The European Union defines bio-intensive as eco-functional intensification. The idea is to take a natural process and make it more efficient with the goal of enhancing food production.

It takes Great Nature around 10,000 years to produce an inch of topsoil. We can speed this process up to produce an inch of topsoil in around a year. How do we do this? Put 10,000 years worth of mulched leaf litter on a bed each year!

In other words, Mother Nature only composts with the leaves that fall on a piece of ground, maybe a fraction of an inch. What happens if you put three feet of mulched leaves and grass clippings on each growing bed?

Sir Albert Howard found out what happens. Large applications of Indore compost improves soil structure and the depth of topsoil increases. This illustrates the principle of eco-functional intensification which enhances natural processes to get increased yet balanced food production.

The above picture from a BC government soil management handbook, shows how bio-intensive practices leads to healthy soil. Unhealthy soil has a compaction zone that restricts root growth.

Beneficial farming practices build healthy soil but industrial farming practices destroy soil health. Bio-intensive principles and research still needs to be translated into effective farming practices. This is true for BC and Canada and the world. Young farmers are eager to learn these bio-intensive practices. Society would be wise to support them.

BC cannot build organic food security without teaching bio-intensive farming practices to young urban farmers. Bio-intensive research now exists which can help small urban farmers increase production to meet strong demand.

Our common challenge is to teach these bio-intensive practices to young farmers over the next 3-5 years, before all the old farmers retire.

Can we apply bio-intensive principles to the task of training enough urban farmers?