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Do we want a bio-intensive forum?

 
R Ranson
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I've seen several people mention bio-intensive growing around the site, but I know very little about it. Is there enough interest to have a specific forum for it in the Growies section?

Can you recommend any books or websites I could read to become familiar with this method?
 
Honor Marie
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John Jeavons, "How to Grow More Vegetables (than you ever thought possible on less land than you can imagine)"

I found his book very useful. A lot of his techniques are also permaculture techniques, but focused around annual beds rather than a food forest.
 
Travis Schultz
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The term Bio-Intensive was coined (and copyrighted) by John Jeavons. He has several books and a series of videos on youtube. He started Ecology Action which is based out of Willits CA. Ecology Action have been consistently producing more pounds of food on small spaces than any other operation around the world, and they are doing it in several climates.

They have proven that you can produce every calorie and vitamin needed for the entire year on 4k sq ft. That is a 10th of an acre.. Some test plots have become so productive that they are producing enough grain on 100 sq ft to make a loaf of bread every week for the entire year!

The book you should buy of his is called "how to grow more vegetables: and fruits, nuts, herbs, berries, etc etc than you ever thought possible on less land than you can imagine". Type in how to grow more to Amazon and you will find it.

Although I have left some of his methods out of my garden after a couple years of practicing. Just because they didnt fit in my situation. It does not have to be followed to a T. BUT, anyone will get some awesome info from reading the book. Plus by doing deep bed prep like they do, you can plant everything much closer together than the "row" spacing provided on seed packets.

Also, you can produce enough food for 2 people on the same space if you sacrifice compost crops for more grains and vegetables by instead wild harvesting your compost materials elsewhere. So if I could net 7k on 4000sq ft my first year, if I was using a full acre that is 70k net profit if I had the free labor available to pick and sell everything. I do not see that as a reality for myself because i will not have tons of free labor and such, but thats where blending the bio-intensive with permaculture, and also korean natural farming, could potentially set up an amazingly lucrative small space system for a family to run.

I am a bio-intensive farmer, and this is my own experience and knowledge on the subject.

There used to be a Bio-Intensive forum here, but it was removed.
 
paul wheaton
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Burra Maluca
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Travis Schulert wrote:There used to be a Bio-Intensive forum here, but it was removed.


We've never had a bio-intensive forum here. We have a biodynamic forum, which sometimes has threads in about bio-intensive when people mis-read it.

But, more to the point, do you think there is enough to say about the subject for it to be worth having a forum devoted to it?
 
paul wheaton
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I like the idea of what it can do for our SEO.
 
Travis Schultz
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Burra Maluca wrote:
Travis Schulert wrote:There used to be a Bio-Intensive forum here, but it was removed.


We've never had a bio-intensive forum here. We have a biodynamic forum, which sometimes has threads in about bio-intensive when people mis-read it.

But, more to the point, do you think there is enough to say about the subject for it to be worth having a forum devoted to it?


Well maybe my memory is all messed up, I could swear I remember a bio-intensive forum but you would all know better than myself.

And as far as there being enough content for its own forum?? I wouldnt think so. Thats like starting a forum for the Perma-Dynamic, and the perma-intensive, etc etc. Too many subjects can be confusing to the people new to the site, and maybe counter-intuitive to the overall spread of natural farming.

I was never saying we need a bio-intensive forum, but any topics that would fall into that category could just be placed in multiple subjects anyway.

Bio-Intensive is a great way for the small lot farmer to make a lot more money, and be able to turn a profit the first year. Which to me was HUGE while I wait for my perennials to establish.
 
Travis Schultz
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And hey, if Paul says its good, I will do my part to fill it with as many topics and posts as possible. I started as a bio-intensive farmer first, and am now shifting into permaculture, so I have a bit of the pros and cons to share with others if they are indeed interested.
 
John Polk
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Bill Mollison once said "Keep out of the bush. It's doing just fine without us."
He wanted to emphasize growing in smaller spaces.
Spaces that were inhabited by people, not 'natural settings'.

For every person here with 5+ acres, there are probably 100's here with urban homes.
Bio-Intensive (following permies practices) is a great way to cater to those with city lots.

