.
So you have, essentially, two major thrusts to the Mesa Project--demon-
stration and training. After the discussion, Warren will take the group
on a tour. Specific questions you might have concerning the garden can
be directed to him. Let us now entertain questions.
Q. Where do these students come from?
A. Initially they were from California.
Q. Are they from an institution?
A. Some have been in agricultural schools, such as California Polytechnic
and the University of California Davis. Some have completed degrees
and others have not completed degrees. The emphasis of our recruit-
ment is on students who have backgrounds in biology or agriculture or
the basic sciences so that those subjects are out of the way, so to
speak. Warren taught at the university and is not accustomed to
starting with the basics. It takes too much time for this particular
program to get people to be ready in five months if they have no back-
Q. I heard the term "student" used and I was trying to get a feel of
where you draw them from and what they usually do after they leave?
A. After they leave here they are supposed to receive an assignment,
depending on whether we are satisfied with them and if they feel pre-
pared enough to go, as was the case with the four students who went
to Guatemala. So the program is geared to students going into the
field to work on a project rather than coming here, spending five
months to a year, and then wondering what they're going to do. Our
aim is to place students in projects.
Q. Do some of them return as Peace Corps volunteers?
A. Jan Gallagher is one such person, but she was formerly with the
Q. During your five or six months' training, do you incorporate communi-
cations into the education and economics with instructions in how to
utilize these factors in your group?
A. That is something we are working on. In the initial stages of the
project, we were not equipped to do that. We were strictly into the
agricultural part. Our initial emphasis has been on growing plants
and preparing the students in that way. All of the work is documented
at the El Mirasol Polyculture Farm project. Warren had five plots
established in the last year of the project that attempted to discuss
this issue of manpower, planning, concepts, energy (in terms of water),
physical time in preparing beds and yields, along with the various com-
posting and other methods used.
Q. There is quite a difference between your students and the Indians.
The students, who have agricultural, biology backgrounds and/or uni-
versity training, receive a five month course. Then they go to a
place like Guatemala to communicate with a community of Indians who
have had no more than a third grade education. What do you do to pre-
pare these people so that they can effectively communicate these tech-
niques and these methods? Are you preparing them with graphics and
visuals? Do you have a Step 1, 2, 3, detailed outline of the process?
A. Initially the emphasis has been on the physical development of projects
such as the Mesa Project, or wherever we send students. We do not get
into a major community outreach when we first go to a site. Actually
we are trying to establish beachheads to sites where there is a long-
term relationship with the DRF. In other words, they have been send-
ing medical supplies to specific sites for over 20 years. So the
nature of the program has been to maintain contact and to receive a
response from areas that appeared most suitable in terms of receptivity
to the small scale agriculture approach. The student goes to a site
where there is already an established contact and builds a garden
project at that site. Beyond that we have prepared a procedures man-
ual on the agricultural component and a health resource manual. In
short, the program depends heavily upon the observations of people
who have been in the field.
Q. Is there feedback from the local people as to the effectiveness of this
A. We are not that far along yet, although we have had some favorable
response from Jan Gallagher.
Q. How much does it cost to train a student at the Mesa Project, and
how are the funds obtained?
A. We have set up a tuition of $250 for a five month semester, beginning
in February 1977, when our second semester begins.
Q. Where do the students live?
A. The students live in town. We do not support the students while they
are here. What we have done so far is to help them try to find hous-
ing and part-time work. But it is up to them to work it out.
Q. How many students have you trained?
A. Approximately 16.
Q. Does $250 cover all of the cost?
A. No. The program has been supported partly from a U.S. Agency for In-
ternational Development (US AID) grant to DRF.
Q. How much does it cost to train 16 students?
A. About $3000 for one student. That includes a year's stipend in the
field and round trip transportation. It is not strictly the cost
of training here.
Q. What is the stipend?
A. The stipend is $100 a month or $1200 a year. We allow $200 a year
for transportation and another $200 for various incidentals. We still
have to subsidize the program at about $1500 per student.
Q. Where has the money come from up to now?
A. Primarily from the US AID grant. However, the site was provided by
CEC; the tools and equipment, so far about $1200 worth, have been do-
nated by private organizations, such as Kiwanis. Prior to seeking
major support, we took on this program as a pilot project to see if
the program is applicable.
Let us talk some more about the garden here at the site. It is approxi-
mately six months old. It was an old dairy farm with about 70% very fine
sand and not much topsoil. A seed flat mix is used to start many of our
plants: brassica (broccoli), the lettuce family, celery, parsley, and
flowers. Carrots and other root crops are sown out in the garden itself.
We make the seed flat mix with whatever we have on hand. This one is a
mixture of one-third sifted topsoil, one-third river sand, and one-third
sifted oak leaf mulch.
After the seedlings have grown in the seed flat, we do not throw the seed
flat mix out. It goes into this bin and later is used for coverage when
we are sowing the
of the seedlings,
over a few times.
crops in the garden. If you stockpile it you get rid
and virtually no weeds will come up if you turn it
I usually do not bother doing that myself for various
We are on city water here. It comes through a mountain tunnel and is
fairly hard. On top of that the city adds chlorine to it and chloride
salts cause a lot of damage to the crops. To help this a little we use
water that has settled for a day or so. This is what we call a watering
tool. It has a very delicate spray for the seed flats, as demonstrated
These are four new seed flats, just sown a few days ago; and this is a
lettuce flat, just starting to come up; and this is a brassica flat.
Two weeks from now this broccoli will be lifted out and spread into
another flat. After four weeks that flat will go into one of these beds.
We save the time of occupying the land by using the seed flats. We have
saved on seed and it gets protection. We also save on water and fertil-
Q. Do you have many problems with damping off?
A. A little, but the oak leaf mold apparently has inhibitors against
the water mold. Sometimes we get some petritis with the broccoli.
If that happens we just water underneath and set it out in the sun.
Q. How long do you age the leaf?
A. This pile here is about four months old. It depends on whether you
water it, turn it, and stockpile it, or if you just let it sit in a
dry state and let the rains do it.
This is vegetable waste here. It comes mainly from weeds out of the gar-
den. Weeds are important in building up compost material; consequently,
we do not weed out a lot of things in the garden.
Q. The weeds competing with your major crops do not bother you?
A. There is a certain extreme where the weeds could take over. There
is a selective weeding process. There are other factors that deter-
mine weeding; for example if you have a scorch, you might want taller
weeds to protect the plants from burn. Close planting discourages
weeds. This is one of the benefits of this kind of method.
This is a seed flat preparation right in the ground. If you do not have
a redwood seed flat, you sow them here. You could put a little protec-
tion, netting, over it. If it is a brassica then you spread it out here.
These will be moved; we follow a moon cycle, so during a new moon it is
sowing, then during a full moon, transplanting.
Initially, six months ago, we had 50 lb of radishes, 200 Ib of lettuce,
40 lb of string beans, 20 of melons, 10 of squash, 150 bouquets of
sweet peas, and at the end of all that, 15 cu ft of vegetable waste
went back into the compost pile. Up to now, when the second crop is
about to be harvested, there have been about 30 lb of broccoli already
pulled out of this. If you add all that up, it is about 350 lb of pro-
duce; and if you want to take that out to an acre, it would come to about
25 tons per acre, including the pathways, per six months.
You get a lot of pest problems during the first six months, but after
that the fertility of parasitic wasps helps clean things up. Flowers
are in this garden to be food reservoirs for parasitic wasps. Your
ladybugs and lacewings also need an alternate food source.
Editor's Note: At this point in the site visit, Steve Kaffka joined
Warren Pierce in the preparation of a spinach bed. The conversation be-
gan with Kaffka's comments on digging.
In our garden I have the advantage of knowing what is underneath the
ground. I will do a profile meter by meter to see how the thing lies;
then I can go ahead and dig my beds knowing what is underneath. The
first thing we will do is finish digging this bed, then very quickly
dress it, sow it, and cover it. We have got cover material all ready.
Sometimes weeds or leftover vegetables are taken off at this stage,
and taken directly to the compost. Now I have the trench open, and I
will try to distribute the weeds to get some in every trench. It helps
if you chop them up a bit -- the woodier the material, the more you
should chop it up. I am turning this soil, and I will try it another
way later. It is sometimes helpful to break it up and leave it as rough
as you can, and let the air work on it for a day or two. You dig deep,
and then you are doing some of the work that the roots would have to do,
so they just grow. If you do not want to turn the soil, you can just
flip it up.
Q. Could you use fish?
A. Yes, use what you have. But use it.
We put one application per year on like this. That is all we can afford.
I would like to do more. I think it is more important to use it in the
early stages of the garden than at the end because you are recycling the
We are going to keep this bed as shaded as we can, keep the surface area
full of roots, full of growing parts of the plant. One of the problems
that occur in a windy garden is lack of moisture, so you try to create a
windbreak. (This can be done by growing other taller plants) I do not
want to make you think that we just care about 6 in of soil. We have
done a lot of digging to make sure the plants can get down and they will.
In the watering process several nutrients will go down anyway. I have
not done any soil tests yet.
Q. I heard Warren say he does not use bone meal, is that right?
Q. I use bone meal. There are frequencies that you put it in. This one
will last for a year. There are different ways of doing it. This
will have a reservoir of calcium for a while. Getting back to the
problem of conductivity, alkalinity, etc., you should be able to
tell what is lacking by how the plants are doing.
Q. What is the purpose of bone meal, what do you hope to achieve?
A. For calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium, primarily.
Q. You could not get this from other sources? At a lower price?
A. Possibly, shell flours, such as oyster shell, or rock phosphate.
You should also know that the sowing of spinach, or any plant in the
bed where it is broadcast, is determined by several factors. With spin-
ach I am always tempted to oversow quite heavily; you can always eat
thinnings, and you get spinach in about thirty days. Then you continually
pull plants until you get your appropriate spacing, until the bed is
covered. Then you can make the choice of pulling or thinning the plants
by leaf. Sometimes we sow from our own seed, depending on the plant.
You cannot take seed from hybrid tomato. You can, but it is not a replica
of what you had.
When I am through, these plants should be germinating about three inches
apart evenly. If I have a bare spot somewhere, I will stick several
lettuce plants in to make use of the space. Then I will thin to at
least six inches, then possibly thin again, depending on how well the
spinach is doing. All of the time you are trying to leave the bed as
covered as possible. This time of year is good to grow spinach, because
the day length is right. The rule of thumb about covering is about three
times the width of the seed, in this case about half an inch. If it is
a smaller seed, it would be more shallow.
I am sure there are many more questions but I think it is time for us to
break up now. We will discuss all of this some more later.
EVENING DISCUSSION SESSION
The Monday Evening Discussion Session was organized as an informal par-
ticipant presentation with questions, answers, and comments. The ses-
sion lasted for almost four hours. It seemed as though all the questions
one always wanted to ask about small scale intensive gardening were asked,
and the responses triggered other questions about the specifics of the
subject and related issues of professional concern and pragmatic value.
