Biointensive Mini-Agriculture


Written by Sharing Sustainable Solutions

For home gardening it means: less work, less irrigation, improved soil, higher yields and no poisons. There are unlimited opportunities in market gardening, mini-farming and mini-ranching. People can have a comfortable income, a high quality lifestyle, provide a great service and a great way to raise children. A lady took a BIMA course, went home to Alaska, prepared her land and grossed $20,000 the first year. Then had a six months winter vacation! Houston with over one million people has almost no vegetable production in the five surrounding countries.

BIMA allows people to feed themselves on a local basis that provides total community food security and is a proven food production system that is ecologically sound, economically viable and socially responsible.

It creates a healthy soil for growing healthy plants to provide healthy food to feed healthy people [KH]. For the human population to be healthy, we need to consume healthy foods [organic] which come from healthy animals eating healthy plants grown in healthy soil [C Scheaffer, VMD/holistic].

Food Production: Agriculture is in a crisis worldwide. The Green Revolution is not ecologically sound, economically viable nor socially responsible. It makes farmers depend on, even an economic slave to, agribusiness and multinational corporations, CargillMonsanto, ConAgra, NovartisADM and others. Their goal is to control the world’s food supply from research to production to consumer by controlling seed, fertilizers and chemicals. These seed must have chemicals sprayed on them to produce and seed can not be saved for the next crop. Other corporations are beginning to market irradiated food which may be dangerous to our health. [Request: Who Will Feed The World by email, 12 pages of articles;;;; AGRIBUSINESS EXAMINER -Monitoring Corporate Agribusiness. Free from: [email protected]] The Congress, President, USDA [^partner in a GEg patent?; 30,000 grants; onjy 34 for organic, family farming], most land-grant colleges and most ag extension services are part of the problem rather than part of the solution and uses our tax dollars. The world’s farmers can produce all the food the world’s population requires, regardless of how high it goes, using BIMA.

^000200000B1100000AEE^B0B, Urban Ag has the potential to provide many benefits to cities – in nutritional improvement, hunger reduction, income generation, enterprise development and environmental enhancement. The poor and unemployed can grow their own food. Farming converts degraded and unkept vacant lots into healthy, green areas. Waste [grass, leaves, trees, sawdust, manure, food waste] can be composted and used on the farms as well as recycled water. City governments must recognize the potential of urban agriculture and accord it the status given to other industries and economic activities in the city.  Urban Ag Network, [email protected]. Books: Urban Agriculture – Food, Jobs and Sustainable Cities; A Patch of Eden, H P Hynes; Urban gardening is very important socially, economically, esthetically and recreationally. Cultivating Havana: Urban Agriculture; 1999,Food First

Urban Micro-entrepreneurship: Most urban agriculture is directed by NGO’s but there are unlimited opportunities for private BIMA all over every city. Employment is limited and most are low pay. Urban homesteading and BIMA are a realistic option: socially and financially. Book: Entrepreneurial Community Gardens, G Feenstra, 1999.

Economic development is a major concern for most towns and cities. BIMA is very effective economic development. It benefits local people. Thirty experienced families can sell $40,000 each in the local farmer’s market. That is created wealth. That is $1,200,000 added to the local economy each year. This wealth stays in the city rather than being sent to a corporate office somewhere; even abroad.

Rural: There is a grassroots movement back to family farming. BIMA is the answer and is being used by the many ‘new’ people entering agriculture as well as innovative farmers. Web: //;

Micro-entrepreneurship: Employment opportunities are limited and most are low pay. BIMA is a realistic option: socially and financially.

Organic: Gardeners and farmers have been organic since the beginning of agriculture until the discovery of certain chemicals in WW II [to kill people then, insects now]. No one has the right, moral or legal, to poison the air, soil or water. Organic gardening and farming is more than avoiding chemicals. The organic method requires a change of attitude and a different thought process. [H Garrett, DMN;]. Organic does not require the purchase of any outside inputs except seed and maybe organic fertilizer. The present generation knows nothing about raised beds or organics because their fathers and grandfathers have used chemicals since the 1950s. Therefore, they must be taught. [Read: From The Good Earth, M Ableman; Web: www,;]

Note: A salesman sales chemical fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides, etc to a farmer and gets paid by the chemical company from the sale. Promoters of organic gardening and farming have nothing to sale.

