Thursday, December 29, 2011

Mel's Minute

Our very first two-day symposium, in 2004 here in Eden, Utah, was a great success. It all started when a lady from Minnesota wrote to say she wanted to start a small home business utilizing SFG and how could she get certified. Within a few days a teacher from California wrote to ask how she could expand her SFG classroom experience and start sharing this with other teachers so they could include SFG in their classroom work.
I thought by golly, I am going to hold a two-day symposium and invite others, but it all has to happen very quickly, so I should be prepared to teach just these two people if they’re the only ones to come. Well, they did come, and so did twelve others, we had fourteen people at our very first ever symposium. They came from all walks of life and all for a different reason. Now this symposium wasn’t to teach people how to Square Foot Garden, it was to show those that already know how to Square Foot Garden , but want to do something with it. And that desire ranged from a small part-time business out of their home, to all kinds of humanitarian projects around the world. The end result was, one person going to India to teach Square Meter Gardening. Another person went to Africa to teach homeless and orphaned children how to raise their own crops. Another couple from California, who are also going to a different part of Africa for a humanitarian project. Another couple from California are going to teach all of the different subjects taught in school by an association with SFG and how this can be made into a fun project for the children in a classroom situation. Another couple from California are also going to work in a school system as well as interest in various humanitarian projects. Several of the people will be doing neighborhood type work and several will end up with a small business of speaking and teaching in their town about SFG. So, all in all, the results were quite amazing and very gratifying for us.
And the beat goes on, year after year, we hold more Symposiums (now 3 days) and Certify more and more people. It has been very gratifying to me to see this happen and I feel that you, our Certified SFG Teachers are the backbone and lifeline of our Foundation. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart and keep up the good work. You will make a big difference in this world. See you on my blog          Happy New Year & Keep up the good work.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Mel's Minute

$ Making Money $

There are lots of ways to make money with SFG. Sometimes really big money! It’s helpful but not necessary to have small plots of land and you don’t have to go to a farmer’s market either. But we’ll talk about those later.
To me, the best way to make money is to teach. Everyone that starts any new project or hobby wants to learn. Once you become certified, you are the person that can teach them. All you have to do is think: why, how, when, where.
So let’s take each one of these. Young, new or even old gardeners are not all alike. They will all quickly see advantages of SFG. No work, no weeds, no tools, no nothin’. But they want to learn and they need a teacher.
They can read a book. They can watch a video but there’s nothing like an enthusiastic person that give them the excitement of first hand learning. It can start in the classroom. It can go through a workshop and then move to the outdoors. It can be in your garden, their newly created garden or a central teaching garden. Using your imagination! You’ll figure out how to attract them.
Ask yourself, “Where do they gather currently?” Where do they go now to learn something new? Schools all have classes. There’s even continuing education at night at universities for the neighborhood. Another idea would be to think of where gardening equipment, plants and paraphernalia are sold. Another idea is to of where aspiring gardeners gather? And that could be clubs that specialize in gardening of any kind. A rose society or an African violet society would perk up and be very interested in a talk on SFG. Not necessarily to grow roses and African violets, but because that’s where gardening people gather and want to learn new things. Sometimes these locations already have a program for speakers with fees and arrangements and other times you have to create interest and find a location for yourself.
What happens at the end of every garden lecture or workshop? What does most of the audience say? I hope you are thinking, “Where can I buy the book? Where can I watch the video? Where can I buy the supplies? Who can I get to help me? Do you also teach children? Do you have anything for handicapped or elderly?” Your answer of course is “Yes. Yes. Yes. And finally Yes.” You can do it all. The world is waiting for you, so decide with determination to do something with your diploma. Help others, and make the world a better place.
To be continued . . .Mel

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Mel's Minute: Now is the Time to Think About Next Spring

Re: A Choice of Subjects
Earn Extra Money
Start a New Business
Become a SFG Spokesperson

Want to do any of the above? There are opportunities galore for a certified SFG teacher. When I first started developing sales of products as well as talks and workshops when I first came to Utah twelve years ago, I went to several nice looking nurseries (and a few not so nice). I offered them the idea of teaching square foot garden classes and workshops on their site. And we worked out a deal where they would advertise, promote and give us their lecture space. They would also furnish a helper who would collect the money and sell the books. We split the lecture fee with them anywhere from 50/50 up to 80/20. And we got all the income for the book and video sales the first night. Thereafter they bought wholesale from us for future customers. It was a new subject in the area and a new method to everyone so they liked the idea of being in at the start. They of course sold many other supplies and it boosted their recognition in the industry and neighborhood.

