ContentsWHY IS GROWING HEALTH IMPORTANT?STRATEGIES FOR GROWING HEALTHAPPROACH #1: THE KITCHEN GARDENSproutingAPPROACH #2: THE BALCONY GARDENGrowing Micro GreensContainer GardeningAPPROACH #3: THE OUTDOOR GARDENSquare Foot GardeningGrow Biointensive GardeningLasagna GardeningPermacultureCOMPOSTINGBUYING GROUPSBLENDING AND JUICING“OK, YOU‟VE CONVINCED ME. WHAT SHOULD I DO NOW?”THE ECONOMICS OF CHANGING THE WORLD ONE COMMUNITY AT ATIMETHE FAMILY G.O.A.L. PROGRAM
WHY IS GROWING HEALTH IMPORTANT?Writings that date back thousands of years say that we humans are “fearfully and wonderfullymade.” You might say the authors had no real idea what they were talking about back then, butthe same probably holds true for us. We are perhaps the most complex beings on the planet, yetso often we take the systems in our bodies for granted.To understand just how complex the body is, let‟s compare it to the busiest airport in the world,Atlanta International Airport. Every year, 88 million people fly out of Atlanta, a number whichexceeds the population of most countries. It‟s mind-boggling to imagine the communicationssystems needed to coordinate the flights of those 88 million people to hundreds of differentdestinations, not to mention the luggage they expect to arrive with them. It would take months tomap out and explain the hardware and software required to create the layers and layers ofsystems that regulate the flow of information in that airport.Every person‟s body has over 70 trillion cells undergoing millions of different processesinvolved in functioning, dividing and dying. We have almost a million times as many cells in ourbodies as the number of people who go through the busiest airport in the world each year. Notonly that, but the human body gets a complete rebuild every seven years on average, and areasthat are worked hard like the liver are rebuilt every five months. With everything factored in, ourbodies are a million times more complicated than the largest airport.The human body is so complex that after centuries we still don‟t understand all that is needed tosustain life. Maybe we never will. One thing is clear: Things that are alive have more pressingneeds than things that aren‟t. A statue of a person can stand outside for centuries and needvirtually nothing. A live person is different. Literally thousands of nutrients and chemicals areneeded to keep humans working.The good news is that we are amazingly designed and built – too complicated to just havehappened. The bad news is that our bodies are meant to eat fresh, nutritious food, andurbanization makes it increasingly unlikely that most people will do so. For centuries there hasbeen a steady rural-to-urban migration, and in 2008, for the first time, more than half the worldlived in urban areas.The health-related effects of a more urban lifestyle are staggering. To cope with a smallerpercentage of people producing food, we have moved to mass production. Now, that method isgood for cars and computers, but for humans it just doesn‟t seem to work. We are not a fewpounds of predictable metal, but living multiplexes of dynamic ebb and flow processes, each ofus a world within a world of complexity. Yet somehow many of us feel that we can keep themost complex creatures on the planet working well with nourishment that is greatly reducedfrom its original live form. Although most of our food today has plenty of calories and oftenamazing flavours, anything in it that was alive has had to be changed to make it more versatile orlengthen its shelf life.Because our bodies are so complex, it can be daunting to figure out how to maintain them. Butthat‟s the easy part: live things need live food. Cardboard is a manufactured product that beganas a living thing. It is very strong by weight, functional and very predictable, but deadnevertheless. Many processed foods are coming closer to having the nutritional value of
cardboard. Live food that is picked from the ground, on the other hand, is just that: alive. It hasthousands of enzymes in it and myriad nutrients.After several decades of preparing and eating processed food, changing our eating habits seemstoo hard for many people. At the same time our bodies, which are more complex than anythingelse on the planet, are telling us, even screaming at us, that they need something more. Everyweek, new contagious and deteriorating diseases are showing up. At the same time, age-olddiseases are returning and spreading at high rates.The 70 trillion cells in our bodies need nutrients to function properly. Given the right buildingblocks, our bodies can remain vital for almost a century. So what is the solution? The simplenutrient density chart that is explained in all our projects holds the key. It clearly states that theaverage North American‟s diet sits dangerously at an unhealthy average of about 100 nutrientdensity points per calorie. Our mega-complex bodies need to average at least 200 to 400 nutrientdensity points per calorie – even more if our bodies are in a health crisis.In order to raise the average, at least a third of our diet needs to be made up of the highest-nutrient foods in their most original form. Fortunately, these foods are also the easiest to producewith the simplest gardening techniques.We are alive, and our bodies, at the smallest cellular level, crave live food. If we don‟t want tosuffer from the many diseases we see around us, we need to rethink our bodies‟ needs andembrace the foods that we can produce to empower them.This booklet describes the best ways to produce high-nutrient foods in minutes a day. Not only isit possible to drastically improve your diet, but with the strategies outlined in these pages youcan have 10 times the nutrients in your diet for 1/10 the cost. That is your Creator‟s gift to you.Have a look and see just how easy it is.
