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May 2007: News

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Alex Kachan, an Israeli who is currently at the Maharishi University of Management in Iowa, asked recently if we would send him Ecology Action brochures and other materials for the Eco-Fair that will take place at the university in May. After receiving the materials he wrote thanking us and sending more information about what he is doing. He has been invited to give a 5-hour course on GROW BIOINTENSIVE during a permaculture and sustainability course. “As a general background, last month I’ve become an official faculty member at Maharishi (Department of Vedic Science, instructor of the Science of Creative Intelligence course). The course I’m helping to teach is offered only 3 times a year so the rest of the time I’ve asked for and now am working at the university’s organic farm, which has existed for the last 2 years and during summer and fall produces about 80%-90% of the vegetables for our cafeteria. As far as I know, we are the leading university in supplying itself such a large amount of its vegetables, and of course all is organic (USDA-approved). Of course it’s conventional organic, but I’m learning a lot, and over time I’m planning to transform our farm to be double-dug, tractor- and rototiller-free, and to incorporate the rest of GB principles.”


In February John Jeavons gave a presentation and a one-day workshop in Hawaii. These are some of the facts he learned about Hawaiian agriculture before going there:

  • Hawaii was food self-sufficient until 1930—in fact it exported wheat and flour to California during the Gold Rush.
  • Today, the state imports about 90% of its food. Most chain supermarkets import all their fruits and vegetables.
  • Only 6% of land in Hawaii is fee simple (and costs over $100,000 an acre.) The other 94% is owned by federal, state, county and large landowners with 5,000 or more acres. On the Island of Hawaii around 365,000 acres are owned by Kamehameha schools, which lease the land to farmers for 35 years.
  • The average Hawaiian farm size is 5 acres, and there are 5,500 farms in the state.
  • Hawaii’s food security is particularly vulnerable because of the distance to ship food there, high shipping costs and the need for off-island fertilizers.
  • Home food production is not viewed by the state as “agriculture.” There are few opportunities to learn gardening skills and folks working 2 to 3 jobs to make ends meet often do not have much time to raise food. There are only a few tropical gardening seed companies easily accessible.
  • Farmers markets are just beginning. There are no community gardens on Hawaii Island and only a few small school garden initiatives. There are also very few home gardens.

This is the background of teaching GROW BIOINTENSIVE (GB) in Hawaii. GB makes a return to local food self-sufficiency more possible, being able to produce high yields using just local resources. If properly used, GB has the capacity to grow all the food for Hawaiian residents and tourists on suitable land with enough food left over to export. GB can be used for all types of crops by small and large growers as well as backyard gardeners. GB’s focus on growing compost crops—which also produce calories to eat—for sustainable soil fertility is similar to traditional Hawaiian farming three hundred years ago which had a strong emphasis on sustainability and penalties for not farming in a way that nourished the soil and society.



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