Have you thought of doing that? It’s a big money maker. It is also a real good feeling to teach all these interested people something new and different. Then just a year ago a new opportunity opened for SFG. I had been twice to two different nurseries in Nevada. They were close by and competitors. They seemed intent on outdoing the other concerning SFG. The latest was the last one got the idea of starting a community garden on some unused property right behind his nursery. He built boxes and filled them with Mel’s mix. Put grids on and offered them for rent to the town’s population. They filled up quickly and he found he was now making money in the summer and fall, which is an extremely slow period for nurseries. He also found that every time they came to work in their garden, and comingle with their neighbors, everyone bought something. Sometimes he just cold drinks but often new plants and things for their home garden. The participants really like the idea because they were in a garden setting, had experts nearby and they always had a very good time on every visit.

Do you like that idea? You could go to any local nursery and tell them you will set something like that up and run it for them and you would share in the income. You could start with talks and then workshops and the opportunity to speak by request to other organizations like rotary or local church or school. All those offers would start coming in. Now of course, we are not doing all of this for the money but it doesn’t hurt to get paid for work you love to do.

I’d love to hear from you if you have other ideas about spreading the word and staring a small business. What has worked for you? And, would you share that with everyone else. We can write it up or include it in our newsletter. Now is a good time to think about next spring. And to start making some contacts for future opportunities. Please share me with me your reaction and any thoughts you might have. Just send them to Belinda who will collect all ideas and forward them on to me. Best Wishes, Mel

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

SFG Humanitarian Efforts in Ecuador & Peru

It first started with a trip I took to the Self-sufficiency conference at Brigham Young University. During the Networking trip, I was able to connect to several important organizations that have an understanding of Square Foot Gardening (have either worked with us in the past or know of what we do) One of the contacts I was able to make was with the Institute for Self Reliance in Agriculture (SRA).

Over the next few weeks and months, I have kept in contact with these company and provided them some feedback on some of the projects they have been trying to put together. During my conversations with Mel, he has been talking about expanding my role to more marketing and getting the word out of what we do. Working with these types of organizations has been pivotal in helping us truly reach our ultimate goal of helping to end world hunger.

SRA called me about a month ago and told me that they are starting operation of two major projects. One in Ecuador where they have been working for several years and one in Peru where they are just starting. They told me that through their conversations with me, they have become more and more convinced that the Square Foot Gardening Model needs to be incorporated in what they do. They asked me if I would come to Ecuador to teach their staff how to do our system. They offered to cover my trip costs so that the foundation would not have to pay for my travel costs. I agreed. I flew down on the 9th of august and spent a week in Ibarra and surrounding villages.

(Traveling through Ecuador)

They took me on tour to the projects they have been putting together and asked me to show them how to improve the model they have. They have a combination Garden/Livestock model that has as it’s ultimate goal, first and foremost the Nutrition of the family, and then the commercialization of the surplus food. I really like their philosophy because it’s the same as ours. Take care of your family first, then worry about the rest. They use standard row gardens using a multi-crop system to increase the variety of crops raised. They include crops for the family and crops for growing small animals (including Guinea pigs, goats, chickens and rabbits).

They are currently working with about 50 families that live in rural regions and teaching them how to be self-sufficient. I taught the staff in Ecuador how to do Square Foot Gardening properly. I also took them out to a lot of land that had been given to them by the local university and showed them how to set up their gardens in a much more efficient manner than they had been doing.

(Me Teaching at the Ministry of Agriculture)

They loved the system so much that they asked me to come speak to the Local regional government, whom they were meeting the next day. I agreed and we went and met with the regional governor. After a very good meeting, he asked me us (SRA and myself) to speak at a town meeting they would be speaking at that evening.

They had been given $185,000 from the federal government to start a nutrition-based program in the area. They had put together some ideas and were going to teach it at this town meeting.

(teaching families the SFG system)

So we went to it and the governor allows us to take over the meeting. SRA talked about their program and then they turned the time over to me to show them how to set up SFG’s. The meeting went great. After the meeting, the governor came to us and said this: “This is exactly what we should be doing. We are going to stop our program and restart it using SRA’s and SFG’s systems!”

So SRA is going to teach the SFG system to their government employees and they will take it 70 families they are going to be working with. That whole meeting went so well (especially that I was able to teach everything in Spanish) that next, they wanted me to meet with the Department of Agriculture. They made an appointment and I went down to speak at the Department. It was supposed to be just me and the department head, but he got wind of what we were doing and brought in all his nutritionists, agronomists, etc and had me teach them all the principles of Square Foot Gardening. The meeting went so well, that they would like SRA (who is implementing our method) to come back and teach the whole Department how to do this. They want us part of a pilot program they are starting for the whole country!

If that wasn’t enough, we then met with the regional representative of the United Nations that has several programs going on in the area as well. After talking with them and showing our success, they are interested in us teaching their agronomists how to do this so they can take it across the country with their programs. After that, we went and toured many villages and met with many families in which I showed the family (and helped the staff teach them the SFG method). This whole experience happened in the space of a little over a week. August 9-18th.

