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Probiotics 101

Probiotics 101



Probiotic Farming is a process of using good microbes for growing crops and regenerate soils instead of using synthetic chemicals that will kill insects, damage soil and the surrounding environment, and damage water supplies. The goal of the probiotic farmer is not only to not pollute, but to also remediate the growing area …even the surrounding area…and leave it in a better condition than when the grower originally found it. The process of using organisms to clean up the environment is known as “bioremediation”. It is not a term normally used in farming. Strangely, the two fields are normally not used in conjunction and often the farmer is targeted as a polluter and the environmental engineer as the one who saves the planet. Using probiotic methods the farmer can completely avoid the polluting aspect and, because they are using high amounts of probiotics, their practices will actually clean anything the areas they are growing in. Additionally, the liquids from their farming practices (runoff) will carry the probiotics in them and become a beneficial runoff…cleaning the environment. With probiotic farming the farmer is the one who saves the planet.

The origins of Effective Microorganisms® go back to the 1960’s when Dr. Teruo Higa, then a researcher in the agrochemical industry, had started feeling sick from exposure to chemicals he was making for farms. Dr. Higa grew up on a farm and growing crops was a passion of his. He did not like seeing farmers becoming more and more dependent on these chemicals and wanted to look into a natural alternative. At this time many people were looking at microbes in environmental applications as well as in crops. He started working on formulas of microbes, combing various strains and repeating applications. He eventually came up with a formula that contained 5 different genus of microbes (over 50 strains). Due to how it worked, he called it “Effective Microorganisms” and started making it available for sale in 1982. EM•1® has been on the market now for 34 years.

Because EM•1® helps plants grow, builds soils, and breaks down several chemicals, it fits perfectly in with the concept of Probiotic Farming. There have also been several studies over the years, including a 10-year study on mycohrrizae, that demonstrate how using EM•1® can increase the efficiency of nutrient usage and increases the growth of other beneficial microbes. Some of these studies also include remediation of soils and water (rivers, lakes, even parts of the ocean). All aspects of applications result in beneficial effects downstream from where the EM•1® is applied. EM•1® is the “probiotic” in Probiotic Farming.[/boxright]This article appears in the April/May 2016 issue of SKUNK Magazine.

JACK HERER AND EDDY LEPP put me on the path I am today. It was Jack’s idea to begin using probiotic methods. He was writing a mushroom book at the time. Jack had learned the benefits of probiotics in gardening and decided to hire someone to teach me how to make EM® bokashi. (Bokashi is a Japanese term meaning “fermented organic matter” see the TeraGanix website for details about Bokashi.

Effective Mircoorganisms® is a liquid mixture of 30+ species of microorganisms, namely Lactic Acid Bacteria, Yeast, and Photosynthetic Bacteria. It is a super probiotic developed by Dr. Teruo Higa, a professor of horticulture from Okinawa, Japan back in the 1960’s. It was originally developed to help ween farmers’ crops off their chemical dependence and revive worn out soils. It is now in use on 6 continents and the uses are far-reaching into animal health, human health, and for cleaning soil, water, and other wastes…including radioactive wastes such as projects in Belarus and Fukushima. Bokashi, an ancient method of fermenting crop residue was combine with EM® some time in the 1980’s, creating what is known as EM® Bokashi. Traditionally the basic recipe is made with rice or wheat bran, molasses, EM•1® Microbial Inoculant and water. The materials are mixed, fermented for several weeks, then dried. The bokashi is used to amend soils, adding nutrients, microbes, and carbon all in one shot.

“It will clean up the land,” Jack said, “along with a host of other benefits.”

Eddy had hired Simran Rafael from Sonoma to teach me how to make bokashi using Effective Microorganisms®, or EM•1®, at the Healing Fields, one of the largest medicinal grow sights in Lake County, California. This was the ministry’s 3rd grow at The Healing Fields and we were all interested in preserving the land. I turned the cold frame greenhouse into a bokashi drying area and made bokashi for the entire project. The concept of “Probiotic Farming” was born in the Emerald Triangle at Area 101, the concept created a paradigm shift in all gardens all across The Emerald Triangle.

By incorporating natural inputs with probiotics we discovered a way to garden better with nature. With Probiotic Farming we would leave things in a more positive state after growing crops and still be able to hit the numbers that synthetic growers were hitting…all without using any of the nasty synthetic chemicals that would make you sick. We could farm and leave the field better than it was before we got there. It was like blessing the land with our finest fermentation.

We have to look back to nature… When all of this started I was still making the traditional EM Bokashi recipe.  Later on that year in 2007 I had a dream that put all the pieces together. After my brother introduced me to the Earth Box sub-irrigated planter concept. I dreamed of solutions to many of humanity’s problems using concepts of biomimicry and ancestral farming techniques.

Combining anaerobic bokashi fermentation with concepts like the Earth Box, we could save 70% of the water and nutrient needs of todays farms and grow virtually anywhere! That means that people could be fed with a lot less resources than are currently used. With farming science from our ancestors, we can create rainforests rather than the continual desertification of our earth’s crust.

The concept of Gro-Kashi International began in 2007, when we started teaching bokashi-making at the Emerald Cup, in Area 101. As a probiotic company we believe in sharing our ideas and our methods to everyone. We are just happy to make it for those that do not have the same resources as I.

I beta tested the product and continued to improve the product from plain EM Bokashi into a fermentation made for growers. Three years ago 2007the Bobo Shanti Rastafarians began growing several gardens with Gro-Kashi. The word spread and Priest Daniel gave the name meditation herb to the high that only could be achieved through the use of probiotics.

Around 4 years ago 2011, we began researching epigenetics, the idea that genes do not determine our fate, and the concept that nutrition can restore infertility and prevent disease. I realized that if plants did not have these basic essential nutrients within our soil, it was impossible for we as humans and animals to obtain them from the plants we consume. From this concept, new ingredients and formulations were introduced to improve Gro-Kashi and make it a complete nutrient source for plants.

By following principles of bio-mimicry, we improved our Probiotic Farming methods. By observing herd animals and deer, we discovered that amending the earth with fermentations, the life that preserves food, keeps the soil in a regenerative stage. By adding sub-irrigation methods, we allowed plants to grow endlessly, without fear of drying out. We also collect the morning dew in our fermentations to introduce indigenous microorganisms from the area.

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Our beta test group, The Probiotic Farmers Alliance really helped us dial in the end product. Between myself and the Gage Green Group, we started an amazing group that analyzed all the information with a fine comb and could take the information to the next level. By using scientific methods, and justifying our findings with peer reviewed sources, the PFA created a wealth of information that was once unknown to medicinal gardeners. Since then, the Probiotic Farming method has evolved into something we could never accomplish on my own.

Although Probiotic Farming is still young, we believe that we are doing something truly beneficial to the earth. Not only are costs saved, but also environmental damage and the use of toxins can be eliminated if we switch to completely probiotic methods. Let us put the toxic gardens behind us. Now that we have proven the superiority of Probiotic Farming we must share the wealth of health.


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