Questions were raised about the requirements for reaching the most eco-
nomically deprived families in Third World countries with a food produc-
tion system. The general sentiment of the group was that any food pro-
duction system has to be simplified or stripped down to its essential
components. The cost has to be low or virtually nil. Maximum use has
to be made of traditional tools, traditional foods, and locally avail-
able seeds. It was also felt that the introduction of a small scale in-
tensive food production system will take hold only if it is cost effec-
tive. Furthermore, to ensure user receptivity and a spreading of the
method, it will require demonstration, experimental learning, and word
of mouth communication.
Obviously the questions and the myriad of responses generated by the
participants established the importance of this part of the program.
Of particular importance, though, was the sense of collaboration, com-
promise, and commitment that emerged from the group in the Evening Dis-
cussion Session. To approximate that sense of importance and to report
the substance of the group interaction, the following selection of ques-
tions, answers, and comments are presented. For the purpose of clarity
in reporting, the following labeling will be used: Q Question; A -
Answer; and C Comment.
The meeting began with a series of technical questions on companion
planting and the various potentials of certain plants. Steve Kaffka
respondedby stating his experience with the use of flowers and perennial
herbs at Santa Cruz. More importantly, though, he commented on the
French Intensive/Biodynamic Method as a highly refined ecosystem.
C. If you try to translate that into one or many of the kinds of eco-
systems in the Third World, what would that mean? What kind of soil
types would that work with? Would it fall apart piecemeal? When
we came to our location, it was considered the worst piece of soil
in the area. The topsoil was eroded. Yuca and peanuts had not grown
on this piece of soil for 35 years or more. We did not do any dou-
ble digging the first two and a half years, but we did use compost.
We were interested in available resources; we did not use any pesti-
cides herbicides, fertilizers, or chemicals of any kind. We did
take basic soil conservation steps; we used silt pits that we dug
on contour, and we stopped the erosion. Within two years we built
up the soil-and were getting some very good production in terms of
feeding families. We wanted to see what we could do to raise the
nutritional levels in this very isolated area.
Q. Steve, what are the key components of the system in terms of water-
ing and in terms of securing productivity?
A. The two most important seem to be
1) conservation techniques
stabilizing the soil because no matter what kind of soil you
have, if the rains keep washingit away, you have nothing; and
deep incorporation of organic matter and soil.
Q. One of the problems in the tropics is the loss of organic matter
rather rapidly. Are you able to get enough organic matter for these
A. Yes, there is plenty of material available and more constantly being
produced. There is often animal material; also peanut husks and
shells and rice husks.
Q. Did other people in the community pick up on these methods?
A. Yes. Step number one in any kind of program of change is that you
have to demonstrate to the farmers that you know what you are talk-
ing about. That generally takes two or three years, just to get to
that point. In a short time gardens started springing up in the
area. Of course, we helped distribute the seeds. One of the big
problems with these farmers is that they know about collecting and
using seeds for crops with which they are familiar, but when you
bring in crops with which they are not familiar--such as lettuce,
cabbage, and a whole range of vegetables--they do not know how to
But the people are interested. We were training a local man, and
when the rest of the community saw that someone whom they knew, some-
one whom they grew up with, could grow lettuce and turn a handsome
profit, several farmers started asking to receive guidance in vegeta-
ble growing. They soon were willing to turn over their irrigated
lands for growing vegetables.
Contour planting was used to prevent the topsoil from washing away.
We had 25 people working almost every day, digging ditches on contour.
We taught farmers in different parts of the area different techniques
of contour ditching. The interest is there, but you have to dedicate
a lot of time and support to make it a permanent feature of their
C. We built the first garden in Santa Barbara in 1970, when hardly any-
one was gardening. We now have two permanent allotment gardens in
Santa Barbara that have about 70 individuals and families. Through
Warren Pierce's course, we have reached more than 1000 people. In
fact, we feel that the proliferation of gardens all over the United
States in response to the economy has been somewhat related to our
Q. The only objection I see is the business of getting enough compost
materials. You have fertilizers sitting in the store (down the street)
and it seems much easier to use them. What do you do?
A. That is a problem in Santa Barbara. This kind of technology has
to be woven into the social aspect as well as into the purely tech-
nical aspect. It has to have cultural value, something that people
have experience in, one way or another. If you have a family gar-
den in the yard, you are talking about something that is not out
of the cultural realm of the peoples' lives. There are, for in-
stance, among the Mayans and other peoples of the Central Americas,
traditional systems of home gardens. It may not look like a home
garden to us because we are oriented in a different way. But there
will be some fruit trees behind the house, and there may be a few
pepper plants, flowers for religious or medicinal purposes, etc.
C. In the Dominican Republic we found that exact situation. Every
home, no matter how poor, had a garden.
C. In the delivery system of promoting technology in a developing
country, it is not unusual to have one extension agent for 300-500
farmers. We are just not doing very well. Now we are going to have
to have a technology which will require essentially a one-to-one
kind of relationship over an extended period of time. We have to
consider how we are going to deliver that to a fairly large number
of farms. Unfortunately, that type of support needed is very hard
to find. When we were in the Peace Corps, we had to struggle very
hard for the agency to come around with a program. With US AID,
it took a tremendous amount of talking before they could even under-
stand what was taking place.
C. These are the things that I hoped would come about in this workshop
by having a meeting with people in your positions. Hoping that we
could develop some kind of understanding of the needs that we have
in the field in order to make a real impact. I want to make it very
clear that we are not here to talk about producing enough food to
feedthe world. What we are trying to do is to increase the nutri-
tional levels of low income rural families. We are also talking
about poor areas in the cities, too, as in Latin America. It is
very difficult to transfer a technique from somebody who comes from
C. We are talking about commodities. Soil as commodity and land as
commodity. Another way to look at this is through man and his re-
lationship with nature. This relationship has a different way of
looking at the soil and that has long-term implications concerning
how land is handled for the future.
Q. Does anyone have any information regarding the religious orientation
of Third World people that might be utilized along lines that suggest
capitalizing on reverence for the land.
A. The religious institution is sometimes the only institution the peo-
ple have. There is almost a zero confidence level in the people them-
selves. In some cultures, the calendar is incredibly intricate.
Every day has symbolism and is ritualized, from preparation to plant-
ing to cultivating andso on Being totally aware of the significance
of the symbolism would be a far better approach than the so-called
Green Revolution. Instead of the government's trying to use a top-
down approach, it seems better to start at the bottom level, and ex-
pand it through the community.
C. Concerning intervention, you pointed out that one way is to go through
the hip pocket. That is one motivation because people see it as a
money-oriented, something-for-me proposition. That is a very narrow
intervention. It seems to me that we are talking about more of a so-
cial intervention. It is more body-based, community-based, integrated
rural development. So we can take the people and find out what they
are already doing. Then we should start with a slight intervention
and start growing the kinds of things the people are growing with
slight improvements, then make it possible to develop other, across-
C. You have cultural differences all over. Take, for example, tree owner-
ship in some places like Latin America. You plant a tree, then some-
one else harvests it. Then you have ecological differences. One of
the values of field programs is that you can look at the limitations.
For instance, I have trouble thinking about the usefulness of compost-
ing in the Andes where you have freezing temperatures, or in the Ama-
zon basin where hot weather is the deterrent. So I think it is im-
portant to start looking at the adaptations needed over the different
ecologies. We have all been working relatively close together in the
same environment, so we have developed a rather sophisticated technique.
You might say that that is all we have. You have to look at the area
first, then determine what application should be used. That is the
basis of the educational process we are talking about.
C. I think there is a point to be made here. We were talking about basic
principles of soil chemistry, physics, soil environment. We need to
get back together so that we can reduce the role of organic matter to
relate it to some of the common principles of exchange capacity and
aggregation, so that we can discuss the degradation of organic matter
in terms of anerobic degradation and nutrients. If we start to invent
a new language and try to reinvent the wheel, I do not think that we
will achieve what we are seeking to do. Almost everything that was
said by one of the three speakers this morning could have been related
to some of the traditional principles to show where some of the link-
age exists. I think a failure to do that would be a great loss.
C. I agree with that to some extent. One could be utilizing concepts that
are outsidehis own framework, but sometimes those concepts do not al-
ways fit. I am a soil biologist, and my concepts with respect to pH
would be different than those of a soil chemist. On one side of the
soil aggregates, the pH may be several units different. So as far as
I am concerned, maintenance of pH may be quite meaningless because roots
do not wrap themselves right around aggregates. They move toward where
certain conditions are. So, certainly, from a biological viewpoint, I
would have to compromise my own standing within biology if I were tied
down to concepts acceptable to the soil chemist.
C. I do not really see any violation of any root-soil principles. I think
all the things that are done do not do violence to the soil at all.
What does biodynamics do that's a violation to the soil? What I saw
this afternoon at the Mesa Project I have been seeing a long time in
this culture. The practices seem reasonably logical.
C. What we have here is a system of discussion and consciousness and
language that is effective, meaningful, and directly translatable
into operation. We have a whole discussion trying to legitimize the
approach and make it possible to translate it into terms that a na-
tional government would be able to deal with, or a university system
in research to cope with.
C. There is a certain amount of witch-doctorism going on in universities.
You wouldn't ask the witch doctor not to practice if he were effec-
tive; and he is not necessarily the best person to carry out the ex-
periments to find out what it is he is rubbing on that makes it work.
However, I've seen university agriculture departments this year set
up some plots to test double-digging, and the use of seaweed sprays
and seaweed as a fertilizer. It was a very impressive thing; the
double-digging was by far the most spectacular, but of course, it
was all labor intensive.
C. I cannot believe that the system is the important part at this partic-
ular time. It is the components that make up the system and the pro-
cess involved. It is not a chemical mixture; it is the different com-
ponents. In certain places we are going to have to deal with those
components differently, and I think we would be making an error if
that fact were not recognized.
C. I am not a biologist or a chemist but it seems to me that there has
been a dichotomy drawn on how you look at how plants grow. The chem-
ists tell us that you can take inorganic materials and feed plants to
get them to grow. The others think that you should feed the soil be-
cause it is the soil life that is feeding the plant. There is a dif-
ference, but I do not know whether or not we have to look at it here.
C. We are getting very academic. We need to go back to the subject and
talk about whether this system has any applicability. I find that
the little man in these countries is no different from the Iowa farmer.
He responds to increase. How dowe improve this situation? Will this
system do it? I think that our concern with academics and semantics
will not solve the problem.
C. At the same time people have to talk to each other. I come from an
institution where dialogue is very difficult. It seems to me that
this is legitimate.
C. I think that an essential point is how to get the food, in quality
and quantity, to powerless people in rural and urban areas. Whether
the biodynamic or chemical method is used is not essential for me. I
feel that some compromise is necessary. We need a blending of both.
C. I react very strongly to those statements because what is applicable
to Taiwan is certainly not applicable to Indonesia, India, or Mexico.