I think that a Bio-Intensive forum would help many of our current users increase production.
It would also attract many more growers to this site:
Users that we can inspire to do their growing in a more earth/people friendly manner.
Increasing the growth of permaculture into new territories - the cities, where the vast majority live.

I see it as a Win/Win.


 
Burra Maluca
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Maybe tweak the title a little - biointensive and growing in small spaces, or, um, let's brainstorm. My brain has packed in for the night...
 
Kyrt Ryder
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Burra Maluca wrote:Maybe tweak the title a little - biointensive and growing in small spaces, or, um, let's brainstorm. My brain has packed in for the night...

Tight Space Gardening?
 
Travis Schultz
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High Yield/Small Space. Super productive lot management. I like "tight space gardening". Urban intensive/Bio-intensive.
 
Travis Schultz
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paul wheaton
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I like biointensive all by itself. And we can then make notes to go with the forum name plus we can add a richer description with the forum itself.
 
Jamie Chevalier
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Three things about biointensive that would be relevant and helpful to permies folks:
1) It has a 40- year track record of feeding people in the poorest countries on earth. One of John Jeavons interns had been a star athlete in his native Kenya. He could have gone to the Olympics and had a professional career. But he couldn't get enough food to be in athletic training. He decided instead to learn how to raise more food for his entire village. I would suggest checking out this website and watching their video here.
2)It takes up so little space that there is more room for fruit trees, perennials, chickens, and so on. As in nature, annuals can be the first stage in succession for a forest garden.
3)It is based on carbon cycling, rather than the N-P-K based, nitrogen-cycle approach of most vegetable garden publications.

Jeavons and Ecology Action also started the first heirloom seed company in the US, Bountiful Gardens, back when nobody knew the word. They have been saying since 1982 that local adaptaion made possible by saving open-pollinated seeds would be our best defense against pests, diseases, and changes in climatic conditions. Back in 1982, that was just not on people's radar.
 
Tyler Ludens
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i've been spamming the board for years with Biointensive stuff, so yay Biointensive forum!
 
R Ranson
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Wow! This is a much more e exciting topic than I imagined. Thank-you everyone for your thoughtful replies. I can't wait to read the books.

I have to visit the vet today, but with luck I can make the forum this evening. When I do, can I have some volunteers to create new threads for it. I'll be adding old threads as well, but it sure is nice to have some brand spanking new threads to celibate the new forum.
 
R Ranson
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We now have a shiny new biointensive forum. Please help me fill it up.

Also, can you give me some keywords I can use to search for old threads that are relevant to this topic? I'm really looking forward to learning more about it.

edit to add: should it be biointensive or Bio-Intensive? Did my dyslexia spell this right?
 
Tyler Ludens
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Biointensive: http://www.growbiointensive.org/

It looks like a lot of the biointensive discussions reference the book One Circle so you might want to include those threads.
 
paul wheaton
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Go ahead and use the word for now. If we get any grief about it we will go from there.
 
Travis Schultz
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Hell yeah man. Love where this went in such short notice.

His copyright is on the term Grow Biointensive. So just biointensive should not be an issue. Skimmed through the book and website.

I can put several of my posts in the new thread, ill make many more on the subject.

He does suggest everyone start out with a quality soil test and use whatever npk organic amendments you can to correct it for the first several years until you can cycle nutes better.


Key words are double digging, offset spacing, bountiful gardens, all i can think of...
 
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I think so long as we are plugging Jeavons, and Ecology Action, and other branches of the Jeavon's tree, I doubt that their will be issues. That said, if there are, we can try some other variant like High Yield/Small Area.
\
I personally used a rotovator pulled behind a tractor instead of digging by hand, but then shaped the beds by hand/shovel, on contours, and they are, I think, a bit deeper than Jeavons' beds, and are super productive. I'm going more the E. Hazelip route, thereafter.

I did read his book back in the early 90's. It's worth reading.
 
Jamie Chevalier
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Additional keywords: Alan Chadwick, John Seymour, French Intensive, raised beds, potager,

Some background and a suggestion for future conversations:
The French potager tradition and the market gardeners of Paris in the 19th century were the inspiration for it all. The little market gardens around Paris supplied the city with huge amounts of fresh vegetables year-round--more per capita than we eat today by a long shot--and were able to export some as far as England.They got up to 8 crops a year from a given space--and Paris is at the latitude of Montreal. Chinese gardeners had a similar intensive method, documented in Farmers of Forty Centuries by King, and popularized in the seventies by Peter Chan.

