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Book of Abstracts

11th IFOAM
Scientific Conference
11-15 August 1996
Copenhagen, Denmark

Abstract front page
Subject index
Athor index


Biointensive Mini-Farming in Patagonia S30

Pěa, F; Jordan, M.

Direccion de Agricultura, El Hoyo 9211, Chubut, Argentina. Land Ethic Action Foundation, P.O. Box 1630, Cambria, California 93428, USA.

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Agricultural extension work is typically fraught with frustration. But in nearly fifteen years with the Province of Chubut, Argentina, nothing pained me so much as not being equipped to offer practical »how-to« advise to the growing number of economically disadvantaged small farmers of Andean Patagonia. This demographically disparate group included ranchers (mostly indigenous people) suffering from chronically low world wool prices as well as urban refugees fleeing the economic, social, and spiritual poverty of the city. These »refugees«, having sold what little they owned, had come to start a new, quieter, healthier life. Long on hopes and dreams but short of founds and experience they paraded through my office: »My family has bought a small, two hectare farm and would like to live from the land, what should I plant?«

But food security in a broader sense must also include freedom from the vicious cycle of dependency created by the Ag/Petro-Chemical alliance.

CIESA, Center for Investigations and Teachings in Sustainable Agriculture, was formed in 1993 to address all these issues on a grassroots level. Our principal aim has been to develop a small training center and demonstration farm from which to teach regional food self-sufficiency and appropriate technology. Barely two years after its inception, CIESA in now giving workshops in sustainable Biointensive Minifarming based on the Ecology Action (a California organisation) model.

We chose Biointensive because it is a complete food growing system as well as organic, low tech (all hand tools), space and water efficient (typically four times the U.S. average yields with one-fifth the water), very low external input (we grow much of our own compost and fertiliser crops and save seed), continually builds soil quality, and easily managed by individuals or small groups.

Given the excellent results CIESA has achieved with Biointensive methods, we can now offer farming plans and training which allow a single person working only seven hours per day to provide 60-80% of a vegetarian diet for a family of four and an annual income of between $3000 and $4000 on as little as 800 SM.

In this manner we are working to achieve true food security for all those who are joining us in our project.

Jeavons, J. (1996): How To Grow More Vegetables. Ten Speed Press, Berkeley CA. p12.