Because of the access of countries like Taiwan and Japan--their prox-
imity--they are partly developed. You are looking only in terms of
yields, of economic benefits, and you should look at several other
factors, too. For instance, the Indonesian rice paddy is a complete
life support system. It not only provides rice, it provides fish
for protein. It has soybeans growing on embankments. It has a
very intricate ecosystem that can be entirely destroyed by chemi-
There are a number of other factors. Access of the farmer to
chemicals and technology is totally manipulated and controlled by
the centralized system from institutes like IRRI or CIMMYT. The
kind of technology that we are talking about here is one that is
at the level of the peasant. I am not at this time totally advo-
cating the intensive method. I am dealing with a complex of social
and ecological problems existing in these countries. But I feel
that you cannot talk purely in terms of grain production or strict
increments. Mainland China has succeeded with the Green Revolu-
tion solely because of its distribution system of chemicals or
technology and extension system.
Q. I am having problems trying to set in my own mind what it is we
want to discuss. I am looking for a problem statement. We started
out in the beginning of this session talking about stability and
permanence. If chemicals are not going to meet the world's needs,
then what kind of agriculture will?
A. Fhe improvement of the nutritional status of the poorest families
in the rural areas of developing countries. That is the ultimate
Q. Are we going to help people feed themselves tomorrow or are we go-
ing to try to do that over a long term?
A. I think that if we teach people how to feed themselves tomorrow,
then we will have time to come to a long-term conclusion.
C. Pesticides and herbicides affect nutrition and since they do, I
think we should discuss whether we use them.
C. The evidence that has come out over the last 50 years does not sup-
port what I think you are indicating. I think to get into that
topic is irrelevant to what this meeting is all about. Literature
is loaded with information that bears out very well that the use of
chemicals (and I am not talking about the use of pesticides but
chemical fertilizers) has not been shown to be deleterious to the
nutritional quality of crops.
C./ It seems to me that if we can agree that we do have a concern about
Q. underdeveloped countries and people that are not eating, then we
might ask what kind of system serves these needs? Then we ask our-
selves what is it that we are trying to accomplish? We describe
what the rural situation is in underdeveloped countries, then we
work backward. Does an organic system seem to fit? It seems to
me that what's being said is, "I'm poor. I have little land. I
have traditional skills. I haven't used intensive labor. I do
have some tools. I don't have much money. I have access to very
little in the way of fertilizer, herbicide, or pesticide. Even
if I have access to these things, I don't know much about using them."
It certainly seems that the Intensive/Biodynamic System holds a
lot of promise. But what is the trade-off? For every action there
is a reaction. The trade-off, it seems to me, is that you have to
get out into the community. You have to have people who are reason-
ably trained to understand this technique in the place where they
are. We need to help bring in an agricultural system that looks at
what the interest and needs of the people are. And that does not
mean that you have a magic quick-fix on the system, because it takes
time to develop. But I think looking at the needs is one way of
finding out what we could do right now to determine whether we would
or would not start a hybrid of mixing organic and inorganics later
C./ Several of the problems we are facing in the food situation are not
A. being met because of things that Sterling Wortman mentioned in his
article. Because many of the countries have relatively small popu-
lations, they cannot provide the scientific backup and they have
poor distribution systems. These problems are not the problems of
a back yard garden project. I don't think the extension of the
method is as much of a problem as has been suggested. My experience
has been that the people who copy the method are the greatest exten-
sion workers. They have relatives all over the place. I was look-
ing for mulch in one area of Canada and I used newspaper; the next
year there were newspapers flying all over the road. They got half
the method. On the other hand, we are going to come face to face
with these different approaches.
It is rather similar to the problem I face within the Canadian agri-
cultural college of which I am a part. People phone into the col-
lege saying that they have a pest problem with their cabbage and
asking what to do about it. The switchboard operator says, "Use a
pesticide". They do not want to use a pesticide, so the operator
puts them through to me. Then they say to me, "I want to use a
pesticide, but I cannot find DDT in the store anymore and I want
to find out what I should use instead." So they get put through
to the guy in the next room. So the college is putting out two
opposite pieces of information.
I am saying, "Don't use a pesticide". But this involves asking the
person what variety are you planting, when are you planting it,
how do you irrigate, how do you manage your soil, what are the other
plants in the garden? In fact, I get to know that person's garden
very well. The other guy is concerned with the identification of
the pest. He's got it crossed to something like Malathion. It's
one thing when you use organic methods. Another when you use chemi-
cals. One does get into a problem which certainly is going to come
up sooner or later.
C. I would like to respond to that. Yes, you are talking about a prob-
lem. For example, the Peace Corps is training people in agriculture
to give them a shot of organic as well as inorganics. The people
are bewildered. Well, my view is to go to the people with whom you
are going to be working and ask them if they have the money for these
things. Find out if they have the knowledge of how to use them.
The answer comes up with a resounding NO! Then you go back and
say, 'Why are you teaching inorganics, chemicals, and pesticides,
giving a skill to someone that he/she cannot use?" So I am saying
that when one gets into that end of the service, many of these prob-
lems (the poor switchboard operator) get eliminated right away, by
virtue of the fact that you have to accept the people and the situ-
ation that they are in.
C. I agree. We have to identify the target populations. We are going
to talk about people who do not have any access to these systems.
The poorest of the poor, people who do not have access to finan-
cial resources. One of the reasons is that they are not organized
into cooperatives to develop a structure. We are not talking about
people who have access to supply inputs. We are not talking about
people who have access to technical knowledge or the input of infor-
mation. When you get down to that level, and if that is the level
we are focusing on, then there are questions to be asked.
One is the production problem. We think that when production is in-
creased, there will be an increase in consumption which will increase
nutritional levels. My experience is that any time anything is val-
ued, it will bring cash and that cash will be used for what is most
important, including some things which you and I would think ridicu-
lous. It is their value system. Only as there becomes a surplus
will nutrition rise. Obviously there are exceptions. We need an
educational approach and a demonstrational approach, both in terms
C. Our experience was somewhat different. We found that food was sold
but the need to improve nutrition in the family was addressed first.
The children were eating the greens. There is no market for new foods
outside the area in which the foods are being grown. So the new foods
were not being sold because the farmer would take them to the market
and the people would not buy. I have heard that cash is more attrac-
tive than increased food consumption. That's what people have told
me. That's what I have read in books. But that was not my experi-
C. I am talking about where a market does exist.
C. I would like to speak as a person from a developing country. I grew
up during the Second World War, living with the people we are talk-
ing about. So far we have discussed problems in technology with
which we should not be concerned. I wish that there could be a part-
nership between the scientists and the people who are not scientists
but who have much more experience in delivering.
C. I would like to say that one of the main reasons I am here at this
workshop is the same reason that Mark is here. Approximately eight
months ago, when I first ran into Paul Relis at a meeting of Project
Concern and Direct Relief here in Santa Barbara, I was very much im-
pressed with the idea of small plot farming, especially after work-
ing over 20 years in Asia. There chemicals are not available to the
poor farmer. The farmer has land but he is not utilizing it. He
does not compost. There are needs for chemicals in the big rice
paddies and the commercial enterprises. But again, getting down
to the grass-roots level of the individual farmer who is poor, I
feel there is a tremendous possibility and approach here to increase
his nutritional status. It is going to take time to fit into the
cultural patterns of Honduras, Korea, India.
But you have to get back to the fundamental level of the people.
Schumacher, in his book, Small Is Beautiful: Economics As If Peo-
ple Mattered, states that all development starts with people,
their organization, and education. Without them everything else
is impotent, sterile, and latent. I would like to form a consensus
that we need to get down to help the individual farmer in the rural
area. He does not have chemicals available. He does not have the
other things available. I think Intensive/Biodynamic farming has
much to offer him. The impact of these demonstration farms also
has to be recognized. I had a demonstration piggery. Before I went
into the area, no one castrated hogs. They didn't know how. Organi-
zations and foundations are risk people. We took the risk that Phil
Leavenworth was speaking about a few minutes ago. The farmer cannot
afford to take the risk. We have to be prepared to take it. We have
to be prepared to fail, to show the people that eventually something
will work, whether it is organic farming or castrating hogs.
C./ I would like to agree. However, I would like to say that I find
Q. some difficulties in the question of transferring new crops. I think
we have to re-evaluate the situation. What do we mean by develop-
ment? Are we talking about improvement or shaping? Are we talking
about building or total transfer?
C./ One thing that should be mentioned in regard to tropical countries,
Q. where you do not have storage for perishables, is that they usually
have a lot of corn or rice that they need to carry through poor times.
This leads to another question, that of storage. There are some
nice methods coming along, so that producing staple crops and storing
them for lean times can be done. Also the biological aspects of pest
management are extremely important so that the use of chemicals can
be kept at a minimum. The area of West Africa is very low in phos-
phorus. Manure is not going to put that much more into the system.
But I do think it is important to get animals into the system. Some-
times organic animal waste is as good as a compost pile. Eggs or
ducks in rice fields are used, and some other neat little systems
are used, such as the sour orange peel, which is something like 47%
In the approach being discussed, more intense labor in some cultures
will cause problems. The input is what the wife can do. If that
culture is not accustomed to accepting change, we have to understand
the sociology going on. That comes first. What is the incentive?
Is it the fact that someone's child is going to live to be 60 instead
of 45? He will never see that incentive. Is it the fact that his
belly is going to be full that night? He probably will not see that
either because in his culture he eats first and the children eat
last. So labor intensity is going to be a problem.
C./ One point that this technology or methodology has which would give
A. it a more or less universal advantage with the small farmer is that
the small farmer has a very intimate understanding of the systems
and the interrelationships with those systems. For instance, I was
traveling in Sumatra with a group of my students and we got one of
the best lectures on energy levels within the plant canopy from a
fellow in a loin cloth. The people understand, for instance, the
balance between crop and weed. And it seems to me that that kind
of feeling is basic to technology. It is not the kind of feeling
that the U.S. farmer has because he never gets closer to his crops
than the seat of his tractor. This is the kind of understanding
that we, as scientists, have to possess by working closely with
crops for a long time. I sense that people working with the Inten-
sive/Biodynamic Method have this feeling. This gives your technol-
ogy a real advantage. We have been trying to do research in the
Philippines to get a handle on this. We call it farmer/participant
research, where most of the research is done in the tropics in the
farmer's field. The problem is with training extension workers
from cities to help rural farmers. If you can get someone from a
rural area to teach, you are far better off.
C. From this intensive approach come a great many benefits. Tools can
be made locally. Education can be spread through the people. Let
me show a few slides to demonstrate what I mean.
One of the people who has worked with Alan Chadwick since the begin-
ning of the process in Covelo has his own small homestead to the
east of Covelo. He has a garden very similar to the garden that we
have. Currently there are three people working it. They are doing
what we have done. He is particularly interested in animals. He
has made a great effort to get this aspect of the Biodynamic approach
together. Steve is also getting into animal traction tools.
C. Temperature tends to favor crop production over crop decomposition,
and the optimum temperature for decomposition is higher than the
optimum for production. So in temperate countries we tend to pro-
duce more organic matter than we break down. Consequently, even if
you double dig and speed up decomposition, you still have a problem
in tropical countries where the organic matter is breaking down
faster than it is being produced. I think this is going to require
some modifications of the techniques.