An interesting footnote here. We got a chance to tour some ancient pyramids while we were here. What was interesting was that the people taking care of them have learned how these ancient people lived and have strived to live the same way. One of the things they learned is that these ancient people did a lot of gardening. The method they used is what is being used now and it is interesting because it is a raised bed, intensive method that very closely resembles something we have seen before. Yep, SFG!

(Doesn’t this look familiar?)

SRA was so excited, that they asked me
to stay for another week and go to Peru and teach their staff with the new program they have as well. So the next week (Aug 19th-25th) I went to Peru. We went to Piura and I spend the next week doing much the same. We toured many villages and met with officials of the 2nd Largest University in Peru, where we signed a contract to get a plot of land to create a demonstration garden, showing off what SRA can do. I outlined a designed several SFG’s for the demonstration garden as well.

The staff in this office was much more used to doing office work than field work, so I had them build SFG’s all over the place. We built SFG’s at many homes and showed the staff how simple and efficient it was. The great thing is that we built all these gardens and total cost of building the SFG’s was ZERO! We used the local materials at hand to create the boxes, local materials to create compost piles and improve the soil (here we teach using compost since peat most and Vermiculite are impossible to come by) By this time, SRA decided that instead of just being a part of their program, Square Foot Gardens needed to be lesson 1. So now they have altered their lessons and have made our gardening technique their number one lesson!

(Making a Difference in people’s lives with SFG!)

I came back from this trip with a renewed appreciation for the beautiful country we have and the tremendous opportunities that we have here. This trip has helped to continue to fulfill Mel’s ultimate vision of helping to end world hunger. The square Foot Gardening method will be taught across two large countries by various organizations that have learned directly from us. I cannot even begin to imagine the impact we will have on the lives of so many people here. So in total, I spent two weeks creating programs across two countries and taught probably 500 people.
-Alan Silva,SFG Business Manager

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

SFG Teachers are Our Future

Mel and the SFGF staff believe that the certified teachers are the key to the future success of SFGF. As you teach others at home and abroad and build gardens for your families and communities, you are spreading the knowledge of SFG. You are involved in a grass roots movement that builds self reliance and even saves lives. Since the future of SFGF is recruiting and training more teachers, we are now offering opportunities for our teachers to host SFG Group Certification Classes. All you need to do is round up 6 people or more who want to become certified. They will receive their teacher kit at a discounted rate. The host will earn money for sponsoring the class and everyone will benefit by learning together in a series of sessions. If you would like to host a class in your hometown contact Belinda at

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Samaritan Women receives SFGF Display Grant

Here is Kim Roman and the Pyramid Bed that the Foundation donated and the 2 other beds that she donated to The Samaritan Women in Baltimore.
TSW will house women who have made poor lifestyle choices, who were trafficked into the sex trade and will also house 6 homeless women veterans.

TSW is farming a couple of their 23 acres, selling some at a local farmer’s market, some to the public at their facility and donating the overage to shelters and families in need in the neighborhood.

These three beds plus several other demonstration beds will be used to teach the public.
One day of the Baltimore symposium will be held at The Samaritan Women property

Thursday, May 5, 2011

SC Symposium & Homeless Helping Homeless

Stephen Gibbs first contacted SFGF in March requesting a visit from Mel for the grand opening of the new Homeless Helping Homeless Square Foot Gardens in Columbia South Carolina. Stephen's enthusiasm for this event spread quickly throughout the SFGF staff and soon travel plans were made including a 3 day symposium. Mel was planning to go but unfortunately was unable to because of his fall. SFGF staff was undaunted and with Mel's encouragement carried out the plans on April 28-30. Scholarships to the symposium were awarded to Charles W. Witherspoon and William Sweat. They along with Stephen Gibbs began the HHH Square Foot Gardens just one month ago. When the symposium visited the site they had many nice boxes already in place with vegetables growing. Attendees helped to make Mel's Mix, pinch tomato shooters and even turn compost. Stephen has been very proactive in getting a lot of help and donations from the community. He plans to make a patio on the HHH garden site to hold a barbecue for the Mayor cooking the vegetables grown there.

Stephen Gibbs & William Sweat

RIGHT-William Sweat, Stephen Gibbs & Charles Witherspoon,now all SFG certified teachers, worked to begin this community garden for the Homeless

Friday, April 8, 2011

35 Year SFG Celebration

Plans are in the works for a big reunion at Disneyworld in Florida this summer. It will celebrate the 35th anniversary of Mel presenting SFG to the world in 1976. It will be a 3 day celebration around July 4 for anyone that loves SFG. Save that time now to be with Mickey and Mel! More coming soon!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Spring Fling Contest!

Enter your Spring poem, photo or adaption of the stock power point to win! Teachers will be the judges! Victoria will award $20 SFG gift certificate for best poem and best photo. The best Power point will receive a FREE CASE of SFG books! 10 All New,5 cook and 5 original. Send your entry to

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Square Foot Gardening 101

Check out this excellent SlideShare Presentation by Linna Ferguson: