Start Planting a Biointensive Future for Your Garden!

Ecology Action
5798 Ridgewood Road
Willits, CA 95490

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Learn With Us!

  • Site
  • 3-Day
  • Teacher
  • Teacher
  • Internships and


Educational Garden Tours are given from two to four times a year at the Willits Mini-Farm Research Garden.They are an opportunity forinterested people to see the effectiveness of GROW BIOINTENSIVE sustainable mini-farming. Mini-classes are also given during the tour, illustrating some of the components of GROW BIOINTENSIVE.


(For more information on tour dates and taking a tour, see the Events page.)


3dayThree-Day Workshops are given twice a year in Willits, California. The workshop is an intensive in-depth study of GROW BIOINTENSIVE sustainable mini-farming, based on our research since 1972. The program consists of lecture, discussion and demonstration, and includes a full range of information on Sustainability and Efficient Resource Use, Crops and Diet, Fertilization, Compost and Compost Crops, Soil Preparation and Preservation, Seed Propagation, and Income, as well as the perspective to tie all these together. Most of the workshop is lecture and classroom work with one afternoon devoted to demonstrations in the Research Garden. Our classes and workshops encourage farmers and gardeners from many corners of the globe to find solutions appropriate to their own context.

(For more information on workshop dates and signing up for a workshop, see the Events page.)

Teacher TrainingTeachers

Basic-Level Teacher Training is for those interested principally in teaching others the basic techniques of GROW BIOINTENSIVE. Prerequisites for taking this training include having taken a Three-Day Workshop from a qualified teacher; having grown a GROW BIOINTENSIVE garden of 300-500 square feet, for at least one year following the above workshop, and spending at least one year testing diet crops and compost crops; building and using compost, and keeping records of diet and compost crops. Candidates must also have a thorough understanding of Ecology Action publications.

(For more information see Booklet #30, “GROW BIOINTENSIVE Sustainable Mini-Farming Teacher Certification Program.”)

Teacher Certification

Basic-Level Teacher Certification: An individual who wishes to be certified as a GROW BIOINTENSIVE teacher at the basic level must first have taken the three-day Teacher Training Workshop (see Events for scheduling). There are other requirements for certification once this workshop is completed.

(For more information see Booklet #30, “GROW BIOINTENSIVE Sustainable Mini-Farming Teacher Certification Program.”)

Booklet #30 is also available in Spanish, as a free PDF. Click here to download.

After you have read Booklet #30, if you want to attend the workshop, please write for further details.

Internships and Apprenticeships

InternshipsInternships and Apprenticeships

Overall Program Perspective

Brief Site Descriptions

The Internship Program

The Apprenticeship Program

Overall Intern/Apprentice Educational Program Perspective

Ecology Action's educational goal in Willits is to create a GROW BIOINTENSIVE learning community of staff and local volunteers.

The purpose of the Internship Programs is to provide the Intern with a thorough understanding of GROW BIOINTENSIVE sustainable mini-farming so the Intern is able to apply and teach the method at a beginning and intermediate level. Interns will go to classes, study, and gain practical experience in the garden. Interns are generally people who are already involved in a GROW BIOINTENSIVE project or who will be involved in one on their return home.

The purposes of the Apprenticeship Program are to better enable the apprentice to learn in depth about GROW BIOINTENSIVE sustainable mini-farming and to understand the most effective and sustainable farming practices for a given situation, as well as to train teachers and program and project staff. This three-year commitment requires energy, responsibility and self-motivation. An apprentice will study and work full-time under the guidance of Ecology Action staff and participate in research and education activities within and outside of the garden.

The Ecology Action Internship and Apprenticeship programs utilize two different training sites in Willits for expanded learning possibilities through contrasts and similarities. Apprentices and Interns assigned to one site rotate to work at the other site periodically so the staff and students can benefit from each other's perspectives and experiences as well as the varied growing conditions.

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Brief Site Descriptions

  • Ecology Action's Common Ground Research Garden at The Jeavons Center

    This training site is at Ecology Action's World Headquarters in Willits, California. The setting is rural and rustic. The Ecology Action mini-farm provides a demonstration of what is possible when conditions are less than optimal. The one-third-acre mini-farm/garden is located on a 20-acre site that offers a challenging soil situation on a mountainside slope. Here, different cultivars, nutrient and compost amounts, crop spacing, and other practices are tested. The soil at this site is rated fair for grazing and has a level of magnesium, nickel, and other minerals that would normally prevent the growing of crops. In addition, it has cooler temperatures and varied mini-climates within its growing area. GROW BIOINTENSIVE practices are buffering these limitations, and food is being grown (although lower-than-normal GROW BIOINTENSIVE yields were initially and are often still obtained). Staff and students learn more under these conditions, since a deeper understanding is required to produce good yields and to understand what is happening.