Raised beds: They have been used in Asia [Indonesia, China, Vietnam, PNG], Latin America [Mexico, Guatemala, Bolivia, Peru], Europe [France] and USA [NE Indians] for centuries. I saw a few while living in Guatemala. Because of chemicals they were abandon but there is a worldwide movement back to using them. 80,000 km2 are being restored in Peru/Bolivia. They work.

Everyone should use and I teach:

A. Organic, biointensive, double dug, permanent raised beds with green manure/cover crops/mulch/-compost. This can double or even triple the yields while reducing the labor by half compared to traditional gardening. This works [USA: Chadwick Garden & market garden, Ecology Action, MOA, NFRDC; Mexico, ECOPOL; Philippines, IIRR; Kenya: Manor House Ag Center; Chile: Centro de Educac^on y Tecnolog^a; Vietnam: VACVINA] and the proof is there for all to see.

B. Organic, biointensive, permanent raised beds using no-till, green manure/cover crops/mulch/-compost. This works and the proof [Honduras: COSECHA, CIDICCO; Japan: M Fukuoka,; IIRR: Philippines; Chile, CET; USA: M Cain, AR] is there for all to see.

BIMA boasts two advantages no other production system can claim. First, it is easier on the soil than mechanized methods. Second, it is the least expensive method in terms of capital outlay. For very small farms [mini-farms] this method is not only economically viable but superior to the alternatives. Jeff Rast, Center for Small Acreage Farming, Countryside Magazine, Nov/Dec 98.

Only hand labor with hand tools are used but with sufficient land use power hand tools, scythes, wheel hoes with implements, push planters and spreaders, etc. A plow [moldboard, rototiller, etc] is never used. [Read: Plowman’s Folly, E H Faulker; Weeds-Control Without Chemicals, Walters. Video: Necessity of Organic Resides, R Parnes]. Transportation can be a bicycle, tricycle, quadracycle [pickup and/or passengers] with trailers. [Info: address above].

C. Organic, permanent raised beds [80Ó-100Ó wide] with green manure/cover crops using no-till machinery. Axles are extended to fit over the beds so the wheels run in permanent tracks. This works and the proof [Morrison, USDA/ARS, TX; Deep Bed Farming Society, CO; S Groff. PA; EPAGRI, Brazil] is there for all to see. [Video: No-Till Vegetables, S Groff]

D. Agroforestry: Trees [food, oils, chemicals, medicinals, spices, beverages, crafts, lumber, forages, firewood, windbreaks, industrials, etc] should be a planned crop.;;

1. Forestry: Forest must not be cleared but manage-harvested for natural crop production using raised beds for specific crops. This works and the proof [Brazil: Instituto de Permacultura da Bahia, Costa Rica, IANI] is there for all to see.

2. Alley Cropping: Raised beds between rows of trees. This works and the proof [USA; Nigeria, IITA; Philippines, IIRR, BMRLC; Costa Rica, IANI] is there for all to see.

Without a water system, bucket drip irrigation should be used. A kit [US$25 ppd] irrigates 200 feet of vegetables by filling a five gallon bucket each morning and each evening. Two kits will irrigate enough vegetables for a family of seven on a vegetarian diet during the dry season. [Kenya]. Can be adapted to irrigate trees, etc. [Video: Third World Irrigation Update, free with first kit or $5 ppd.]

Financing: Requirements for beginners: handtools, seed, fertilizer, water, misc for $400 or less. Micro-loan programs [no collateral required. failures-2%], cooperatives, ag incubators, foundations may be needed. Contact: The Intervale Foundation, 802-660-3508 fax 3501

Cooperative: tools for loan, purchase in bulk and sell, rent land, farmer’s markets, library, training classes, micro-loans, savings bank, rent value-added processing plant, etc for members only.

Land: Use land, free, owned by individuals, companies, churches, governments, schools, non-profits and the tax office [Repossessed land in Lubbock TX may be farmed free]. People will donate land to non-profit groups. The food bank in Lubbock TX has been given: various vacant lots, 25 A orchard; 5 A. farm and Jan 99, 48 A urban farm.

BIMA can produce flowers, dyes, vegetables, nuts, fruits, trees, grains, fibers, herbs, spices, medicinals, oils, teas, sweeteners, fragrances, seeds, ornamentals, industrials [lubricants, brooms, gums, waxes, oils, rubber, emulsifiers, chemicals, paper], forages, feed grains, farm animals. Market gardening has a average gross sales of $8,000 per acre with a few as high as $30,000 with value-added. A family with 2-15 acres can earn a very nice income.

