The work has always been worthwhile despite the continuing challenge of attracting strong, ongoing support. The biggest single asset to this undertaking is John Jeavons’s unfailing stamina and dedication. Over and over, when we all ask, “Can it work?” he answers, “How are we going to make it work?” It is becoming increasingly clear that GROW BIOINTENSIVE Sustainable Mini-Farming will be an important part of the solution to starvation and malnutrition, dwindling energy supplies, unemployment, and exhaustion and loss of arable land, if the social and political challenges can be met.
met. After forty years of testing, GROW BIOINTENSIVE food-raising has produced amazing bene2ts. Yields can average 2 to 6 times those of U.S. agriculture, and a few range up to 31 times higher—a plus at a time of peak food. But there’s still more to learn; for example, we are still working to develop an optimally healthy soil system.
Compost and calorie crops present the most challenges because they are crucial in meeting the nutritional needs of people and the soil. Experiments include alfalfa, fava beans, wheat, oats, cardoon, and comfrey. So far our yields are from one to 2ve times the U.S. average for these crops. Water use is well below that of commercial agriculture per pound of food produced, and is about 33% to 12% that of conventional techniques per unit of land area.
This is especially important in a world that has reached a point of peak water. Energy expenditure, expressed in kilocalories of input, is 6% to 1% of that used by commercial agriculture, and this helps meet the challenge of peak oil. The human body is still more e=cient than any machine we have been able to invent.
Several factors contradict the popular conception that this is a labor-intensive method. Using hand tools may seem to be more work, but the yields more than compensate. Even at 50¢ a pound wholesale, zucchini can bring as much as $18 to $32 per hour depending on the harvest timing because it is easy to grow, maintain,