STRATEGIES FOR GROWING HEALTHIn our research, we have come across three types of gardening approaches that can help anyonegrow health: kitchen gardens, container or balcony gardens and outdoor gardens. Any of thesegarden types by themselves can create 10 times the nutrients in your food. Read on for adescription of each approach.Then, continue reading to learn about the art and science of composting, how you can form abuying group to reduce your costs, and how blending and juicing can help you make the most ofthe living food you have grown.Finally, there‟s a list of 10 steps you can take if you decide to take on the joy and challenge ofgrowing health, plus information about how you can invest the money you save to change theworld one community at a time.Growing Health could not be any easier.
APPROACH #1: THE KITCHEN GARDENSproutingSprouts are one of the greatest miracles anywhere. In three days, with simply the addition ofwater, they can go from being dormant to five times their original size and totally alive. Thatmakes sprouts the cheapest and freshest organic food on the earth if you grow them yourself.According to the International Journal of Applied Science, alfalfa, radish, broccoli, clover andsoybean sprouts contain concentrated amounts of phytochemicals (plant compounds) that canprotect us against disease. Phytochemicals increase bone formation and density and prevent bonebreakdown or osteoporosis. They are also helpful in controlling hot flashes, menopause, PMSand fibrocystic breast tumours.Alfalfa sprouts are one of our finest food sources of another compound called saponins. Saponinslower the bad cholesterol and fat but not the good HDL fats in our bodies. Animal studies showthe benefit of saponins in combating arteriosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. Saponins alsostimulate the immune system by increasing the activity of natural killer cells such as T-lymphocytes and interferon. The saponin content of alfalfa sprouts is 450 per cent higher thanthat of the unsprouted seed.Sprouts also contain an abundance of highly active antioxidants that prevent DNA destructionand protect us from the ongoing effects of aging. It wouldn‟t be inconceivable to find a fountainof youth here. After all, sprouts represent the miracle of birth.Dennis Baker, a researcher and commercial sprout grower for the company BioessentialBotanicals, says that seeds, nuts and beans increase 15 times in nutritional value when theysprout. He says that ungerminated seeds and grains contain “anti-nutrients” such as enzymeinhibitors and phytic acid, which prevent proper digestion. As sprouts begin to grow, phytic acidis reduced and natural enzyme inhibitors are eliminated.If we look at the Nutrient Density Chart developed by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, grains, seeds and beansreceive 30 to 70 nutrient points on average. If sprouting increases nutritional values by 10 times,that could result in live foods that score as high as 700 nutrient density points. That is exciting,especially for those who do not have a garden or can only grow during summer months.Incredibly, it takes literally minutes a day to care for sprouts.When seeds sprout, the vitamins, minerals and protein available increase substantially, while thenumber of calories and carbohydrate content decrease. The following table shows the averageeffect of sprouting on various nutrients found in dried seeds, beans and legumes.Energy content (calories) Decreases 15 per centTotal carbohydrate content Decreases 15 per centProtein availability Increases 30 per centCalcium content Increases 34 per centPotassium content Increases 80 per cent
Sodium content Increases 690 per centIron content Increases 40 per centPhosphorous content Increases 56 per centVitamin A content Increases 285 per centThiamine or Vitamin B1 content Increases 208 per centRiboflavin or Vitamin B2 content Increases 515 per centNiacin or Vitamin B3 content Increases 256 per centAscorbic acid or Vitamin C content Increases infinitelyThe increase in protein availability is important because the protein that results from sprouting ofdried seeds, beans and legumes is the most easily digestible of all proteins available in foods.Sprouts supply food in pre-digested form, that is, food which has already been acted upon byenzymes and can therefore be digested easily. During sprouting, much of the starch is brokendown into simple sugars such as glucose and sucrose by the action of the enzyme amylase.Proteins are converted into amino acids and amides. Fats and oils are converted into simpler fattyacids by the action of the enzyme lipase.At the same time, other contents of the sprouts help the body to metabolize the proteins. Driedseeds, grains and legumes do not contain discernible traces of ascorbic acid, yet when sprouted,they reveal quite significant quantities of ascorbic acid, which are important in the body‟s abilityto metabolise proteins. The infinite increase in ascorbic acid derives from the sprouts‟ absorptionof atmospheric elements during growth.The remarkable increase in sodium content during sprouting is also important in nutritionalterms. Sodium is essential to the