Schools/Youth: Most young people do not know enough about agriculture to know whether they are interested in it or not. They should have some exposure to all of it. Should feel close to nature. 1. Gardens: Every school [primary, junior high, high school] should have a gardening project in every classroom. Foodworks, VT; Mountain School, VT; Home Schoolers should have a cooperative garden. [Yellowrose School, TX; request: BIMA-Youth; Our Wonderful Youth;;

2. Market Garden/Mini-Farm: Every high school should have a BIMA training program as a career choice. [not part of Vo-Ag/FFA];; AR – [email protected]; Chicago HS for Ag Sciences; Read: Entrepreneurial Community Gardens,: Growing food, skills, jobs and communities. Freenstra, McGrew, Campbell, 1999.

3. Mini-Ranch/Dairy: Many students will not garden but prefer livestock. It is a rich educational experience to witness mating, birth, maturing, dying and having to nurture animals. Read: Explorations in Urban Animal Ag, HPI

Training: BIMA should be offered in all youth detention centers, prisons and jails [C Marcum, SF County Jail, CA]. Others: homeless [Homeless Project, Fresh Start Farms, HGP, CA], gang members

City Farmers, Survival in the Urban Landscape, 412-528-4839]

, welfare-to-work, etc. Most people want to work; not take handouts. They should be trained as should those seeking new careers, second jobs or part-time work. They have a choice of micro-entrepreneurship or employment.

1. Market Garden: One food bank offers training for up to three years.

2. Mini-Farm: Training in additional crops and value-added.

3. Mini-Ranch/Mini-Dairy: Some people prefer livestock. [St Anthony’s Dairy, [email protected]]


1. Home Garden/mini-ranch: Every home should have a garden to produce food for the family and forage for small animals for meat. This assures that the family, especially the children, do not consume chemicals. With experience, a family can grow all their vegetables on 1000 ft2. Additional beds can be used for forage for small farm animals.

2. Market Garden: High value, labor intensive crops are grown.

3. Mini-Farm: Additional crops requiring more land but less intensive labor. Some of these crops are particularly adapted to value-added.

4. Mini-Ranch: Use raised beds for forage/grain. Small animals are in pens which are over the beds and moved down the beds daily for grazing or cut and carry. HPI has a bee project in Chicago. Houston has hundreds of livestock. [DMN, Nov 98]. If neighbors do not complain, the city authorities probably won’t. Raise quiet animals [no roosters], keep clean [no odors] and give each neighbor eggs or meat or vegetables every month. Mini-ranching requires a little more investment and land but less labor.

5. Mini-Dairy Farm: Raised beds for forage/grain. HPI has a dairy goat project in Chicago. There is a goat dairy in downtown Houston. Use milk goats, dairy sheep and miniatures.


1. Market Garden: Has more acreage and uses larger hand tools or power hand tools. The farmer who is willing to change can find a very profitable niche.

2. Mini-Farm: Larger scale. Grow volume and/or industrial crops which require more acres.

3. Mini-Ranch: Raised beds for forage/grain. Small animals are in pens which are over the beds and moved down the bed daily for grazing or cut and carry. Small livestock includes miniature swine [40#] and beef [15 meat and dual purpose breeds]. There is a demand for organic, farm raised meat, eggs, raw milk, etc.

4. Mini-Dairy: Use raised beds for forage & grain. Space for large dairy animals. [cattle, water buffalo, goats, sheep] Grow all feed. 50 cow dairy supports two families [CISA, PA].

Marketing: There is a nationwide, grassroots movement to buy local, buy fresh, buy organic. There are many ways to market but the following are the best.

1. Farm stand or curbside stand: Customers coming to you is low cost marketing. People will drive to a farm to buy fresh food.

2. Farmer’s Markets: The US government issues funds to families which must be used only for fresh fruits and vegetables and used only at a certified farmer’s market. The USDA grants permission for farmer’s markets to operate on government property. Put them in housing projects. Web:

3. CSA-Community Supported Agriculture: Customers pre-purchase shares of produce.

4. Value-added: Use family labor to process in some way what is grown to increase the selling price. Examples: solar dried fruit/vegetables, jams/jellies, crafts, milk/cheese, dried flowers, etc. [equipment manufacturers: Cecoco, Japan; milk processing, [email protected]].