C. There is one other principle that comes in here. That is that the
total amount of organic matter in the soil is important as far as
aggregates and physical structure are concerned. But with respect
to releasing plant food, it is the matter of organic turnover that
is important. This can be a compensating factor as long as you get
Q. The problem, it seems to me, is whether you as a group or confeder-
ation of people involved in Intensive/Biodynamic agriculture, are
willing to open yourselves to compromise and deal with a broader
group of people, even to the extent of going and dealing with the in-
dustrial, commercial sector. I mentioned to Richard this afternoon
that it seems to me that you are, collectively, making what amounts
to a political statement by your willingness to come here and dis-
cuss this with a group of people who perhaps are not of your per-
A. First of all, the attitude we would like to convey is that we do
not have any universal answers to the problem of food. There has
been a great effort to deal with this technique. Some approach it
from a research focus, some from an educational focus, and some
from a training focus. It is not really for us to choose how to
get the information out to millions in a very short time. We are
bringing in evidence for this technique before a larger audience
now in hopes that some of the institutions and funding agencies can
respond to an idea that appears to work and to be worthy of someone's
C. I think it is absolutely essential that the system be as simple as
possible, stripped down to its essential elements. One thing I have
learned from experience is that you should try to adopt whatever
plan that is basically in use in the culture at the time. Try to
adapt to the tools in use. Also we should try to use the native
food, things people actually are eating, rather than trying to in-
troduce a new food, because you just complicate the issue. In Ecua-
dor seeds are difficult to come by. Consequently if you use seeds
that everybody uses anyway, you are a step ahead.
What I would do before anything is talk to the people as long as
possible to find out what their opinion is on vegetable production
and adapt to that system as closely as possible. That, with success,
will encourage people to spread the word. You have got to have some-
thing that is tested in their environment. You have to test with-
out drawing on their resources because they are so needy. It has
got to be done either by an agency of some sort or government before
you can introduce it to the people.
C. What you want to do is minimize the intervention and get the system
to work better. You are working with an existing agricultural eco-
system, bringing in little addenda that might make it more efficient
or practical. I tend to fault IRRI for trying to develop a package
deal which comes in with a new crop system, which has got rotation,
C. It would be very easy to get sidetracked here in that those of us
who are promoting what we are doing are using this concept as a
paradigm of small scale thinking. When you take something people
are doing and improve upon it, if possible, the success ratio will
go up and the ripple effect will promote fast adoption. If you try
to put in a whole package of new practices at one time, the ratio
of success will drop tremendously. The ripple effect will die out
and the people will remember the failures more than the successes.
Q. I would like to address this question to Mark. If you take a 1200
sq ft plot which would produce 350 lb of vegetables for supplementary
diet per month, would that be a problem because a family cannot eat
A. In our area they are very happy to produce that surplus because the
surplus is marketable to a certain extent. The people also use it
it for their animals.
Q. To what extent can this gardening practice be interspersed with ex-
isting or other cropping methods?
A. From our experience in the Dominican Republic, the practice is more
or less universal. What we need to concentrate on is labor intensive
practices. There is a tremendous amount of unemployment in rural
areas. In our town there was a group of young men who had no land
because the population had grown so tremendously. The land base was
no longer there; the population had eaten it up. Because of the
population density, there was not enough land for the young men to
go out and find land to farm. But the labor was there.
C. Another question to be raised in this workshop is how do you go about
implementing the adaptation? Whom do you send? We could possibly
send a person with a certain kind of orientation and a certain kind
of sensitivity. At Covelo, Santa Cruz, and Santa Barbara they are
attempting to help people acquire that sensitivity. In many cases
urban people have acquired that sensitivity. So one of the things
that we have come here to offer to potential helpers is assistance
in acquiring that sense about life.
Q. Why bring them here? Why not train them in their own country?
A. If they themselves could take it back to the people, they could
more easily adapt. Meals for Millions has a pilot food processing
plant in Santa Monica and we have ten students now from all over
the world. We bring them here for eight weeks of training and send
them back. I was thinking along these lines.
C. There is a whole method of technology transfer that still has to be
developed. We have experience in a lot of what is successful and
what is not successful. But a great deal of work still has to be
done. It has to be done in the field in all areas. This is expen-
sive. It is also in the nature of experimental work. It is very
hard to get support for experimental work. The human and financial
resources for carrying out projects of this nature, until now, have
not been forthcoming. A major point of this workshop is that there
will be some united effort here to shake loose the kind of support
that is necessary to get more meaningful work done in these areas.
C. We are talking about human life in numerous isolated variations.
Solutions have to be tailored in a very individual fashion. The
more general you get, the farther you get from actually working in
C. I think two years is the minimum amount of time required for a per-
son to become sensitive to and aware of the problems that exist among
his neighbors. Sometimes it takes five, six, or seven years before
these people will come and express interest. There has to be an
understanding of the time element involved in this educational process.
C. You have a model for a delivery system, but we are going to need a
million more of you because the impact is about 1/2000 people. We
have got to be looking for other kinds of delivery systems.
C. I don't think you are going to find them. The process of education
is a long one.
C. I think that we are going about trying to define our own goal the
wrong way. I think it should be defined by the people in developing
countries. I think we should question and challenge the bases of
the assumptions of dependency. What are creating these conditions
in underdeveloped countries? What are the means by which the re-
sources and land are distributed? Why do people have no control over
the productive process in their countries? From my experience in In-
donesia and South America, the process of promoting self-determination
was exploited by the intervention by multinational corporations and
by various government agencies.
C. It bothers me to hear you talk about the location-specific or
environment-specific nature of your work, because there are elements
of it that have universal application. No funding agency is willing
to lay money on the line for such location-specific projects. If you
look at the format for applications to USAID or any other agency,
they want to know the time-frame, the impact area, and the extent of
impact. I think that if you could look at your method as one that
has a whole series of universalities, you could bring these common
denominators down to a fairly low level before you have to start
splitting them up into environment-specific kinds of things. Then
you would meet with more success.
C. I don't know how successful I or any of the other speakers were this
morning in trying to do that. We tried to generalize as much as pos-
sible. I would like to make a comment. You send individuals who
understand the work so that they no longer need "the book". In fact,
there is no book for this particular area that has both individual
and more generalized approaches to cultivation.
I would like to raise another point here which I think is important.
We need to recognize the role of women in this work. This has been
tremendously overlooked and the worst kind of male chauvinist atti-
tude has been practiced. You are out in a community trying to give
a body of knowledge to that community. If you are a man you can ap-
proach fewer than 50% of that community. Some of the most essential
work must be done by women because in many of the cultures men cannot
get at the people who control the nutritional level of the family.
Men control the money; women control the nutrition.
Q. How much training is the absolute minimum for getting these ideas
across? Can you bring the campesinos in for a week for observation?
A. We do it in a year, but I would say longer if I had a choice.
C. If each person needed a year's training to pick up this system I
think it would be too expensive.
C. There has to be an understanding that if one person in a community
is properly trained, someone from a farming family, a campesino,
you get a good result. When that family returns to the home and
starts the demonstration, that family stays there for a lifetime
and the ripple effect starts.
One of the delivery systems employed involves bringing the campe-
sino types to a training center for only a few days. Half the time
is spent giving them technical tools and tricks and half the time
teaching them how to teach those tricks back home. People are se-
lected very carefully: some of the community experts come -- a live-
stock guy, a poultry guy, and so forth. By coming there they become
the official system of information. And they each are obliged in
turn to train five assistants. And each of the assistants are sup-
posed to train five more assistants. Here is a very rapid method
of propagating technical specialties. What we do need is a set of
lesson plans that work with farmers all over and start propagating
Editor's Note: At this point time caught up with endurance and the dis-
cussion trailed off on a positive note. It concluded not as the end of
a meeting but as a break until the next day.
HOME GARDENS AS A NUTRITION INTERVENTION
Home Garden: A Low-Input and High-Output Food Resource
for Rural Families in Asian and Pacific Countries
Y. H. Yang
The results of nutrition surveys in three Asian countries and in
the USA indicate that anemia and Vitamin A deficiency are major
public health problems. The relation of Vitamin A deficiency to
a low intake of dark green leafy vegetables is identified. Prob-
lems of home garden programs in different countries are discussed.
The nutrition contribution of a 300 sq ft and a 450 sq ft home
garden to a family of five is estimated. An East-West Center
community nutrition project, "Agriculture for Nutritional Improve-
ment", is presented.
Population and food supply
The global nutrition problem rests on the relationship between popula-
tion and food supply. Much attention has been paid in recent years to
this problem by individual governments, regional agencies, and interna-
tional organizations. In the past decade world population has increased
at a rate of 2% per annum while from 1962 to 1973 per capital food pro-
duction increased only 8% (Attachment 1). The food production increase
occurred mainly in the developed countries; people in Asia did no4 enjoy
an equal share. Per capital calorie and protein availabilities in most
countries still fall below nutritional requirements (Attachment 2).
The problem in Asia is further aggravated by the fact that this 57% of
the world's population owns only 32.7% of the world's arable land. In
other words, the only reliable approach to improving the food and nutri-
tional status of Asian people is to increase the efficiency of food pro-
duction, with special attention to crops rich in the nutrients now de-
ficient in the common diet.
Vegetable crops as efficient producers of calories and protein
It has generally been assumed that while cereal crops are efficient
producers of calories and legumes supply protein, vegetable crops pro-
vide neither calories nor protein. This assumption is wrong. Most veg-
etables can provide similar amounts of energy and even more protein than
cereal crops (Attachment 3). The dark green leafy vegetables are also
outstanding sources of pro-Vitamin A, iron, calcium, ascorbic acid,
other essential nutrients, and crude fiber. They are also free of cho-
lesterol. Undoubtedly vegetable crops should receive attention in a
country's agricultural planning.
ANEMIA AND VITAMIN A DEFICIENCY AS MAJOR PUBLIC HEALTH PROBLEMS
Common nutritional problems
Generally speaking, protein-calorie malnutrition among young children
is a major nutrition problem in the developing countries while obesity
and its associated disorders are a problem in the developed world. How-
ever, there are two problems common to both: anemia and Vitamin A de-
fiency. Here are the situations in a few selected countries.
Republic of Korea
A food and nutrition survey conducted in February 1973 in four areas
of South Korea and covering 304 households indicated that although pro-
tein intake was generally adequate (with the exception of the fishery
area), calories, iron, Vitamin A, and ascorbic acid were in most cases
below the recommended dietary allowances for Koreans. The details are
shown in Table 1.