digestive process within the gastro-intestinal tract and also tothe elimination of carbon dioxide. Sodium contributes to the easy digestibility of sprouts.During sprouting, beans lose their objectionable gas-producing quality. Research has shown thatoligosaccharides are responsible for gas formation. For maintenance of health, some amount ofgas production is necessary, but it should be within safe limits. As the process of germinationends and sprouting begins, the percentage of oligosaccharides is reduced by 90%. Sproutscontain a lot of fibre and water and, therefore, are helpful in overcoming constipation.Eating sprouts is an extremely inexpensive way of obtaining a concentration of vitamins,minerals and enzymes. They have in them all the constituent nutrients of fruits and vegetablesand are „live‟ foods. Eating sprouts you have produced yourself also allows you to avoid anycontamination and harmful insecticides that may be found on commercially grown fruits andvegetables.There are a number of books and videos that show how easy it is to grow your own nutrient-dense foods in small spaces, without too much time and effort. Most libraries carry books onmaking sprouts. Sprouts: The Miracle Food is probably the best-known book on growing sproutsand greens. Steve Meyerowitz, the author of Sprouts: The Miracle Food, has been known as theSproutman for over three decades. His book covers just about everything you would want to
know about sprouting. Reading it, you will be amazed at the variety of different sprouts you canmake.The Sproutman‟ s guide shows you step by step how to grow delicious baby greens and mini-vegetables in a few days to a week from seed to salad. You can easily be a self-sufficientgardener of sprouts that are bursting with concentrated nutrition. In Meyerowitz‟s “sproutmanual,” you will also find many comprehensive nutrition charts, questions and answers, seedresources, illustrations, photos and charts.There are a variety of different methods of growing sprouts, such as in baskets, sprouting bags,glass jars, trays, etc. Sprouts: The Miracle Food gives in-depth instructions for three methods(baskets, bags, and trays), each of which has its own pros and cons. It also provides informationabout seeds, including the varieties, the days until harvest, the uses and tastes, etc. In summary,Meyerowitzs‟ manual on sprouting is very comprehensive and is a must-have reference forbeginners or even experienced “sprouters.”There is also a companion book by Meyerowitz called Kitchen Garden Cookbook which I reallylike. It contains several recipes that can get you headed the right direction. The sprout cookie isone of the recipes which is super simple. The dried sprouted lentils recipe is a great snack. TheManhattan sprout chowder leaves lots of room to experiment by substituting ingredients, whichis something I really like to do. And lastly, the sprout vegetable soup is something that is justplain good for you. Meyerowitz doesn‟t have a good sprouted chickpea hummus recipe, but thatis easy to find online. Because there is so much information on the internet, you can findsomeone who has added sprouts to almost any dish. On a personal note, we have used several different types of sprouting devices ourselves andparticularly like the „Easy Sprout System‟ for several reasons, one of which is that it takes upvery little counter space. We usually have three or more going throughout the winter and earlyspring before things start to grow outdoors. The container has natural ventilation built in and youcan use any size seeds. It makes it super easy to sprout when travelling, camping or, in our case,sailing. Several online outlets carry the Easy Sprout System, and it is reasonably priced. Tosprout seeds into tiny greens like sunflower seeds, use basket sprouters like the ones athttp://www.sproutgrowers.com.We have a friend who most would consider fairly radical. He grows 80% of his food in a12”x12” area in the kitchen year round. He claims a 50% to 75% reduction in food bills. That‟s alot of sprouts. However, even if you decide not to take the radical route, sprouting cansignificantly impact your monthly food costs and only requires a small time commitment to doso.If you do try sprouting, I suggest joining an internet user group. They can help you trouble shootalmost anything and there are always great suggestions on different seeds to try and how toincorporate them into your diet. We use the Yahoo group called Sproutpeople. It is linked to avery good sprout company in the USA that has lots of resources.The internet has almost unlimited information on seed sources and growing techniques. Besidesweb pages, blogs and user groups, there are several dozen YouTube instructional videos on
sprouting which also provide a great classroom to sit in on. Above all, do not be in a hurry, butenjoy the life you will see bursting forth in your creations.These projects are not only great for you but also wonderful for building responsibility in kids.Nothing is easier to grow than sprouts. Micro greens, described in the next section, take a littlelonger, but both of these simple projects teach children how practical and fun it is to GROWHEALTH.