Alan Chadwick was an English gardening genius, Shakespearean actor, and inspiring teacher who developed a synthesis of the 19th century French Intensive methods with some of Steiner's Biodynamic ideas. He turned a totally barren hillside at the then-new University of Calif Santa Cruz into a lush garden that fed the school. In the late sixties, John Jeavons was a systems analyst obsessed with the tragedy of world hunger. Populations were exploding worldwide and it was becoming apparent that soil loss was starting to compromise our ability to feed people. Jeavons heard Chadwick speak and realized that fertility and productivity could spiral up as well as down, and that the key was carbon cycling in humus. He wrote How to Grow More Vegetables...to bring this insight to a wider audience. Jeavons goal was a step-by-step system simple enough to teach to illiterates, bored suburbanites, and even via pamphlets dropped out of airplanes in remote poverty-stricken areas. Central to his vision is not only the intensive cultivation but the decentralized scale. If the green revolution wanted to feed the world, Jeavons wanted the world's families to be able to feed themselves. One of his main tenets has been growing and saving open-pollinated seeds for local adaptation and self-sufficiency.

John Seymour was a British farmer and writer who homesteaded in England and Wales. He was of an older generation, taught by the old cottagers who grew up in an almost cashless economy. In middle age, he found his knowledge and commitment to subsistence farming was suddenly appreciated by young back-to-the-landers, and he wrote several books covering homestead skills all the way from gardening and doctoring animals to making parsnip wine. He read an early edition of Jeavons' book and was skeptical of the yields it claimed. So he went to California to see for himself. Convinced, he converted his own garden to biointensive. The Self-Sufficient Gardener was written as he was changing over. It is the best book I know of on gardening in a maritime climate.

Prior to Jeavons' book pretty much all vegetable gardens in the US and England were in rows at wide spacings with paths between every row, as if a tractor would be going through. Beds were used only for flowers and by old-fashioned Chinese gardeners. When you see beds of any sort used for vegetables, you are seeing the French Intensive/Chadwick/Jeavons legacy. Seymour's contribution was to embed the intensive garden in a complete subsistence homestead. In his book The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It he has plans for 1-acre, 5-acre and 10-acre parcels, each with garden, orchard, and appropriate livestock. Present-day homesteaders might like to read his discussion of the pros and cons of buying some hay and grain in order to gain more meat, income, and manure. He also has a very nuanced approach to vegetables, noting their individual needs and capabilities where Jeavons sticks to a single cultural method. Likewise, Jeavons does not include animals because he is trying to demonstrate a method that can bootstrap a family up from nothing but seed and a tiny piece of land. Trying to grow all of one's needed calories on a small parcel requires the space-efficiency of plant foods.

A very useful addition to the conversation on plant-based intensive gardening has just been published by Will Bonsall, who has been feeding his family on what he grows in Maine for decades now. He doesn't use the classic biointensive method, but his veganic farm is similar in style and intent. His use of forest and grassland to subsidize the fertility of his gardens should spark some controversy, and it would be great to see soil tests to document fertility levels and humus trends in his woodlot as well as his gardens. Jeavons feels that robbing any other piece of land near or far may be unavoidable at first but can't be sustained in the long term, which is why he concentrates on a fairly strict accounting of carbon. It can get kind of finicky in the details and documentation, but I think that carbon flow can be an important topic for this thread and for ongoing grassroots research.
 
R Ranson
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This is great stuff guys.

While I'm looking around permies.com for biointensive relevent threads, I keep coming across simular topics in the biodynamic forum.

These words look so simular to my pre-coffee brain. Could anyone help me understand the difference? I know biodynamic in it's general sense, but the uses here seems to be more specific.
 
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R Ranson wrote:This is great stuff guys.

While I'm looking around permies.com for biointensive relevent threads, I keep coming across simular topics in the biodynamic forum.

These words look so simular to my pre-coffee brain. Could anyone help me understand the difference? I know biodynamic in it's general sense, but the uses here seems to be more specific.