Table 1. Average Nutrient Intake per Adult per Day in Four Areas
Area Calories Protein Iron Vitamin A Acid
g mg IU mg
Farm 2296 67 14.5 1060 31
Fishery 2056 53 8.4 2040 27
Mountain 2491 68 11.1 3010 60
Urban 2228 9 13.1 3669 4
Average 2266 66 11.8 2445 40
Source: Lee Ki-Yull and Kim Sook-He, 1974
The pattern is similar to the data collected by the Office of Rural De-
velopment in 1968 in three pilot villages of the Applied Nutrition Pro-
ject. Although substantial amounts of vegetables are consumed by Koreans,
most of them are of the pale varieties, such as Chinese cabbage and rad-
ish. Incidence of anemia and Vitamin A deficiency is high, particularly
in farm and fishery areas.
The seriousness of Vitamin A deficiency and anemia in Indonesia has long
been reported and great efforts have been exerted by the Health Ministry
toward treatment and prevention. The situation seems little changed.
The prevalence of xerophthalmia, a manifestation of prolonged serious
Vitamin A deficiency, has ranged from 1.64 to 13.0% as recorded in hos-
pitals and the community (Table 2).
In the early 1960s, it was reported at a hospital in Bandung that 82%
of the completely blind patients between infancy and nine years of age
had lost their sight as a result of Vitamin A deficiency (Roels, 1962).
In 1972 the Department of Health estimated that there were 120,000 blind
people in Indonesia, mostly children.
Table 2. The Prevalence of Xerophthalmia in Indonesia
Pondok Pinang, Jakarta
Bogor, Central Java
Rural Central Java
aNumber classified as malnourished
Source: Soekirman, 1974
In 1969 a field survey of adult women and men was conducted in several
regions. It showed 59-90% of pregnant women, 35-85% of non-pregnant
women, and 16-50% of adult males to be suffering from anemia. Details
are shown in Table 3.
Table 3. Prevalence of Anemia Based on Hemoglobin Levela
Regions No. % Anemic No. % Anemic No. % Anemic
aWHO standard: Less than 11 g/100 ml for pregnant women,
12 g for non-pregnant women, and 13 g for adult males
Source: Soekirman, 1974
During 1958-69, the Food and Nutrition Research Center of the National
Science Development Board of the Philippines conducted nutrition surveys
covering 2813 households in nine regions. These surveys identified four
major deficiencies: calories, protein, Vitamin A, and iron (Florentino,
The average daily per capital food intake, compared to the recommended
food allowances, was very low for milk and milk products, oil and fats,
leafy and yellow vegetables, eggs, fruits rich in Vitamin C, and dried
beans and seeds. Details are shown in Table 4.
Average Daily Per Capita Food Intake Compared to Recommended
Table 4. Food Allowances in Nine Regions of the Philippines, 1958-69
Daily % of Recommended
Food Groups Intake Food Allowances
Cereals and ceral products 345 106.2
Starchy roots and tubers 65 89.0
Sugars and syrups 16 64.3
Dried beans and seeds 7 43.8
Leafy and yellow vegetables 28 32.9
Meat, poultry, and fish 119 85.6
Eggs 5 33.3
Milk and milk products 21 23.3
Fats and oils 8 26.7
Source: Food and Nutrition Research Center, National Science Develop-
ment Board of the Philippines
As a result, the diet was seriously deficient in Vitamin A, riboflavin,
and calcium, and to a lesser degree, thiamine, calories, and iron. Pro-
tein and ascorbic acid were also below the borderline. Details are shown
in Table 5.
Average Daily Per Capita Nutrient Intake Compared to Recommended
Table 5. Allowances in Nine Regions of the Philippines, 1958-69
% of Recommended
Nutrients Daily Intake Food Allowances
Calories 1671 83.5
Protein, g 46.5 93.5
Calcium, g .34 59.6
Iron, mg 9.0 90.0
Vitamin A, IU 1812 44.6
Thiamine, mg .73 71.6
Riboflavin, mg .47 46.1
Niacin, mg 14 107.7
Ascorbic acid, mg 67 97.1
Source: Food and Nutrition Research Center, National Science Develop-
ment Board of the Philippines
Biochemical assessment made during the surveys further verified the seri-
ousness of malnutrition (Table 6). Half of the subjects examined were
suffering from anemia and Vitamin A deficiency, with the most serious
deficiencies occurring among pregnant women and children under six.
Table 6. Biochemical Findings in Nine Regions of the Philippines, 1958-69
% of Populationa
Vitamin A Protein
Age Groups Anemia Deficiency Deficiency
1-6 years 71 82 10
7-12 years 52 76 5
13-20 years 41 47 2
21 years and over 41 27 3
Pregnant women 78 30 36
Nursing women 52 41 1
Entire population 49 50 5
aIncluding those with deficient/low levels of hemoglobin, serum Vitamin
A, and serum albumin
Source: Food and Nutrition Research Center, National Science Development
Board of the Philippines
The result of the Ten-State Nutrition Survey conducted in 1969-70, cover-
ing some 24,000 families and including over 86,000 persons, indicated
that a significant proportion of the population surveyed was malnourished,
particularly in regard to iron and Vitamin A deficiencies.
The survey reported:
--Many infants consumed much lower intakes of calories, iron, Vitamin A,
and Vitamin C than required by the standard.
--A large percentage of the adolescent group had intakes below the stan-
dards for calcium, iron, and Vitamin A.
--The diets of pregnant and lactating women in this survey were below
the standards for calories, iron, calcium, Vitamin A, and protein.
--Persons 60 years of age and older consumed far less food than needed...
other limiting nutrients were protein, iron, and Vitamin A.
The biochemical assessments made during the survey further confirmed the
prevalence of iron and Vitamin A deficiency. The survey reported that
--on hemoglobin, hematocrit, and related measures, it appears from these
data that nutritional iron deficiency, producing lowered hemoglobin
levels, is a public health problem in the population studied and
-on Vitamin A and carotene, the data...indicate that Vitamin A nutritional
status is a major public health concern among Spanish-Americans in the
low-income-ratio states...There was a positive relationship between the
level of plasma Vitamin A and the amount of Vitamin A consumed in the
These deficiencies, in fact, occurred in both high- and low-income-ratio
states and among different ethnic groups, including high-income whites.
However, low-income blacks suffered most from iron deficiency and Spanish-
Americans most in Vitamin A deficiency. These findings suggest that in-
come is not the only determinant of nutritional status. Other factors,
such as social, cultural, and educational differences, also play an im-
Measures to combat iron and Vitamin A deficiencies
Many studies have been made on different measures to combat iron and
Vitamin A deficiencies. Some of these measures have long been practiced,
such as enrichment of wheat flour and skim milk powder and distribution
of ferrous sulfate tablets through maternal and child health centers.
Enrichment of white sugar with Vitamin A is also under serious considera-
tion. The periodic administration of heavy doses of Vitamin A has yielded
very promising results. The problem is whether the country has effective
health delivery systems and financially adequate logistic resources to
operate the program continuously without interruption.
Recently some economists and nutritionists have alleged that it is not
economical to obtain iron and Vitamin A from food. The cost of synthe-
tic Vitamin A, for instance, is an infinitesimal fraction of the cost
of an equivalent amount of Vitamin A derived from vegetables. Further-
more, the conversion efficiency of carotene is low and absorption of
iron from vegetables is poor. It is understandable that in numerous
publications on national food and nutrition policy in recent years, lit-
tle attention has been paid to the production and consumption of dark
green vegetables as a practical measure to improve the nutritional sta-
tus of the population. It is tempting, though possibly fallacious, to
assume that as income increases, consumption of green vegetables will
automatically increase. But how long will it be before the small sub-
sistence farmer in Asia is rich enough to create any effective demand
It may be emphasized that the promotion of home gardens in rural areas
is intended to develop additional food resources at the local level, not
to replace commercial vegetable gardens or emergency nutrition interven-
tion programs where the need for such programs is apparent.
HOME GARDENS AS A PRACTICAL MEASURE
Current programs in different countries
The cultivation of home gardens is a standard practice in rural areas of
many countries. The gardens receive strong emphasis in the Applied Nu-
trition Projects that are implemented with FAO/WHO/UNICEF assistance.
Results are not uniformly encouraging, due usually to lack of research
and planning, leadership, and continued follow-up. Vegetable gardens
flourish during periods when production contests are going on, then grad-
ually disappear. However, such experiences, even if expensive, are use-
ful as a guide for future planning.
Recently the government of the Philippines launched its "Green Revolution
Campaign" and Malaysia introduced a "Green Book" to encourage local food
production. The 'aemaul Undong" (New Community Movement) in Korea fea-
tured home food production as an important component. Indonesia and Thai-
land also renewed their efforts in this direction.
Potential nutrition contribution of a home garden
The basis of calculation may be summarized as follows.
Vegetable selection and yield calculation
An experiment was carried out to calculate the potential nutrition contri-
bution of a small home garden, based on the situation in Hawaii. The
College of Tropical Agriculture, University of Hawaii, published for gen-
eral distribution a mimeographed pamphlet "Planting Guide for Vegetables
and Melons in Hawaii". It gives estimates on the number of days to har-
vest and on the yield per 100 ft row of 57 different vegetables and of
various melons. Sixteen different varieties were selected from the Guide
on the basis of their nutritional content (Attachment 4) and their ease
of cultivation under local conditions. Their daily yields in weight per
10 sq ft were calculated (Attachment 5). They range from 0.018 lb in
the case of hot peppers up to 0.167 lb for mustard greens (kai choy)
and Chinese cabbage (pak choy), a ten fold difference in the speed of
Output of calories and nutrients
The differences in output of calories and nutrients are even greater.
For example, mustard greens yield 15 times as many calories as pumpkin,
32 times as much iron as peppers, and 372 times as much Vitamin A value
as green soybeans (Attachment 6).
Rating of crops in terms of nutrient output
Based on the efficiency of producing four essential nutrients, protein,
iron, Vitamin A, and ascorbic acid, 16 vegetables were arranged in de-
scending order. Those with the highest value received 16 points and
those with the lowest, 1 point (Attachment 7). When added together, mus-
tard received the highest total score, 63 points, while pumpkin received
the lowest, only 6 points. This comparison, as mentioned above, was
made among the 16 selected vegetables only, identifying the most efficient
producer of four nutrients commonly deficient in the diet (Attachment 8).
Output of nutrients from a home garden
The output of nutrients from a typical small garden, 300 sq ft in size,
was calculated on the basis of planting four vegetables common in Hawaii:
Manoa lettuce, snap beans, cucumber, and eggplant (Attachment 9, Section
B, Garden 1). The nutrition contribution to a family of five was very
However, when vegetables with a high nutritional value (for instance,
water convolvulus, pak choy, and amaranth) were planted in the garden,
the picture was entirely different (Attachment 9, Section B, Garden 2).
Both ascorbic acid and Vitamin A were available in abundance to the family
while iron and protein availabilities also showed valuable increases.
Only a better crop selection could make such a vital difference In addi-
tion to the nutritional improvement, based on current vegetable retail
prices in Hawaii, the small garden could result in a savings of $1.20 a
day in the family's food expense, a significant consideration in these
days of high inflation.
