John Jeavons is the Executive Director of the globally active non-profit Ecology Action, located in Willits, CA, and is a leader in the field of Biointensive agriculture. He developed the small-scale, high-yielding, resource-conserving GROW BIOINTENSIVE® Sustainable Mini-Farming method—an approach that allows small farmers to increase yields, build fertile soil up to 60x faster than nature, and use 66% less water per pound of food, compared with conventional practices. This comprehensive cropping system enables people everywhere to grow a complete, balanced diet, significant income, and sustainable soil fertility using very little land. As a result of Ecology Action’s demonstration, teaching and research activities in biologically intensive farming over the last 43 years, John’s methods are now being used in 143 countries in virtually all climates and soils where food is grown.
John believes that each person has the capacity to make a profound difference in the sustainability of our agriculture and through it, our world; and that if we each learn to take care of our part of the Earth – our garden – then we can change our situation from one of scarcity to abundance: of enough for everyone
Former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Bob Bergland said of his work: "There are probably a billion people in the world who are malnourished. The Jeavons approach could enable that segment of the population to feed itself adequately for the first time ever. That would be a remarkable development in this world, and would do more to solve the problems of poverty, misery and hunger than anything else we've done.”
A political science graduate of Yale University, Jeavons worked for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Stanford University before launching his career in small-scale agriculture education. He is the author of the best-selling sustainable farming handbook How to Grow More Vegetables, Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops Than You Ever Thought Possible On Less Land Than You Can Imagine, now in its 8th edition in eight languages, plus Braille, with over 550,000 copies in print worldwide. He has authored, co-authored or edited over 40 publications on Biointensive agriculture, including a five-part, peer-reviewed article that appeared in The Journal of Sustainable Agriculture.1
John has been honored to receive the Boise Peace Quilt Award (1988), the Giraffe Award for Public Service (1989), the Santa Fe Living Treasure Award (1989) and the Steward of Sustainable Agriculture Award (2000). He has also been nominated for the Noetic Sciences Altruism Award (1992), the World Food Prize (1993 and 1995) and the Pew Scholars Award in Conservation and the Environment (1995). In 1988, "Circle of Plenty," a PBS-TV documentary about Jeavons and his work aired nationally. He is also one of those featured in the PBS-TV documentary “The Living Land” (1999) and in the documentary film “Fall and Winter” (2013).
Major publications have featured his work, including the New York Times, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune and the Christian Science Monitor.
He has given numerous presentations and workshops in the U.S., and has taught in Kenya, Mexico, South Africa and Canada. This year he will teach at the 1st World Meeting on “Family Organic Agriculture with the Biointensive Method” in the Dominican Republic, with representatives from 50 countries present; in 2015 he will present a 5-day Biointensive workshop at the “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”, Expo in Milan, Italy with 20 million visitors from 144 countries expected; and a 3-day workshop for a farmer’s cooperative in southern France.
Key to Ecology Action’s success in spreading sustainable Biointensive agriculture to so many places around the world has been, and will continue to be, catalyzation of small training centers that keep things local, personal, and economically and environmentally relevant to the people learning the method. Encouraging the creation of as many of these “local on a global scale” training centers as possible is John Jeavons’ focus for the future.
1) Jeavons, J.C. “Biointensive Sustainable Mini-Farming: I. The Challenge; II. Principles for a More Productive, Resource-Efficient, and Environmentally Sound Agriculture; III. System Performance—Initial Trials; IV. System Performance—Continuing Trials in a More Difficult Environment and Soil; V. Future Potential, Some Representative World Applications, Future Challenges and Research Opportunities”, Journal of sustainable agriculture. J. sustain. agric. 2001. v. 19 (2).
John Jeavons with a group of Ecology Action staff and US/international interns.
John Jeavons in the Biointensive research garden at The Jeavons Center in Willits, CA.