APPROACH #2: THE BALCONY GARDENGrowing Micro GreensIf you are really excited about adding greens to your diet, but don‟t have much space, you mightwant to take a look at the book Micro-greens: A Guide to Growing Nutrient-Packed Greens byEric Franks and Jasmine Richardson. This book explains the easy process of planting andgrowing little greens, which on average takes about two weeks. These greens can be grown on aporch, patio, deck, windowsill, or balcony. The nutritional potency of micro greens is amazing,and they make salads, sandwiches, soups, entrees, and burgers much tastier.Container GardeningMany gardening books describe ample land and space as being a prerequisite for growingflowers, plants, and food. This simply isn‟t the case. We really like the book Fresh Food fromSmall Spaces: The Square-Inch Gardener’s Guide to Year-Round Growing, Fermenting, andSprouting, by R. J. Ruppenthal. The book does a great job of explaining container gardening forthose gardeners who are space challenged.Readers discover techniques for sustainable food production – even on a small scale – by usingevery square inch of space available to them. Ruppenthal walks gardeners through assessing theiravailable space and its lighting, deciding what to grow, and buying (or building) vegetablegarden containers. Using his techniques, gardeners will learn to grow herbs, vegetables, fruit andgrains and eat some home-grown, fresh food every day of the year.A book with more technical information on using containers is McGee and Stuckey‟s BountifulContainer: A Container Garden of Vegetables, Herbs, Fruits, and Edible Flowers. It includesdetailed information on the types of containers to use, equipment needed, the right soil, when toplant which seeds and how best to deal with problems such as too much or too little sunlight. Thebook also explains more sophisticated techniques like succession planting, whereby ongoingseasonal planting takes place in the same container.Beginning with the basics of soil, sun and water, fertilizer, seeds and propagation, BountifulContainer also covers specific information on a variety of vegetables, herbs, fruits, and edibleflowers. Each plant is addressed for several pages, with information such as when to plant, sunand water requirements, general care, and varieties suitable for containers. The pros and cons ofdifferent types of containers are also described.
APPROACH #3: THE OUTDOOR GARDENSquare Foot GardeningThe cost of organic greens does not have to turn you off. There is an easy solution: grow themyourself! Growing the best organic greens in your backyard is probably the easiest and fastestgarden project you can undertake.Some might think growing greens is too hard, but Mel Bartholomew, author of the book SquareFoot Gardening, claims to have discovered a gardening method that is not only easier thantraditional gardening but produces a better yield with less wasted time, energy and money.If you do a quick Google or YouTube search for square foot gardening, you‟ll find thousands ofpeople who love this growing method. Most people are compelled by the simplicity ofmaintaining such a systematically planned garden once the initial work of setting it up is done.We should also mention that this book has sold more copies than any other book on gardening,ever. This form of gardening is so popular that there is even an iPhone app for it.So what does square foot gardening involve? The first key is that your garden is generally laidout in 4 x 4-foot or 4 x 8-foot raised beds rather than the traditional long rows. Those beds arethen divided using string or boards to make smaller 1x1-foot squares. Seeds are planted intothese smaller squares. The proper spacing of seeds is based on what you‟ve chosen to plant.Some plants, such as cabbage, grow quite large and require an entire 1x1 block for each plant.Other plants such as radishes can be seeded 16 to a 1x1 block (one every three inches). You canreach any square from the sides, which makes work on the garden beds easy. Weeding is also abreeze in the raised beds, because the soil is loose and with ordered plant spacing anything out ofthe pattern sticks out.Most gardens have problems with poor soil and drainage. This manual teaches how to create andmaintain great soil for your garden quite easily. It includes tips on restoring minerals, likemagnesium, which can be lost over time and which are so critical to our health.Square Foot Gardening contains many great tips on gardening and little sidebars that aredirected at getting kids involved. If you‟re new to growing things, you will benefit frominformation on crop selection and seed-starting techniques. Other forms of growing veggies suchas containers or patio gardening are addressed as well.