5. Cooperatives: Enalbles the mini-agriculturists to work together to do what they can’t do individually in marketing and/or value-added processing. [example-cheese making, jelly, etc]

BIMA Workshops:

Gardens/Mini-Farms workshops of 1 -4 days are available anywhere at anytime. They are practical and how-to. I take two reference books [English, Spanish, French, German, Russian, Hindi, Arabic] to donate, drip irrigation samples and order free magazines [Spanish, English, Portuguese] if there is a library. Demonstrate raised bed construction, mulching and drip irrigation. Show videos/slides and networking. Display: books, periodicals, newsletters, tools.

The only opportunity to learn practical, how-to BIMA is in my workshops or in TN [gardening or mini-farming] on-farm workshops [five days each] in June. Contact for info. Ken Hargesheimer

I ask one favor of every person who gets this; pass it on to as many others as possible to encourage them to use organic gardening and farming. Encourage the schools to teach it.

Request: BIMA-A Sustainable Farming System; BIMA-Info & Ideas [five pp], BIMA-Third World, BIMA-Youth, Bucket drip kits by Email or SASE.

Can you imagine the beauty of your community with all vacant lots/land in mini-agriculture, wildflowers, wildlife, forest, prairie, stream riparians

Tropical Small Farms

We must remember that one factor of the “Green Revolution” around the world was mass migration of small property-owners to the cities to swell the slums ( Sao Paulo Brazil now has 15 million people, at least half of which are rural refugees). So when the Industrial Agriculture mega-business people talk about “feeding the starving millions” they omit to mention that these millions are starving because they were forced off their lands by an agricultural model which was too expensive and too destructive for small farms to hold up under. Our experience in Brazil mirrors what is said here about the small farm. We have seen examples of successful small farms of 3-4 hectares of agroforests ( which is the appropriate model in the tropics) earn US$300-400 per month, with practically zero costs other than family labor. This means a comfortable margin of profit which permits a very good life indeed. Marsha Hanzi. Instituto de Permacultura da bahia Brazil. [email protected]

  • Gaviotas – A Village to Reinvent the World, Alan Wiesman
  • Entrepreneurial Community Gardens Freenstra
  • Natural Pest Control Andy Lopez Andy@invisiblegardener
  • Garden-Ville Method Malcolm Becyk
  • Organic Manual Howard Garrett
  • Organic Gardener’s Composting Steve Solomon Out of print, Reprint in Fall 99
  • Farmer’s Earthworm Handbook David Ernst
  • How To Grow More Vegetables Than You Ever Though Possible on Less Land Than You Can Imagine, John Jeavons [email protected] Spanish, French, German, Russian, Arabic, Kiswahilli
  • Plowman’s Folly E H Faulkner
  • Weeds: Control Without Poisons Charles Walters, Jr
  • Growing Produce Family Style R Yoder 330-852-4687 [market gardening]
  • Rebirth of The Small Family Farm Gregson, Box 2542, Vashon Island WA 98070, $10 ppd
  • Solar Gardening Poisson 800-762-7325
  • Cold Weather Gardening Frank Ours Box 371, Parson, WV $7 pp.
  • From the Good Earth M Ableman
  • Four Seasons Harvest, Eliot Coleman
  • Winter Harvest Manual, Eliot Coleman
  • New Organic Grower, Eliot Coleman
  • You Can Farm: The Entrepreneur’s Guide, Joe Salatin
  • Salad Bar Beef, Joe Salatin
  • Pastured Poultry Profits: Joe Salatin
  • One Straw Revolution, M Fukuoka, Japanese
  • Natural Way of Farming, M Fukuoka, Japanese
  • Road Back To Nature, M Fukuoka, Japanese


TTU: BS-Agriculture; Ecology Action: BIMA Workshop 97

TX: Lubbock, Dallas, Hereford, Nazareth, Happy, Amarillo

MS: Oxford; FL: N Ft Myers

Mexico, Rep. Dominicana, C^t^ d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Honduras Box 1901, Lubbock TX 79408-1901

Tel 806-744-8517; Fax 806-747-0500; [email protected]

Workshops in organic, biointensive, raised-bed gardening, market gardening, mini-farming, mini-ranching worldwide in English & Spanish

Originally posted @ Sharing Sustainable Solutions


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