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November 2005: News

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Grow Biointensive 2005 Highlights

Ecology Action Headquarters

Sasha Paradis, from New York, begins a 3-year apprenticeship at Golden Rule in April, while David Basile completes his apprenticeship in August. Salvador Diaz, from Mexico, and Fausto Moran, from Ecuador, are 6-month apprentices at the Mini-Farm. Alvaro Hidalgo, a student from EARTH University in Costa Rica, takes his 3-month field training as an intern at Golden Rule, and Yesica Cusiyupanqui from Peru begins a 5-month internship there in November. We give 2 educational garden tours during the summer and Three-Day Workshops in March and November. Mary Barsony and Robin Mankey, both from the San Francisco Bay Area, attend a multi-day tutorial in July, an alternative this year to the Basic-Level Teachers Workshop. EA continues to work with ECOPOL to plan a conference and workshops in Costa Rica that have the potential to impact the whole Latin American continent.

EA as a Resource: Anna Lappe interviews John Jeavons about sustainable diets for a new book she is writing. * Willits Economic LocaLization, a group devoted to creating a sustainable local economy, is consulting with us about sustainable local food production. John Jeavons makes a presentation to the group in April. * The City of Oakland, California, contacts EA for advice about helping its people grow much of their vegetables and soft fruits.* The largest strawberry grower in California contacts EA about training an intern from Angola. * Julian Darley, founder of the Post Carbon Institute, interviews and videotapes John Jeavons. * A volunteer at an orphanage in India emails to explore sources of information about Biointensive for training the children. * A farmer in Sweden, wanting to start using Biointensive, emails for information.

Networking, Website: We develop a Global Networking Chart which graphically illustrates the reach of EA initiatives over the years. We collect email addresses of all EA teachers on the chart so that they may network with each other. * We are the center of an email correspondence between a colleague and a former apprentice, trying to determine how to extrapolate GROW BIOINTENSIVE production to a larger area. * We are upgrading our website to make it more informative and accessible. We are in the process of completing a contact list to make it available online.

EA Colleagues

  • Steve Moore, in Pennsylvania, teaches workshops throughout the year, including ones to learn how to grow using Biointensive in a passive solar greenhouse. Steve also continues to develop information on energy efficiency.
  • Bi-sek Hsiao spends 6 weeks at the Biointensive projects in Ecuador, teaching ADYS staff and also training people at the Amazonian project in organic rice production and seed production.
  • Calvin Bey, in Arkansas, teaches a workshop for 25 people.

ECOPOL (Mexico)
ECOPOL is becoming well-known and gaining credibility on many levels. It sponsors a one-day forum at the University of Chapingo with the purpose of giving other growing options to small-scale farmers and working towards a national Biointensive network. 220 people attend. Director Juan Manuel Martinez is requested by state authorities to teach six 3-day courses in Colima state, for a total of 180 people. Juan is invited in May to make a presentation at a conference in Aguascalientes state, and as a result is invited to give workshops in 3 other Mexican states. He finds that many people in Aguascalientes have been trained by Patricia Munoz, who received training at the Willits Mini-Farm in 1997. Juan travels to Ecuador where he meets with representatives from 2 UN organizations and one from the Ecuadorian government, all of whom offer support for the Biointensive projects there. On the same trip he goes to Costa Rica to continue negotiations for the conference and workshops planned for 2006 at EARTH University. Juan returns to Costa Rica in August to help support the potential funding process for the conference and spends the rest of the year traveling to Colombia, Venezuela, and Panama to make contacts for GROW BIOINTENSIVE and for the conference.

Manor House Agricultural Centre

MH continues the upgrading of its facilities and grounds to attract more 2-year students and workshops and to change the layout of the site from the prep school it was formerly to reflect the values of its current use as a sustainable agricultural training center. Other goals are to better use the land to its full potential, to change the location of the garden and other farm facilities for them to be better incorporated into the Centre activities, and, overall, to demonstrate sustainable production. The library is being remodeled to become a community resource center. MH staff is working with 7 partner organizations on a new extension program for 16 community groups. Groups have been identified and their representatives have attended workshops at the Centre to learn about Biointensive agriculture and other food-related subjects. The trained groups are being followed up in their communities to offer further advice, monitor their progress and help them establish income-generating projects. Workshops held by Boone Hallberg, maize expert from Oaxaca, Mexico, help defeat the use of GMOs in Kenya.

Common Ground Project
Director Joshua Machinga establishes a new mini-ag center in western Kenya, near Uganda, to work with farmers in 6 locations. A weekly workshop is held for the farmers for 4 months to encourage their assessment of their own needs. Students in the 5th grade at Pathfinder Academy, run by Joshua and his wife, give Biointensive training to a women's self-help group composed mainly of AIDS widows.

Biointensive for Russia Director Carol Vesecky leads a 17-day culture/eco-ag tour to western Russia where they visit Biointensive gardens, education centers and research gardens in the Chernobyl irradiated zone. The Viola organization, headquartered in the irradiated zone, is continuing its research on how GROW BIOINTENSIVE techniques reduce the amount of radionuclides taken up by produce. In September Viola members tour irradiated zones in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, to test harvested vegetables using a mobile laboratory. The purpose is to map areas contaminated by radiation to present proof at conferences being planned for the upcoming 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl accident that produce grown in these areas is still dangerously contaminated.

Fernando Pia, Director of CIESA, continues with a full schedule of teaching workshops and apprentices, as well as growing for market. In March he teaches a 3-day workshop in Pirque, Chile, at the first Agroecological high school in Chile. In April Fernando teaches a 2-day workshop at the Agronomic University of Santa Cruz de la Sierra in Bolivia for 27 people, 70% of them agronomic engineers working in rural extension programs in different parts of Bolivia. Also in April, he teaches a 5-day workshop at CIESA. One of the participants, who teaches organic gardening to poor women in Neuquen, stated: “This kind of information was something that I was looking for a long time.”

Naqibullah Salik develops a Biointensive demonstration farm on Ministry of Agriculture land in Kabul. He researches the difference between crops grown with Biointensive and those with traditional methods and finds Biointensive production much greater. Devon Pattillo spends 6 weeks in Afghanistan, advising the Kabul project and also one developing in Lalander, a village south of Kabul.



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