Grow Biointensive GardeningJon Jeavons, who has spent the last 30 years refining the Grow Biointensive gardening model,has created an amazing system for sustainable food production that has been taught around theworld. The recommended garden beds are 5 by 20 feet.Jeavons‟ model makes it possible to create stable food production in almost any environment.For example, Kenya has about 20% more people than Canada but occupies about half the spaceof the province of Ontario. In places like Kenya the Biointensive method is perfect for growingthings because this method requires very few outside resources to start or maintain. With thepopulation density of Kenya at 174 people per square mile, everything has to come from thatarea.Jon Jeavons‟ less technical book on Biointensive gardening is called The Sustainable VegetableGarden. This shorter book is a great introduction to the grow Biointensive method. It is also auseful resource for experienced gardeners who want to know about John Jeavons‟ highlysuccessful methods but who don‟t have the time to study the more comprehensive version, Howto Grow More Vegetables. The Sustainable Vegetable Garden makes many of the key conceptssimpler to understand and put into practice. It is full of useful diagrams which will be invaluableto novices and experts alike. You don‟t just read about how to „double dig‟ a bed; there are step-by-step images to help you see exactly how it‟s done.If you are a beginner, both of these books cover just about everything you need to know, clearlyand concisely. The grow Biointensive method is a little more work in the beginning but costsslightly less to create than square foot gardening. You will probably get better results the firstyear with square foot gardening because the soils are purchased and it is a little simpler to learn.The grow Biointensive books go into more detail on the science of soils and plants. A number ofcharts and plans are included in both books for you to photocopy.Lasagna GardeningLasagna gardening is a no-dig, no-till organic gardening method that results in rich, fluffy soilwith very little work from the gardener. The name has nothing to do with what you‟ll be growingin this garden. It refers to the method of building the garden, which is, essentially, adding layersof organic materials that will “cook down” over time, resulting in rich, fluffy soil that will helpyour plants thrive. Also known as “sheet composting,” lasagna gardening is great for theenvironment, because you‟re using your yard and kitchen waste and essentially composting it inplace to make a new garden.One of the best things about lasagna gardening is how easy it is. You don‟t have to removeexisting sod and weeds. You don‟t have to double dig. In fact, you don‟t have to work the soil atall. The first layer of your lasagna garden consists of either brown corrugated cardboard or threelayers of newspaper laid directly on top of the grass or weeds in the area you‟ve selected for yourgarden. Wet this layer down to keep everything in place and start the decomposition process. Thegrass or weeds will break down fairly quickly because they will be smothered by the newspaperor cardboard, as well as by the materials you‟re going to layer on top of them. This layer also
provides a dark, moist area to attract earthworms that will loosen up the soil as they tunnel through it. Anything you‟d put in a compost pile, you can put into a lasagna garden. The materials you put into the garden will break down, providing nutrient-rich, crumbly soil in which to plant. The following materials are all perfect for lasagna gardens: Grass clippings Leaves Fruit and vegetable scraps Coffee grounds Tea leaves and tea bags Weeds (if they haven‟t gone to seed) Manure Compost Seaweed Shredded newspaper or junk mail Pine needles Spent blooms, trimmings from the garden Peat moss Just as with edible lasagna, there is some importance to the methods you use to build your lasagna garden. You‟ll want to alternate layers of “browns” such as fall leaves, shredded newspaper, peat, and pine needles with layers of “greens” such as vegetable scraps, garden trimmings, and grass clippings. In general, you want your “brown” layers to be about twice as deep as your “green” layers, but there‟s no need to get finicky about this. Just layer browns and greens, and a lasagna garden will result. What you want at the end of your layering process is a two-foot-tall layered bed. You‟ll be amazed at how much this will shrink down in a few short weeks. You can make a lasagna garden at any time of year. Fall is an optimal time for many gardeners because of the amount of organic materials you can get for free thanks to fallen leaves and general yard waste from cleaning up the rest of the yard and garden. You can let the lasagna garden sit and break down all winter. By spring, it will be ready to plant in with a minimum of effort. Also, fall rains and winter snow will keep the materials in your lasagna garden moist, which will help them break down faster. If you choose to make a lasagna garden in spring or summer, you will need to consider adding more “soil-like” amendments to the bed, such as peat or topsoil, so that you can plant in the garden right away. If you make the bed in spring, layer as many greens and browns as you can, with layers of finished compost, peat, or topsoil interspersed in them. Finish off the entire bed with three or four inches of finished compost or topsoil, and plant. The bed will settle some over the season as the layers underneath decompose. When it‟s time to plant, just dig down into the bed as you would with any other garden. If you used newspaper as your bottom layer, the shovel will most likely go right through, exposing nice,