    Ground was broken for the Biointensive research garden in 1982. It took 14 years of soil improvement (from 1982 to 1995) to develop a soil system that produces healthy plants and satisfactory yields at this location. Since 1995, yields have been slowly increasing, and the amount of purchased nutrients in organic fertilizer form has been decreasing. This site is a good training and operating location for the development of GROW BIOINTENSIVE technical staff, who also have the major responsibility for teaching trainers and other students. The carefully structured training program at this site involves considerable research detail, with an emphasis on learning how and why things work.

  • Victory Gardens for Peace (VGfP)

The Victory Gardens for Peace (VGfP) site in Mendocino, California is situated on the grounds of the Stanford Inn, an eco-resort nestled on the cliffs overlooking the confluence of the Big River and the Pacific Ocean. Our program is focused on: improving the soil and teaching the GROW BIOINTENSIVE method and developing the GROW BIOINTENSIVE model for our coastal, cool, foggy climate. There are many challenges at the site that create opportunities to demonstrate practical and effective ways of maximizing resources and managing fertility. There is an inherently good soil here, but it underwent years of compaction as a horse paddock. We are working to build soil structure and fertility to restore the soil health. We experiment with growing complete diets and different crop varieties to find which are best suited to this unique growing climate. Our internships and classes are unique and offer a great experience in water conservation, soil fertility management and food raising through the GROW BIOINTENSIVE method.

  • Golden Rule Community Garden
  • NOTE: This site is not hosting interns in 2019

    This training site is a joint program with the Golden Rule Community near Willits. The Golden Rule Community (GR) mini-farm/garden is located on 4,000+ acres and offers a good soil situation on flat terrain and a somewhat less structured training program. The setting is rural. This site adopted Biointensive cultivation in 2001. GR interns spend approximately half of their time growing food Biointensively (see footnote 3 on p. vi of How to Grow More Vegetables, 7th ed.) for the Golden Rule Community dining hall (the Production Mini-Farm/Garden). The other half of their time is devoted to growing food for their own and the Community's consumption using GROW BIOINTENSIVE (GB) practices and following Ecology Action's complete Annual Diet Plans in the GR GB Research Mini-Farm/Garden. This program has a Mini-Farm Manager, and Field Coordinator(s) for the Biointensive Production Mini-Farm/Garden and for the GROW BIOINTENSIVE Research Mini-Farm/Garden. The soil at this site is better and more uniform and allows plants to grow much more easily and higher yields to be obtained. The climate provides slightly warmer temperatures for growing. The Golden Rule mini-farm demonstrates what is possible using GROW BIOINTENSIVE under good conditions. It is beneficial for the training of trainers and staff for projects focusing on production mini-farming and development mini-farming in this and other countries.


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The Internship Program

Ecology Action provides an 8-month Internship Program generally takes place from mid-February until November and a 2-, 4-, or 6-month Internship Program, which generally takes place from June through July/October/November. Interns attend classes that cover the full range of GROW BIOINTENSIVE concepts and techniques with hands-on learning of skills and follow-up. Everyone works on and presents a detailed mini-farm design project. An applicant may be asked to attend a tour and/or a Three-Day Workshop before consideration. These Internships are for service-minded people interested in practical garden research and teaching others. The Internship materials indicate training expenses, and scholarships of varying amounts are sometimes available.

Note that Ecology Action is a non-profit organization, not a market farm. If you are looking for experience in production and marketing on an organic farm, check out WWOOF, ATTRA, and

For more information, or to apply to join one of our internship programs, click one of the links above.

The Apprenticeship Program

ApprenticeshipsEcology Action's Apprenticeship Program involves a three-year commitment to in-depth learning of the GROW BIOINTENSIVE method in preparation for teaching and supporting the work of Ecology Action. The first year includes the formal teaching and mini-farm design project described in under the 8-month Internship Program. A detailed description of the Apprenticeship Program is found in Ecology Action's GROW BIOINTENSIVESM Apprentice Opportunities booklet which you can download in PDF format (1.5 MB).

Briefly, the steps to becoming an apprentice are:

  1. Read the basic Ecology Action publications.

    (The Sustainable Vegetable Garden, How to Grow More Vegetables, The Backyard Homestead, and Booklets #0, #9, #14, #19, #21).

  2. Attend one of Ecology Action's Three-Day Workshops (see the Events section on this web site).

  3. Submit an application as described in GROW BIOINTENSIVESM Apprentice Opportunities Booklet (download in PDF format (1.5 MB).

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