Here you go.

Quick Breakdown of Bio-Intensive Practice.

How that is set apart from Bio-Dynamic? Bio-Dynamic relies heavily on "preparations". These are various herbs or mixtures of herbs buried in cow dung pits, or cow horns, or sown up in the stomach of a bovine animal and buried. All of these are done at very specific times of the year and times of the day, then dug up at specific times of the year and the humus rich material that comes out is then mixed in small amounts with water and stirred into a vortex for 1 hour, by hand. Then you use foliage of certain plants as a paint brush and you dip it in your bucket of vortex compost tea and you throw the water in a spiral (vortex) over your garden.

Most of the Bio-Dynamic preparations I have tried and experimented with, but without much difference in growth and yield. Not saying that it doesnt work, indeed it does when all the planets align and someone does every step at exactly the right time, I simply am not there yet, and I tend to shy away from any system that simply does not work unless you take every single last step in completing the regiment some other person created many decades ago.

SO, what John Jeavons has done is take the parts of biodynamics (like moon phase planting, companion planting, and using herbs to heal your garden) with hard basic science to back it, and incorporated them into his French Intensive methods. His goal was to feed the hungry and poor, whereas Rudolf Steiner who literally wrote the book and coined the phrase, says that biodynamic heals the earth by religious farming, and praying, giving worship, to the elemental gods. There is some really cool stuff done in Bio-Dynamics, but it takes serious dedication to one style farming. And in Steiner's book "what is bio-dynamics" they state that unless you are doing every step, than you are not doing Bio-Dynamics.

And this is why I changed my business name from Great Lakes Bio-Dynamics, to Great Lakes Perma-Dynamics. So if anyone wants that name they can have it!

Hopefully that helps some people draw a line between the two methods. They are really nothing similar besides a few simple techniques.
 
Travis Schultz
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Also, if any of you want to learn more through video, you can find a movie called "one man, one cow, one planet" starring the amazing, the glorious, Peter Proctor. Who is literally a soil genius... BUT!!! The first thing you permies will notice is that the farm he is working on in India is all row farming... YUCK!

At the beginning of the movie though they show his own back yard in America, and it looks much more like a food forest than the farms he is helping on in India.

Thanks for the apples! Now we gotta start a thread about getting a "Korean Natural Farming" forum going lol. I could add a lot of good stuff to that one also.

The Unconventional Farmer <<<<AWESOME STUFF!!
 
Burra Maluca
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Travis Schulert wrote:s! Now we gotta start a thread about getting a "Korean Natural Farming" forum going lol. I could add a lot of good stuff to that one also.


Sounds good, but I'm wondering if a more general one would encourage better discussion. Maybe a forum for natural farming systems from around the world (bit long for a title though...) so we could have threads on the different systems, and other threads comparing them and picking out what bits might work best in other areas. Or something.
 
Travis Schultz
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For now I am going to leave out any input on labeling of forums and forum structure simply because most of you stewards and volunteers and bura are much more knowledgeable than myself when it comes to forum layout and what works.

I could give my 2 cents but it aint worth a damn since I have little forum experience. All I know is that if you had a suitable forum for it, I could start posting all my fermented plant extract recipes and lactic acid bacteria etc etc. Have lots of compost tea stuff to talk about as well.

Or whatever forum is best suited for that just let me know.

Pauls podcasts have me finally contributing more to this site, so being a newb I do not know where some of this stuff should go when I make a new topic. I do feel a lot more people need to be experimenting with compost tea, fermented plant extracts, BIM (beneficial indigenous microorganisms), L.A.B Lactic Acid Bacteria, as well as homemade liquid fish fertilizer, immune boosting fermented extracts, and so on. And I am currently writing up more topics every night, but they are just saved in my computer until I learn more about the site and better understand where to post this kind of stuff.

 
Jamie Chevalier
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I'd like to see your compost tea stuff, fermented stuff and so on, Travis. Gardeners in my area are seeing documented (by soil lab tests) healing of fusarium infestations with compost tea. And fusarium is a bear. Killing it on seeds takes saoking in strong hydrogen peroxide solution for hours--enough to kill most seeds. So wherever you post your soil probiotic stuff, I'm going there.
 
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