loose soil underneath. If you used cardboard, you may have to cut a hole in it at each spot where you want to plant something. To maintain the garden, simply add mulch to the top of the bed in the form of straw, grass clippings, bark mulch, or chopped leaves. Once it‟s established, you will care for a lasagna garden just as you would any other: weed and water when necessary, and plant to your heart‟s content. While you will be maintaining a lasagna garden the same way you would care for any other garden, you will find that caring for a lasagna garden is less work-intensive. You can expect: Few weeds, thanks to the newspaper suppressing them from below and the mulch covering the soil from above. Better water retention, due to the fact that compost (which is what you made by layering all of those materials) holds water better than regular garden soil, especially if your native soil is sandy or deficient in organic matter. Less need for fertilizer, because you planted your garden in almost pure compost, which is very nutrient-rich. Soil that is easy to work: crumbly, loose, and fluffy. Lasagna gardening is fun, easy, and allows you to make new gardens at a much faster rate than the old double-digging method. Permaculture Permaculture is the study of how living things and the earth interact. It began about 50 years ago as people looked at food sustainability and considered less harmful ways to interact with the earth. Principles began to evolve that focused on how to work cooperatively with the world around us to perform a variety of functions, such as building and maintaining soil fertility and structure. Permaculture then advanced to looking at ways to catch and conserve water in the landscape as well as growing trees that yield seasonal fruits, nuts, and other foods. New ideas were created to reduce or eliminate most of the backbreaking work needed to maintain the typical lawn and garden. Now permaculture has evolved to include working in urban areas with very limited growing space. Size does not matter. The space can be as small as window box or an entire forest. Basic permaculture principles can make our surroundings more diverse, natural, productive, beautiful and best of all, less work. Some even say permaculture is an advanced form of biointensive gardening. Within a permaculture system, “wastes” become resources, productivity and yields increase, and environments are restored. By understanding the core set of design principles, individuals can design their own environments and build increasingly self-sustaining surroundings. Reducing society‟s reliance on
industrial systems of production and distribution will allow us to have a less drastic effect on theearth‟s ecosystems.Modern permaculture principles are: 1. Looking at the whole system of nature 2. Observing how everything interrelates 3. Replacing unhealthy systems with long-term sustainable working systemsThese principles involve a shift in our world view and from dependence on purchased, imported,technology-based interventions to more locally available natural solutions. One book to read ifyou‟re interested in the philosophy and techniques behind permaculture is Ken Fern‟s Plants fora Future: Edible & Useful Plants for a Healthier Planet.
COMPOSTINGIndustrial agriculture today looks a lot like strip mining. For every pound of food that isproduced by industrial agriculture, 23 pounds of soil and nutrients are lost to our waterways. Butit is possible to give back to the soil what we have taken and a little more. If you do so, naturewill give back to you abundantly. How is this possible? One way is to create loose soil so thatroots can grow twice as far and leave great nutrients in the soil. Another is to collecting organicmatter to recycle back into the soil, also known as composting. This can be one of the mostimportant practices of any grower.Compost containers come in all shapes and sizes. They convert scrap food, peelings, used soil,and plant matter into rich, fertile humus. The chief advantage of compost is its ability to improvesoil structure. Adding compost to heavy clay soil improves drainage by improving soil structure.Compost also absorbs water and improves the water-holding capacity of sandy soils. In additionto improving soil structure, decomposing compost will slowly release plant nutrients.Typical composters are open-bottomed and sit on the ground in direct contact with the earth.This allows nature – in the form of earthworms etc. – to come in and break down the organicmatter.Composting does involve a little more than simply pouring organic waste in an open-bottom box,however. Many people have tried composting out of concern for the environment and stoppedbecause of the smell created by not varying the material put into the composter. When youcompost the right mix of materials, you end up with a very rich, dark soil-like material thatsmells sweet and will do wonders for your plantsThe trick is to strike a balance between hot/green and cold/brown materials. When it comes to“brown” material, soft and small items such as leaves break down more quickly, but you can alsoadd cardboard, paper, egg boxes and pine needles along with your “green” kitchen scraps. If youhave any trees around your property, the fallen leaves are very useful in compost. It seemsstrange that people bag up leaves and send them somewhere else and then haul organic fertilizerback in the spring.All living microorganisms live on carbon in plant material combined with smaller amounts ofnitrogen. The balance of these elements in an organism is called the carbon-to-nitrogen ratio.This ratio is an important factor in determining how easily bacteria can decompose organicwaste. The microorganisms in compost use carbon for energy and nitrogen for protein synthesis.The proportion of brown to green organic material should be 2 to 1.To support several garden beds larger compost piles need to be created, but they should be nomore than five feet tall, wide or deep. First a layer of coarse material like corn stalks is put downto create good drainage. Then 6 inches of brown material is laid down, followed with about 3inches of green. Then, after a covering of soil, the whole layer is watered. That is continued untilthe pile is 5 feet high. Over a couple of months in warm climates the pile will heat up and shrinkdown to about a third of that size.
