Meet John Jeavons

John JeavonsJohn Jeavons is the Executive Director of Ecology Action of the Mid-Peninsula, a 501 (c) (3) organization. He is known internationally as the leading researcher and method developer, teacher, and consultant for the small-scale, sustainable agricultural method known as GROW BIOINTENSIVE mini-farming.  He is the author of the best-selling book  How to Grow More Vegetables, Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops Than You Ever Thought Possible On Less Land Than You Can Imagine  (Ten Speed Press),which has gone into seven editions in seven languages, plus Braille.  There are over 550,000 copies in print worldwide.  He has authored, co-authored or edited over 30 publications on this high-yielding, resource-conserving Biointensive approach, including a five-part, peer reviewed article that appeared in The Journal of Sustainable Agriculture.  Jeavons' food-raising methods are being used in 141 countries and by such organizations as UNICEF, Save the Children, and the Peace Corps.

Jeavons advises students, teachers, gardeners, local producers, and representatives of private, non-profit and governmental organizations.  He is particularly interested in cross-cultural exchange of agricultural methods globally.

The comprehensive and sustainable cropping system developed by Jeavons enables people in all regions of the world to grow a balanced diet on a small plot of land.  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 devoting the past 36 years to the development of Biointensive techniques.  He has been the recipient of 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 a nominee 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 Living Land” (1999), a PBS-TV documentary.  Major publications have featured his work, including the New York Times, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune and the Christian Science Monitor. His invitations to lecture have included China, Kenya, Russia, Bhutan, Nepal, Mexico and Canada.

Jeavons was instrumental in organizing the “Soil, Food and People—A Biointensive Model for the Next Century” International Conference presented by Ecology Action at the University of California-Davis in the year 2000.  John Doran, former President of the Soil Science Society of America and recipient 1999 Onassis Environmental Prize said that the Conference was “ of the most inspiring conferences that I have ever been to in my over 25 years as a scientist and a lifetime as a person.”

Jeavons also catalyzed the 6-Day Biointensive Sustainable Mini-Farming Workshop in Costa Rica for the Spanish-speaking world in 2006 with over 115 participants from 21 countries.  The Workshop was given in part with the collaboration of IICA, the Institute for Interamerican Cooperation in Agriculture, made up of 32-member nations.  Isidro Alejo,  a participant from the Dominican Republic said of the Workshop, ...[the] organizers and participants were all the same, there were no differences or distinctions made, so all of us felt  [we] were at the same level and ‘among our families’.” 

Stemming from a consensus that African farmers need to actively participate in shaping their future, Joseph Ssuuna, Director General of PELUM (Zambia) and Ngugi Mutura, Director of SACDEP (Kenya) birthed the idea of two Pan-African Symposiums. John Jeavons was asked to help develop the Pan-African 5-Day GROW BIOINTENSIVE Sustainable Mini-Farming Workshop and 4-Day Pan-African Symposium in Kitale, Kenya in August 2007. That workshop was attended by 138 participants from seven African countries—mostly Kenya.  Participants included farmers, NGO directors, current and former MHAC 2-year apprentices, development professionals and representatives from the Kenyan Ministry of Agriculture. The events were co-sponsored by MHAC and the African Participatory Ecological Land Use Management Association (PELUM), an organizational network of over 170 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in 10 countries.  The combined events exceeded everyone’s expectations.  

The conference included a 1-Day Meeting for Graduates of the Manor House Agricultural Centre (MHAC) 2-Year Apprenticeship Program. As a result of the MHAC Graduates Meeting an Alumni Organization was formed. Membership is made up of the almost 400 individuals who have graduated from the MHAC 2-year apprentice program over the past 22 years.  This professional association enables members to network and share information, and to facilitate additional education opportunities, and to locate good jobs more easily.
As the facilitator at the Pan-African workshop and a key participant in the Symposium, John Jeavons shared the latest conceptual and practical aspects of the GROW BIOINTENSIVE (GB) method.  This was especially important as the participants will be influencing the reportedly 2.5 million farmers using GB in Kenya as the result of the work of MHAC and the Kilili Self Help Project over the last two decades.  In addition, countless people have been exposed to this method in other African countries.  An outcome of the meetings was a Resolution that supports the needs of small farmers, the use of many types of organic farming, and reliance on open-pollinated seed. At the end of the event, three of the 27 Biointensive Mini-Training Centres (MTC) in Kenya were visited as models of the success of the outreach program.

In preparation: 

  • November 10-15, 2008—International workshop on small-scale sustainable organic agriculture with the Biointensive method:  Xochitla, Mexico near Mexico City—200 participants from 24 countries, including Kenya and Russia.
  • June 4, 2009—Yale University: Water Wars in the 21st Century Panelist


  • Member, Academia Mexicana de Investigacion en Demografia Media, A.C.
  • Member, Board of Directors, Alan Chadwick Society
  • Advisory Board Member of the American Wine and Food Institute
  • Advisory Board Member of the Smith & Hawken Tool Company
  • Advisory Board Member of the Mother Earth News Farm Magazine
  • Advisory Board Member of Volunteers in International Service and Awareness (VIISA)
  • Advisory Board Member of Fresh Start Farms

Key to Ecology Action’s success has been and will continue to be the catalyzing of small, decentralized training centers that keep things local, personal, and economically and environmentally relative. The demand for this knowledge is expected to increase dramatically with the intensifying of the world food/water/energy situation, but if we hold to our vision of empowering others to take the basic tools and engage their own inner capacities for finding solutions, we can stay “lean and keen” and accomplish all of our goals. By working smarter, not harder we have developed an acute perception about implementing precise, well-placed efforts aimed at empowerment. We want to help people shift away from the idea that massive organizations are needed to mete out solutions to massive challenges, and to elicit a sense of pleasurable responsibility that comes from helping people see all the ways they can joyfully and effectively respond to looming concerns rather than becoming fearful and immobilized.

John Jeavons is a moving speaker who is frequently sought to address national and international conferences and university audiences.  He has addressed the World Food Conference at Clemson University as the keynote speaker, has taught classes at Stanford University and given lectures at Universities throughout Mexico.  Audiences are enriched by his message of the important role individuals play in providing solutions to world environment and food challenges.

John Jeavons
5798 Ridgewood Road  •  Willits, CA 95490
phone 707.459.5958 (between 10AM - 3PM Pacific Standard Time only, please!)
 fax 707.459.5978