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March 27-29, 2000 GROW BIOINTENSIVE conference on the U.C. Davis campus
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Biosphere II
Ed Glenn

Ed Glenn is a professor at the University of Arizona Environmental Research Laboratory. He worked on the food-production system for Biosphere II and is now working on the domestication of halophytes as seawater crops for coastal deserts. He heads a project studying ocean plant life in order to see what may happen to our own oceans in the face of global climate change.

Glenn was hired to be in charge of setting up a food-growing system for Biosphere II, an experiment some years back in which a group of people tried to create and live in a self-sustaining system within an enclosed area. He learned about the work of Ecology Action and hired Peter Donelan, an Ecology Action apprentice, to teach them about GROW BIOINTENSIVE growing.

The GROW BIOINTENSIVE food-growing part of the project worked well in tests before the Biosphere II program officially began. However, the group later decided to add an unsustainable amount of compost to the soil - a 10-year supply - causing the program to fail during its second year. The compost was not thoroughly decomposed, and Biosphere II filled up with carbon dioxide.

Glenn said that working with the group was a most enjoyable experience. In addition, everything was recycled. Discovering How to Grow More Vegetables by John Jeavons was an eye-opening experience for him. It was very useful in the Biosphere II design and pilot project work as well as work he has done since.

Biosphereans experiment with raising their own food.
A model for their future "space home".

[Note: Despite the Biosphere II's challenges, the people in it, using techniques based in part on those used by Ecology Action, were able to raise about 83% of their low-calorie diet during a two-year period within a "closed system" on approximately 2,957 square feet (274 square meters) per person. This experience indirectly demonstrated that a complete year's diet for just one person could be raised on the equivalent of 3,562 square feet (330 square meters).]


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