Finished compost is dark brown, crumbly, and is earthy-smelling. Small pieces of leaves or otheringredients may be visible. If the compost contains a lot of material which is not broken down, itis only partly decomposed. Adding partly decomposed compost to the soil can reduce the amountof nitrogen available to plants. The microorganisms will continue to decompose but will use soilnitrogen for their own growth, restricting the nitrogen‟s availability to plants growing nearby. Ifyou choose to use compost that has not completely decomposed, one option is to add extranitrogen (such as in manure or commercial fertilizer) to ensure that growing plants will not sufferfrom a nitrogen deficiency.
BUYING GROUPSAre you sick of the quality and cost of food today? Well, sorry; it‟s probably not going to getbetter – not if you keep buying it from stores. For decades, food has been linked to cheap energycosts. That is a thing of the past.Consider starting a buying group with others. This can seriously improve both the quality of thefood (i.e. organic in most cases) and the cost per unit. Organic seeds, grains and beans can bepurchased in quantities of 10 kg or more.In the course of a year we go through large quantities of seeds for sprouting. You will find beingpart of a buying group saves money and makes organic seeds quite affordable. In fact, buyinggood quality organic seeds and beans and then sprouting them is the best way we can suggest toget nutritional value for your money. It provides the best return in as little as a couple of days.Several websites encourage buying groups. A good example is www.Foodcoops.org. They offereverything you need to create a buyers‟ group. They have created PDF‟s outlining how to createa buyers‟ group in schools, high schools and at work. We would add churches and other serviceorganizations to that list of options for recruiting members and coordinating distribution.How do you start? Get people to read books about how food can make or break your health. Wethink the list in the second half of our book The World’s Organic Solution is a good place tostart. Gather several people who are open to new ideas and discuss the topic during lunch orother times. Once the group members are committed to the concept of upgrading their diet, thenthe PDF manuals mentioned above will provide the answers to everyone‟s questions.This could be ideal for those who have no time or interest in growing anything but still want toreplace at least a third of their diet with foods of the highest nutrient density to offset the deadfood they tend to consume. The upgrade in quality is worth it. If we didn‟t grow so much of ourown high-nutrient food all year round, we would easily buy a quarter box of organic kale twice aweek. That would form the basis of daily green smoothies and large batches of soup.Buyers‟ groups may also wish to purchase different types of fresh, organic fruit. Many thingslike bananas can be frozen, so it is advantageous to buy larger amounts.All it takes is someone with a bit of leadership to get the ball rolling. Everyone will be happierand healthier.
BLENDING AND JUICINGSometimes people like the idea of improving the nutrient density of their diets but don‟t knowhow. Here‟s a hint: blenders and juicers are your friends.If you have read The World Organics Solution, you will already know that Victoria Boutenko,author of Green for Life, is one of our heroes. She has taken the simplest solution to all healthproblems and tested it to the point where a large following around the world is starting to notice.Be sure to read her story in The World Organics Solution. It‟s free online on our website. Thereare also lots of videos and stories about Victoria on the web.In the past, people would trek half way around the world in search of health. Green smoothiesare the five-minute answer for the masses. After all, if we can‟t do it in a few minutes, itprobably will not become habit forming.The basic idea is to start with about three handfuls of the highest-nutrient live foods like topscoring leaves (i.e. kales) and add enough fruit so that you really like the taste. Then, blend itwith a bit of good water for less than a minute. It‟s that simple.As we mentioned in our book review, this is the biggest boost you can give to your immunesystem. Leaves, being a live food, have more micro-nutrients that we even understand. They arereally living factories, and having all those resources inside our cells has to be beneficial for ourbodies.We feel the greatest asset in a kitchen is a good blender. The best ones are expensive but have atwo horsepower motor. If money is an issue, there are a few blenders that are 1000 watts that arequite reasonably priced and can do a pretty good job. As we mentioned in our other book, peopleinvolved in most of our projects in Africa would walk miles to have any blender to make a greensmoothie. For them it is the difference between sickness and health.For those who are interested in growing wheat grass, there is another option: juicing. There arehundreds of stories of people who pulled back from the edge of unrecoverable health problemsby taking a couple of ounces of raw wheatgrass juice a day. The juicer of choice, we think, ishand powered. We use them in Africa as part of the medical intervention in our projects. Thedevice is appropriately called the Healthy Juicer and usually sells for around $50 to $60. Thisunit is super simple to clean, which in my mind is key. It takes a little longer to make juice thanthe blender, but the cleanup makes up for it.Winters here in Canada can be difficult for those who love fresh, live food. For us growing asmall amount of wheat grass to juice and adding that to fresh sprouts with perhaps a fewpurchased greens all blended with some great fruit gets us where we want to go in the off season.As we travel to countries that have some pretty serious diseases, having an average immunesystem is not an option. That‟s why I have no problems investing some time in a little healthinsurance through the best possible diet.