If additional space and labor are available, the size of the garden may
be expanded to 450 sq ft (50 sq yd). This could give more variety and
even better nutrition support to the family (Attachment 9, Section B,
Garden 2 and Garden 3 are currently under field trial in Pearl City, Hawaii.
In view of the fact that the low intakes of protein and fat affect the
absorption and utilization of iron and pro-Vitamin A, it is desirable
that legumes, particularly soybeans, should be included in home food
production programs. However, a plot of 100 sq yd is needed to produce
enough beans for a family of five (15 g daily per person). A small gar-
den is inadequate to produce the necessary quantity of this crop.
Other systems of vegetable production
If there is no space for a home garden, vegetables may be planted be-
tween major crop seasons, as intercrops, or as a separate crop in crop
rotation. The production of extra vegetables from the home garden for
exchange or sale should be encouraged. In the meantime commercial gar-
dens should be developed to cater to the needs of urban inhabitants and
other people who cannot produce their own vegetables.
Advantages and disadvantages
Many pros and cons on home gardens have been stated by agricultural econ-
omists. They are as follows.
1. Efficient production of nutrients deficient in the common diet
2. Productive utilization of spare land and labor
3. "Garden-to-kitchen" freshness; no transportation or storage losses
4. Fight against petroleum shortage
5. Development of children's interest in agriculture and provision for
exercise and recreation to adults
6. Reduction in family food budget
While points 1. and 2. have been elaborated before and points 5. and 6.
are evident, the other two points, 3. and 4., require further explanation.
Fresh vegetables perish easily, particularly in hot climates. Aside from
the loss of nutritive value and table quality, the percentage of spoilage
during transportation and storage may range from 30 to 60. The cost in-
volved from farm gate to consumer's kitchen, together with a profit mar-
gin for the middleman, makes vegetables prices exorbitant to low-income
Food production in the developed countries, and to an increasing extent
in the developing ones, is heavily dependent on petroleum for chemicals,
irrigation, and the operation of farm machinery. Food packaging, refrig-
erated transportation, and cold storage also require petroleum. In home
garden production, where food moves directly from garden to kitchen, no
such expense is involved. Heavy farm machinery is not required and chemi-
cals can be efficiently utilized. For instance, foliar and mud-ball
application of fertilizers can be easily introduced. In fact, natural
manure of both plant and animal origin could be used to improve soil
texture and replace a part of the petroleum-dependent chemicals.
1. Requirement for production inputs such as seeds, tools, water, and
2. Requirement for constant care
3. Difficulties in insect and disease control
4. Inability of extension workers to reach scattered families
5. Lack of applicability to landless families who may be most in need
of nutritional improvement
There is no way to obtain the projected output without adequate input.
One of the lessons learned from past failures with home gardens concerns
the lack of adequate production inputs. Such problems should be solved
before the launching of home garden campaigns.
Compared with other crops, vegetables need careful and regular attention.
Except during land preparation, however, 1 hr/day of work in a 300 sq
ft garden is usually sufficient.
While some chemicals may be required to control insects and diseases,
consideration must be given to vegetables resistant to insects and dis-
eases. In other words, attention should be paid to crop breeding and
Extension support, both in nutrition education and in agronomy, is essen-
tial to the success of a home garden program. However, if a community
is motivated and organized with the assistance of local volunteers, ex-
tension work can be made much easier.
The solution of the problem of home gardens for landless families depends
on government policy and arrangements at the local level, often case by
case, such as the operation of community gardens on rented or government
land. If there is a will, there is a way. Even table-top gardens are
AGRICULTURE FOR NUTRITIONAL IMPROVEMENT
The East-West Center, in response to recommendations from the Workshop
on Curriculum Development for Community Nutrition, planned a project on
"Agriculture for Nutritional Improvement" with the following objectives.
Demonstrate the relevance of agriculture to the nutritional needs of peo-
ple, introducing the nutrition dimension to agricultural planning, re-
search, and extension of a country.
Plan/strengthen country projects that encourage increased production and
consumption of dark green leafy and yellow vegetables, beans, and nutri-
tious starchy root crops as one of the practical measures to combat
protein-calorie malnutrition, Vitamin A deficiency, and anemia, through
home and commercial gardens and multiple cropping.
Crop variety selection
While the general objectives may be met gradually in the years ahead,
vegetables and beans should be taken into priority consideration to
meet the pressing need of Asia and the Pacific countries. The criteria
for crop selection are:
1) Easy-to-grow, long-yield season, tolerant to different soil and
2) Resistance to pest and disease
3) High in nutritive value and low in substances harmful to health
4) Palatable and easy to prepare
5) Relatively high in market value
6) Locally grown plant or similar variety
The cooperating institutions may include the Asian Vegetable Research
and Development Center (AVRDC), the Southeast Asia Regional Center for
Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), the University of
Hawaii, and other interested universities and research institutions.
The following applied research will be conducted with the cooperation
of concerned institutions:
1) Variety selection and breeding
2) Field observation of recommended varieties
3) Experimentation on year-round gardens
4) Education materials production and field testing
5) Pilot areas operation for expanded country programs
Planning, operation, and evaluation
A two week planning seminar was tentatively scheduled in August 1976.
It is hoped that through the joint effort of all concerned, tie home and
commercial garden program and efficient nutrition-oriented multiple-
cropping practice could be reactivated or gradually developed in the par-
ticipating countries. While the major responsibility in implementing the
program will rest on governments and country institutions, the joint re-
search, training, and evaluation by interested institutions and regional
agencies may have a far-reaching effect on the success of this project.
It is hoped that concerned international and funding agencies could pool
their experiences and resources to assist in planning and operating the
project. The serious nutrition problems of protein-calorie malnutrition,
anemia, and Vitamin A deficiency, when attacked with all available weapons,
may one day disappear from Asian and Pacific countries.
Soekirman. 1974. "Priorities in Dealing with Nutrition Problems in
Indonesia". Cornell International Monograph Series No 1.
2Lee, Ki-Yull and Sook-He, Kim. 1974. "A Scientific Search for the Im-
provement of Korea Diet, March 1972-June 1974". Yonsei and Ewha Women's
3Florentino, Rodolfo F. 1975. "The Malnutrition Problems in the Philip-
pines" (mimeograph). Food and Nutrition Research Center, National Sci-
ence Development Board, Manila, Philippines.
Knott, James E and Deanon, Jr., Jose R. 1967. "Vegetable Production
in Southeast Asia". College of Agriculture, University of the Philippines.
5US Department of Health, Education and Welfare. 1972. "Ten-State Nu-
trition Survey, 1968-1970". DHEW Publication No (HSM) 72-8134.
6National Academy of Science. 1974. "Recommended Dietary Allowances".
7Harvard Uniersity School of Public Health. "Priorities in Child Nutri-
tion", Volumes I-V.
"Planting Guide for Vegetables and Melons in Hawaii" (mimeograph).
College of Tropical Agriculture, University of Hawaii.
9"Composition of Foods". 1963. USDA Agriculture Handbook No. 8.
10FA0 Agriculture Production Yearbook, 1971 and 1973.
Attachment 1: Population, Food Production, and Land Use
A. POPULATION AND FOOD PRODUCTION
Unit: 1,000,000 ha
B. LAND USE (1973)
Arable land and
land under permanent crop
Permanent meadows and pastures
Forest and woodlands
of Per Capita
% of Asia
% of Asia
in World Total
Source: FAO Agriculture Production Yearbook, 1973
Daily Per Capita Calorie and Protein
in USA and Some Asian Countries
Availabilities and Selected Food Supply
Net Food Supply (1971),
of Pulses, Nuts, and Seeds
Source: FAO Agriculture Production Yearbook, 1971
Crop Yield and Its Calorie and Protein Output,
Attachment 3: World Average and USA
Calories Protein USA
1000 kg kg/ha
Groundnuts in shell
aThis figure was much
soybean was produced
Africa and Asia were
affected by USA production as 67.8% of world
in the USA. Regional averages, for instance, for
412 and 814 kg/ha respectively.
Sources: FAO Agriculture Production Yearbook, 1973, and
USDA Agriculture Handbook No 8, 1963
Attachment 4: Food Composition of Selected Vegetables Grown in Hawaii
(in 100 g as purchased)
Calories Protein Calcium Iron Vitamin A
g mg mg IU
~ Pepper, hot
Source: USDA Agriculture Handbook No 8, 1963
Attachment 5. Selected Vegetables Grown in Hawaii
(Chinese green cabbage)
Soybean, vegetable type
Varieties to Plant
Kai choy, Waianae strain
Keystone resistant giant
10 sq ft/d
ayield estimated according to experience in Jamaica. Amaranth Fotete in Dahomey has yield of 113 lb.
Source: College of Tropical Agriculture, University of Hawaii, 1974
Nutrients Output of Selected Vegetables in Hawaii
0o Pepper, sweet
10 sq ft/d
Source: College of Tropical Agriculture, University of
USDA Agriculture Handbook No 8, 1963
Hawaii, 1974 and
Rating in Terms of Output of Nutrients by Selected Vegetables Grown in Hawaii
Vitamin A value
IU Crop mg
L6 Water convolv.
L5 Mustard, green
L3 Pak choy
12 Onion, green
L1 Soybean, green
8 Lettuce, Manoa
6 Sweet potato
5 Bean, snap
3 Pepper, sweet
2 Pepper, hot
0.06 Pumpkin 0.05 Soybean, green
50 Pumpkin .6
Attachment 8: Overall Rating of Selected Vegetables Grown in Hawaii
Time to Plant
Year round up to 2000 ft elevation
November-March below 2000 ft elevation
November-March below 2000 ft elevation
Year round below 2000 ft elevation
Year round up to 3000 ft elevation
Year round up to 2500 ft elevation
Year round up to 3000 ft elevation
November-March below 2000 ft elevation
Attachment 9. Calculated Nutrition Contribution of Home Garden in Hawaii
A. RECOMMENDED DIETARY ALLOWANCES (RDA) FOR A FAMILY OF FIVE
Vitamin A Activity
RE" MCG IU
Source: National Academy of Sciences Recommended Dietary Allowances, 8th edition, 1974.
Attachment 9. Calculated Nutrition Contribution of Home Garden in Hawaii
B. OUTPUT FROM HOME GARDENS
Protein Iron Activity
g mg IU
in RDA of family:
in RDA of family:
in RDA of
10.6% 24.7% 118.9%
Typical current garden, no nutritional consideration
Equivalent to 334 MCG retinol
CSame as Garden 1, but planted with nutritious vegetables
dEquivalent to 3542 MCG retinol
Medium size, 450 sq ft, with nutrition considerations
'Equivalent to 4875 MCG retinol 80
DIRECT RELIEF FOUNDATION STUDY SITES
IN MILAGRO AND GUAYAQUIL, ECUADOR
Janice Gallagher, a Direct Relief Foundation (DRF) volunteer
on assignment in Ecuador, has had remarkable results in two
study sites: Milagro and Guayaquil, After only two months in
the DRF-sponsored Intensive Garden Farming training course in
Santa Barbara, Jan reported to Ecuador in August 1975. There
she introduced the intensive gardening techniques. The response
has been amazing: 20 types of vegetables and other plants have
been cultivated with consequent generation of attitudes ranging
from simple curiosity to outright enthusiasm. Where before local
farmers could not conceive that such variety and abundance were
possible, now they have become Jan's active colleagues in inten-
sive gardening. Newly introduced foods such as soybeans, mus-
tard greens, and zucchini, have been widely accepted. It was
found that people would follow the suggestion to include these
new foods in their soup; acceptance followed easily.