“OK, YOU‟VE CONVINCED ME. WHAT SHOULD I DO NOW?”Change does not come easy. Planning to continue learning for a lifetime is a good approach.With that in mind, there are 10 steps I would recommend to someone just starting out. 1. Get a real grip on reality and build your diet around live foods not taste. Even though our bodies are amazing, everything falls apart if neglected. We think a reasonable goal is to try and triple the nutrients in your diet over a couple of years. There is a direct correlation between documented increases in health problems and altered and processed foods. The nutrient density chart pretty much tells it all. Most of the commonly eaten foods in Canada have a third of the nutrients we need, and tripling your nutrient intake doesn‟t have to cost you one penny more than what you are spending right now. 2. Experiment with sprouts. It is easy and you will receive a good return on your efforts. There is great research to support their value. Sprouted cookies and biscuits are great with soups or snacks, and sprouts taste good when combined with soups, too. 3. Get a good blender and experiment with blended salads with sprouts and lots of fruit to completely hide any tastes you don‟t like. Combine sprouting with the blender and you can easily save a dollar a day to change the world. We use our blender daily for smoothies. You can also make delicious things like sprouted hummus and great healthy almond milk. We‟ve all heard people talk about the value of a bowl of porridge in the morning. Why not up the nutrients 10 times by sprouting the oats and then blending them with some honey and cinnamon for a really good stick-to-your ribs breakfast? Lastly, blended soups with lentil sprouts are super easy to make and again offer the best value for your dollar. 4. If you do not have even a 4 x 8 ft. area for gardening, consider potted plants, or micro greens/wheat grass. Micro greens and wheat grass require just twice the growing time of sprouts and do not need to take up much space. 5. If you have space, create a couple of smaller raised garden beds. It doesn‟t matter which model you use. Look for whatever attracts you. Square foot is the most manicured, biointensive is the most advanced organically, and lasagna is great if you have lots of trees and you want to reuse the organic matter that is there. I use all three and love to compare. Do not underestimate how much food you can grow in even a small 10x10 garden. 6. Look at moving toward growing plants that are more permanent and like each other. Examples are small fruit trees, berry bushes and perennial herbs. 7. Watch the whole organic cycle of life and observe how easy it is to work with nature. For example, when leaves fall in flower and growing beds, leave them there and cover the whole bed with a thin layer of compost in the spring to make it look better. Try not to disturb the soil but let the organic material simply increase. Look for plants that seem to like being together.
8. Capture rainwater if you can and redirect it to where it is needed most. As a property matures, the plants do not need as much rain because the perennials have deeper roots.9. Spread the good news of super simple disease prevention and consider buying seeds or fruit in bulk with others.10. Be thankful for the amazing quality of life that has been provided for us.
THE ECONOMICS OF CHANGING THE WORLD ONE COMMUNITY AT A TIMEMost Canadians spend between six and 10 dollars a day for food. On average that would be aminimum of a dollar for breakfast, two for lunch and three for supper if made at home. Peoplewho buy their lunch every day spend that on lunch alone.Even the most frugal Canadians, then, spend almost $2,200 a year for food per person. Guesshow much it costs to transform a whole village living in extreme poverty in a developingcountry? Just $500 per year. After claiming the tax deduction here in Canada, the cost per day tosupport a program like that is $1.Using the methods outlined here, we can shave a dollar a dayoff our food bill to help change the world while at the same time greatly increasing the nutrientsin our own diet.Everyone is busy, so the idea of a doing a garden might seem like one more thing on the list ofthings that never get done. As I have said so many times, growing sprouts takes minutes a dayand can easily boost your nutrients. By adding sprouts to soups, smoothies, salads, cookies,sandwiches and a great-tasting hummus you can shave at least 15% off your food costs whileeating tastier, healthier food. There you have what it takes to transform a whole communitysomewhere in the world. Excited About Even More Change? Consider the Family G.O.A.L. ProgramOur G.O.A.L program stands for Gardens of African Love. Using the resources mentionedabove, this GROWING HEATH program encourages families and individuals in North Americato get healthy and save money through simple backyard gardening What Can You Gain from Starting a GOAL? Invaluable lessons for kids about the value of global caring A lifetime of health here and Africa Environmental benefits (no renewable energy needed) Quality organic food to eat The chance to change the world at no extra cost International friendships with those in sponsored communities Ask about becoming a Growing Health GOAL Volunteer