The following excerpt from her report to DRF explains her exper-
ience best and summarizes her remarks to the workshop.
In August of 1975 I flew to Ecuador taking with me a shovel, digging
fork, and 20 lb of seeds in order to introduce new kinds of food plants
to the area and a new method of growing them. I worked in two areas:
Milagro, a rich agricultural area growing little but rice and pineapples,
and the slums of Guayaquil, where absolutely nothing grows. In the lat-
ter case I brought topsoil from Milagro and was able to get a very success-
ful garden going.
In the beginning I did all of the work myself, planting lettuce, toma-
toes, carrots, radishes, onions, cucumbers, peppers, parsley, green beans,
spinach, lima beans, soybeans, mustard greens, summer squash, zucchini,
basil, sunflowers, marigolds, and other flowers on about one-half acre of
land. Of all those plants, only tomatoes had been grown in the area be-
fore. The first ten listed were known to the people but were shipped
in from the Andes making them too expensive for most people to purchase.
The rest were completely unknown. All of the plants did very well with
the exception of spinach.
To get the plants growing quickly I sought some good topsoil and found
it under the guava and cocoa trees. I made seed flats of a mixture of
this rich soil and sand and added topsoil to the planting beds. I also
started making compost piles for the future. There were plenty of ma-
terials lying around and I was able to get chicken manure from the neigh-
boring farmers. No one there had seen a compost pile before. They have
always let the chicken manure "age" (lose most of its nitrogen) so that
they could put it on plants without burning them.
The response of the Ecuadorean people was amazing. The farmers are very
hard working (usually using only a machete or a hoe) but often enjoy mea-
ger results from their efforts. In Milagro they all plant pineapples at
the same time. When they are harvested, the market is glutted and the
price so low it is not worth the bus trip to town to try to sell them.
After struggling for years just to stay alive and feed their families,
the farmers were very open-minded and receptive to new ideas. One of
them actually said, 'We know there are better ways of doing things. We
would like to find out what they are." They have no money to buy machines
or fertilizers. They were excited about the prospect of doing something
immediately to change their situation with only the resources at hand.
The two workers who hoe on the mission property at Milagro were very much
interested in my method of transplanthng lettuce in dense beds rather than
in rows. They had never seen lettuce grow in that climate and doubted it
would be a success. But they helped build a sun shelter out of bamboo
and banana leaves and were almost as happy as I was to see the lettuce
grow so well. We had five successful varieties growing at once, and that
was instrumental in getting other farmers interested in the project. The
sunflowers grew to 10 ft and caused people to come from all over to find
out what was going on. They asked for seeds and information on planting.
The same thing happened in Guayaquil but on a smaller scale. Basically
the program sold itself.
There are now about 25 families interested in one aspect or another of the
program. We have started classes in nutrition and there are seven women
starting their own vegetable gardens to help feed the children.
Perhaps the most important response, however, was that of the agricultural
engineer working at an Ecuadorean government experiment station down the
road from us. He came to visit just to see what was going on. He was im-
pressed by the layout of the garden and the fact that things were planted
so close together. His fields of soybeans planted 18 in apart were choked
with weeds. We had hardly any weeds at all. He was also amazed that we
used no pesticides, an unheard-of practice in the hot, humid climate of
coastal Ecuador. Our only insect problem had been with ants; but a colony
of baby frogs came to live under the cool lettuce leaves and ate most of
them. The ag engineer started working with us on his own. Since then
his cooperation has been officially recognized by the government agency so
that we are in a position to influence or participate in their future pro-
After successfully growing new foods, the next problem is to persuade the
people to accept them in their diet. Again the results were amazing.
Soybeans, for instance, were a completely new food to these people, as
were mustard greens and zucchini. One of the best and easiest ways to in-
troduce the new foods was to put them into their soup. We discovered that
the people would eat almost anything if it were in their soup. Sunflower
seeds proved to be very popular eaten directly out of the shell, in salads,
on cereal, and, of course, in soup.
It is hard to judge the actual quantities of food produced. Nothing
was sold. Almost everything was eaten as it came out of the ground,
mostly by 13 hungry orphans at the mission. A month before I returned
to the U.S., another DRF volunteer came to Ecuador to help. He is car-
rying on the program very successfully.
The important thing about Milagro and Guayaquil is that they are
pilot projects, study sites for DRF. They show people what can
be done -- what they can do. They are based on the idea of com-
munity development and education, making people aware of what pos-
sibilities there are for them to live with dignity and self-respect.
Giving handouts (disaster aid) has nothing to do with the projects.
What is important is that people understand that with their own re-
sources and abilities they can solve their own problems. What they
do is not as important as the fact that it is they who are doing
it, thereby determining their own destiny. Community gardens and
playgrounds could replace garbage dumps in Guayaquil, but the im-
portant thing is that the changes come from the people themselves,
working together in the community. The projects are part of a lar-
ger movement that includes all the Indians still in the mountains.
That movement involves the immediate survival, and aspires to the
eventual restoration, of the Inca Indian culture through such mea-
sures as land reform and elimination of the caste system.
Jan has returned to Santa Barbara for the L.I.F.E. workshop and
her latest report is given here.
I returned to Ecuador in September of 1976 to continue the Intensive
Gardening program introduced successfully the year before. Michael Pope,
another volunteer sent down by DRF, arrived in Milagro October 4. Under
his direction we began setting up a permanent demonstration garden. It
is to be used as a future DRF training site for Ecuadorean teachers from
the nearby government experiment station. This will make it possible to
introduce the method in the most efficient way.
Mary Cusack, a volunteer from Australia who came to help with the orphans,
is also lending us a hand as we are working to get things growing before
the monsoon rains come in February. We have chosen a one-quarter acre
area at the edge of the cacao forest to be the demonstration garden. It
is visible from the road, and there is plenty of water available.
The first few days were spent laying out the garden and gathering materi-
als for the compost piles. Seed flats and seed beds have been started.
Double digging has begun (so far lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, beans,
radishes, and mustard greens have appeared). Work on the fence to com-
pletely surround the garden is progressing rapidly with the help of the
bean trees already planted in rows. They are being fortified with bam-
boo. As many varieties of trees as possible are to be included in the
garden. Mango and guava will be the large shade trees, plus citrus, avo-
cados, and many local tropical fruits. Bananas and papayas will line
the main walkways.
The Ecuadorean agricultural engineer who expressed interest in the project
last year has continued to be of help to us. After I left last year he
helped carry on the classes in nutrition and the demonstration garden
plots started by the women. This year he has offered to help us introduce
our methods officially at the experiment station. Already we have had
an informal influence there in the reduced use of pesticides and in in-
creasing the plant density.
A few hundred yards down the road from the demonstration garden is a sep-
arate piece of property that is going to be the future home of 50 orphans.
It is here that Mike and I are establishing a community agricultural
trainer program as a component in what will eventually be a complete DRF
Health Resource Center. Eight to ten children will live in small houses
scattered over the five and a half acre site. Each will have its own
garden. Most importantly, solar energy will be used for cooking and
heating water, and clivus multrum toilets will be introduced. The engi-
neer in charge of providing housing for all the government employees in
the area has already asked for plans for the toilet and intends to install
them in all future projects if ours is a success. The potential is very
exciting. Next to the lack of food, the greatest health hazard in Ecua-
dor is lack of sanitation.
Introducing new foods and farming methods on the coast of Ecuador is very
important for the future development of the country because the land there
has a great unexplored potential for supplying many of the needs of the
people. 'But it is the situation in the Andes that must be changed before
any real progress can be made in the country as a whole. The Inca Indi-
ans are starving on the land that is available for them to farm and there-
fore they are leaving, going down to the coast of Guayaquil and forming
one of the worst slums in the world. (In 1964 the Incas made up 40% of
the population. They have lost over half a million people in the last
ten years and now make up less than 25%.)
If they were able to grow enough food to feed themselves, they wouldn't
have to leave and it would be possible to start reversing the process that
will otherwise result in the destruction of their culture.
The Inca Indian Catholic priest, Fr. Carlos, with whom we work in Guaya-
quil and Milagro, still has relatives in the Andes. One of these is a
young cousin, Andres, who has just received his M.A. from an Andean agri-
cultural college (Riobamba). He is planning on coming to Santa Barbara
to study Intensive Gardening in the spring of 1977. Both Michael Pope and
I intend to take this five month course at the same time. Then with An-
dres' help, DRF would have the exciting prospect of introducing its Agri-
cultural Trainer Program in the Andes where it is most needed. We will
be cooperating with the Bishop there who is already effectively working
with the Indians.
WORKING GROUP SESSION REPORTS
Editor's Note: The participants were organized into three working
groups similar in composition. Each group was asked to answer the fol-
1. Is the French Intensive/Biodynamic Method scientifically sound?
2. What research needs to be done regarding the method?
3. What is your evaluation of the Family Food Production Proposal.
What are your recommendations concerning it?
The comments and recommendations that follow represent the report of
To establish a base line from which to work, the group first determined
that the approach indicated specifically in the proposal as the "ultimate
objective", that is "improving nutritional status", is the proper approach.
The group also felt that an important determinant of the effectiveness of
this approach is whether it is acceptable to the people with whom we are
concerned. This attitude, of course, raises several unanswered questions
regarding program development, training, implementation, and technique,
which should be settled through feedback of practitioners, research, and
First we explored some of these questions as reported in the following
capsule of a question-answer session. We then provided some recommenda-
tions for the Family Food Production Proposal.
Q. The program development and training, in present form, are adapted
to temperate climates. What is the ecological range in which this
is workable? What modifications need to be known?
A. The program is badly in need of feedback from trained technicians who
have already gone into the field. But the program is too new to have
this needed feedback.
Q. What is the framework for choice of sites, geographical?
A. Geographical considerations are advisable for selecting areas, espe-
cially where soil conditions are favorable and there is a reasonable
chance of success. After a favorable impression has been made, one
could gradually move into more difficult areas.
Q. What about storage practices and use of animals, both of which seem
to be important considerations?
A. It is agreed that these are important considerations. The applica-
tion of both is presented in training. More research is needed in
the matter of storage because of the many and varied conditions. Re-
garding animals, we need to consider them, but we need to recognize
that in some areas animals are not common.
Q. Is the trainee who is in the five month training program introduced
sufficiently to all that is necessary?
--DRF provides needed cultural and language training.
--Santa Cruz has no cultural training but trainees do seem to have
complete immersion in gardening. The student formulates his own
questions before formal presentations are made to him. Each
student develops a subject of interest and carries out a project
in that area. There is also teaching practice which serves a
dual purpose: it prepares the trainee for his future work and
it aids in his review of preparation.
--At Covelo the training is demanding and rigorous. The emphasis
is on practice of skills rather than reading and writing reports.
Q. Obviously there is a need for further cultural conditioning before
the trainee receives his or her final assignment. Is it possible
systematically to link this training to the field assignment?
A. Yes, this needs to be done and it is strongly recommended.
Q. Is ultimate management of the gardening program in a developing
country expected to be carried out by indigenous personnel?
A. Yes, by deep involvement, and as early as possible.
Q. What needs envisioned in the way of establishing continuing credi-
bility of the indigenous counterpart?
A. Steps, though perhaps cautious, should be taken to ensure his recog-
nition and possibly his certification by a responsible official arm
of the government. This will serve two purposes: needed prestige
for the individual and continuing support for his work. Without
this, the program 'could later deteriorate and fail.
In the light of Group A's discussion, the following recommendations for
further research are presented. L.I.F.E. should conduct research to:
1) determine and establish an ecological range for effective implementa-
tion of the Intensive/Biodynamic Gardening program
2) investigate methods of food preservation and storage in a wide range
of variable conditions
3) examine the need, extent, and scope of cultural and geographical
orientation at a center for further studies prior to final assignment.
Since the Family Food Production Proposal outlines four hypotheses sup-
porting the primary objective of improving nutritional status, we recommend
the following changes.
1. Substitute "methodology" for "technology" throughout the hypotheses.
2. In hypothesis 1, delete the phrase "sparing of water" because there
are some areas where this does not apply. Modify the phrase "little
or no cash input" to "minimal cash input". Change "less than 1/4 ha"
to "as little as 1/4 ha".
3. In hypothesis 2, modify "readily transferable" to "transferable" since
we cannot assume the former.
4. In hypothesis 3, change "increase their food consumption" to "increase
the nutritional quality of their diet", in keeping with the primary
objective of the proposal.
In Phase 2 of the Proposal, we recommend expanding the list of projects
being considered for survey to include two or three indigenous projects
not sponsored and directed by persons from the United States.
In Phase 3, we would like to add the Farm and Garden Project at the Uni-
versity of California, Santa Cruz, to the list of proposed training centers.
In Phase 4, we recommend two changes:
1. Increase the training period from 9 to 12 months. Trainees should be
exposed to and involved in a complete year of seasons and cycles.
2. Choose trainees who are sponsored by but not necessarily on the staff
of PVOs. The proposal provides for trainees to be "selected from
the field staffs of private voluntary organizations". The recommended
change in the proposal would, if adopted, require individual determina-
tion as to whether the trainee, upon completion of his basic work at
a training center, would need to attend the geographical orientation
center before final assignment to a program site.
In Phase 5, we recommend deleting "pre-existing".
Although some of these recommendations refer to peripheral matters, the
substance of Group A's report implies positive support for the Family
Food Production Proposal.
In considering Phase 1 of the Proposal, we discussed at great length an
appropriate name for the intensive technique we have been analyzing in
the past few days. However, due to a lack of consensus on a single most
appropriate term for this form of horticulture, we have decided to adopt
the generally accepted terminology of "The French Intensive/Biodynamic
With the exceptions of Messrs. Pierce, Crebbin, and Feedman, all members
of the group felt that this term is overly restrictive. But we could
not come up with a more suitable one.
Depending on individual site conditions, we foresee certain considerations
that will have to be dealt with within the framework of the French Intensive/
Biodynamic Approach. These are
1) food storage
2) seed supply
3) available plant nutrients
4) companion planting as pest and disease controls
5) choice of crops in relation to
6) nutrition education
7) water availability and usage
--water storage system
--field trials in arid areas
9) availability of tools
10) conservation practices
In Phase 2, we feel that the objectives of the survey and analysis as out-
lined need to be clearly defined. One objective of the survey should be
an evaluation of existing training centers as well as overseas sites. We
suggest this phase of the project receive much less attention than origi-
In Phase 3, we recommend that the training centers should be those that
have the most experience in training people in the French Intensive/
Biodynamic Approach. One training school should be located in a foreign
In Phase 4, we recommend that trainees should not be limited to Americans.
People from foreign countries should not be excluded from the program.
Trainees from PVOs should be encouraged because of their previous commit-
ment and experience with language and cultural factors. Where possible,
woman and man teams should be trained.
The period of training should be from 9 to 12 months. Nine months is a
minimum and 12 months is optimal, depending on location, training center,
environmental factors, and educational backgrounds of the individual.
Preference should be given to those trainees who will commit themselves
to more than two years service in the field.
In Phase 5, we prefer the name "Field Trial Station" to "Demonstration
One hundred thousand dollars ($100,000) seems to us to be an unrealisti-
cally low figure for this most important phase of the project.
Overall we felt that this was an excellent preliminary conceptual frame-
work for the operational plan of this project.
Group C Report
We made special efforts to refine, for purposes of discussion, a definition
of the scope of the proposed program. Prior discussion and documentation
had left unanswered certain questions bout "the system", the target popu-
lation to be served, the means of delivering services, and the size of
gardens to be developed.
An issue for continued discussion, for example, is the extent to which
chemical inputs must be avoided by field personnel. Significant philo-
sophical differences on this point exist between present practitioners of
the system and some of the agencies, programs, and disciplines represented
at the workshop. To some practitioners, the avoidance of chemicals is a
philosophical as well as a technical matter. Others suggest that if we
are promoting a family farming program, it may be necessary to accept
many current farming practices, including, in some cases, chemical use
practices (where they are reasonably well justified), while encouraging
gradual withdrawal to a purely organic-based farming practice. This is
not likely to be a problem if we are primarily talking about small gardens
as supplementary food sources only, using intensive techniques as described
during this workshop.
At the outset of our discussion, a broader question arose. What is the
scope of the delivery system eventually needed to implement the program
widely in the Third World? Some participants felt the French Intensive/
Biodynamic name and specific technique tend to limit the applicability
of the training provided under this program. Others questioned whether
the program should be implemented in a "closed" mode, as the proposal sug-
gests, or if a more "open" pattern of delivery systems might be desirable.
Other systems of intensive gardening exist and are being propagated by
PVOs, culture groups, and government agencies. An important alternative
approach is the Chinese intensive garden and the Chinese and Japanese
small mixed farming methods that are found throughout the Orient, and
even in the United States and Latin America.
Furthermore, many individuals and organizations are engaged throughout
the world in implementing in different ways the "Small Is Beautiful"
philosophy and strategy of self-reliance that are elements of the inten-
sive small gardening practice we have discussed. We also note there are
many other kinds of centers for agricultural training here and in the
Third World, plus extension services and government ministries that must
be considered in a fully "open" program of delivery systems. This con-
ference itself is a delivery system element to the extent that services
and ideas may be propagated from here by participants and their insti-
In view of all these related factors, it was recognized that the group of
practitioners represented here have a sincere interest in service but
their numbers and resources are limited, as is the amount of Third World
experience with the "French Intensive/Biodynamic" system of cultivation.
We concluded that it is practical at present that the stated objectives
and scope of the proposal are distinctly limited. A way of clarifying
this limitation is to stress that the program is directed toward supple-
mentary food production in small intensive gardens within the home environ-
ment -- especially emphasizing the need for supplementary vitamins, min-
erals, and protein. The concept of the "kitchen garden" was considered
appropriate but it was agreed that the term itself should be avoided be-
cause of the implication that the work should thus be done by the house-
There are side benefits of explicitly limiting the scope of the project,
and avoiding any suggestion of a production-oriented activity.
1. The program can be non-threatening to existing agricultural businesses,
markets, suppliers, and government agencies. It should have rela-
tive freedom to maintain a low profile.
2. Agricultural scientists in the United States and in other countries
may be more willing (for reasons of professional credibility) to
participate in a study of a novel supplementary food program than
in an "unconventional" production system.
3. Small changes, such as decreases in Vitamin A deficiency, may be
creditable as successes. Small interventions, such as container
plants or "handkerchief gardens", may in some cases be seen as ade-
quate program objectives.
4. No strong distinction need be made between rural and urban areas as
suitable target areas; clients do not have to be "farmers".
5. At least at the outset of the program, minimum-scale, household-
oriented gardening will allow a maximum of family attention to be
given to the care of individual plants. This will tend to minimize
the need for care in selecting of sites for their presumed suita-
bility of soil, climate, and other characteristics.
6. Numerous other questions we might have about agricultural and eco-
systemic consequences of even the proposed one-fourth acre family farm
program can likely be deferred until further experience is gained in-
country with cultural and technical factors.
7. Problems of the need for adaptive change in the system will be mini-
mized by limiting the scale of the gardens it will undertake to de-
In conclusion, we agreed that it is appropriate that the program proceed
as originally proposed, with limited objectives that will not over-
extend the limited existing resource base of practitioners, recognizing,
nevertheless, the vast scale of need, and a wide variety of related paral-
lel and future opportunities for delivery of the system or for technical
or social components of it. To improve the potential success of the pro-
gram in any given community, we suggested that at the outset the size of
gardens be limited to small ones suitable for supplying needed vitamins
and minerals rather than attempting, generally, to supply caloric and full
protein needs as well.
We urged that in implementing the program, maximum attention be given in
every situation to the need for adaptive change in the system and the need
for working closely with local traditions and environmental constraints,
while remaining open to communication with existing government agencies
and other indigenous groups and enterprises. Much of this adapta-
tion and linkage must, of course, be left to the field staff themselves.
The quality of training given may be measurable in how well the trainees
are able to adapt to local conditions.
Special attention should be given to resolving the problem of long-term
need for supplementation of organic matter to the garden and to the role
and status of women, particularly of indigenous women, in the program.
1. On-site input-output analysis to be done at the training sites and
the field sites.
The purpose of the input-output analysis will be to determine the
quantities of food people can produce on small parcels using in-
tensive gardening methods. We suggest that trainees could be
responsible for recording the input-output data.
2. Microbial studies of the soils subjected to the intensive gardening
It was suggested that biology or ecology departments of the Univer-
sity of California, Santa Barbar4 Santa Cruz, and other universi-
ties or land grant agricultural colleges should conduct this research.
3. Documentation and research related to other intensive gardening tech-
4. Companion planting research.
Explanation of the apparent affinities and disaffinities among
plants, families, and individual species.
Agricultural College Research
1. Research means of maximizing nutritive outputs from a small scale
garden. Also explore methods of increasing income from family garden
2. Research variations in quality of compost.
3. Research preventive pest controls such as natural insectaries, trap
4. Investigate multi-story agricultural systems in tropical climates.
5. Investigate the nutritive value of crops raised according to intensive
gardening methods against other methods.
Regular course. 10 to 12 months. We consider that 10 to 12 months
is required to prepare a trainer or trainers in all aspects of inten-
sive family food production. Trainees must have sufficient background
training at college level and with field experience. Courses should be
open to all qualified and interested people, both from developing and