My penny’s worth…
I cannot remember a time over the past 8 years that I have NOT had a quick or otherwise reasonable reply from a wonderful moderator – and I would lose track of how many questions I’ve asked that required lengthy individual replies. Multiply my requests with a few thousand (Gardening Group) members and you soon realize that it takes a lot of sacrifice and time from one’s schedule to do it, especially when he receives no salary whatsoever! And Jim doesn’t only answer questions to Emails.
It just so happens that Jim voluntarily took on that role. It is with only fond memories that I have walked this long time with the Mittleider Method. Jim has made a huge difference since he started working with Dr. Mittleider more than three decades ago. He has done a wonderful work of making all of Dr. Mittleider’s materials available to the world and I take my hat off for that. It must have taken many hundreds of hours of time to accomplish.
Then there were all the video lectures and presentations that had to be done – what a marvelous work!! Also part of this technology age is to make things available in electronic format! There was the Mittleider Library CD – amazingly simple to just pay for it and get it – but who made it all possible?! There is the Food For Everyone Foundation’s website that had to be organized and set up – I have seen it grow and improve over the years.
There is the time it takes to run FFEF as a charitable foundation; that should be a job in itself! There are interviews, video presentations, marketing, and the lot. I take my hat off for anybody that has helped him in his work – the materials, the bagged fertilizers and instructions, the creation of all the different media formats, the Garden Wizard and Garden Master software – they all combine to make the MM something to be truly proud of.
Now start counting all of the humanitarian missions that Jim has organized and personally conducted. Presenting of full-time intensive gardening training for 3 months at a time, and at the same time answering Group questions while sometimes in countries where internet access is VERY limited!
His work has always been hands-on! He is always out there, in the sun and rain working with the people he serves so faithfully. And much of this happens without us knowing about it.
Jim has never NOT taken his work and responsibility seriously. Many thousands of people have felt of his spirit through the work. How many people would sacrifice of their time like he does – I don’t know, but I feel men like Jim are few and far between. Besides this, Jim is also a family man who has been through some hard times. But time and again he has picked up his work and continued faithfully.
A lot of the work he is involved in is repetitive; I have yet to see a more patient man. He has been patient in schooling me from half way around the world and no doubt the same is true for many others! He has chosen many times over not to take the easy way out.
As a method claiming to be the best of organic Jim has had to stand his ground many times over and educate people to the truth. Many people have faith and hope that what they are taught is correct. Let me add my thoughts on that:
Dr. Jacob Mittleider was every bit as remarkable a man as is Jim. His teachings on agriculture are great! But even greater was his discipline in taking this gardening knowledge to the rest of the world, for which he received multiple honorary degrees from Universities on several continents.
Dr. Mittleider had an insatiable appetite for learning, experimenting and teaching. He and his gardening materials stood the test of time, but after many years of hard physical work at age 77 he could not continue. His mind no doubt was willing but his body was getting weak. That was when Jim took over full-time. I cherish a personal letter Dr. Mittleider sent me not long before he passed away at age 86. To his last days Dr. Mittleider was actively working to improve the method he had worked on his whole life.
Jim learned a tremendous amount from him and I’m so grateful that he stepped in to be the one to expand and transfer that knowledge to you and me. To his last days Jacob would help Jim work out some of the complexities.
From an agricultural or horticultural perspective I know the Mittleider literature is sound. Jacob and Jim have really condensed a 4-yr horticultural course down to a few months of schooling. Many students have commented that they have learned more about growing food from the 3-month training than from their 3 or 4-yr study.
I understand how they could say that – the results of healthy gardens and crops being produced speak for themselves.
There are many growing systems out there – most of them have their own proprietary
mixes, expensive equipment, etc., and produce good results, but you often have to spend a lot of money to get it going. The Mittleider Method is all it purports to be. Years of experimenting have allowed Jacob Mittleider to learn true principles and laws of plant growth, and to best work out the amounts of fertilizers needed to keep most plants happily growing.
In so doing anybody can now follow a recipe and make up a mix of nutrients for their plants without having to go through extensive study and experimenting to learn why it has to be like that. Both Grow-Boxes and soil-beds make it available to all. Not many methods are out there that combine the best of the best to bring forth an affordable option for even the poorest of countries.
It is truly a remarkable system – and the more we learn about it the more things just make sense! The materials to make a success out of gardening are all there, with simple recipes.
Like humans do we sometimes want to take short-cuts and then we burn our fingers. And
even when following a recipe we sometimes end up with something unexpected – but that is how we learn. I try to follow my Grandmother’s recipes to the T but often they turn out not as good.
You get a feel for things when you repeat them. And so I think it is with gardening. The more you do it the more successful you get. Or like Gary Player said – the more I practice my golf the luckier I get.
I will be very sad the day Jim leaves the gardening sphere – it will be a huge and sad loss. I hope that someone will be able to take the reigns over from him and continue a most wonderful job when that day comes. But I know it will be difficult to fill the shoes of a man like Jim. The world is a better place for the work he has done to this day.
I could not write a 100’th part of the experiences I have shared and what I have learned over the years from, and about Jim; but let this stand as my witness, and as a SMALL token of appreciation for the work Jim has done. Jim, I thank you for that from the bottom of my heart and with the deepest of gratitude.
Hein van Kralingen (Master’s Degree in Plant Pathology)
Regional Horticulture Climate Change Adaptation Officer
Farm Services Victoria l Department of Primary Industries
* Private Bag 1 Tatura VIC 3616
( (03) 5833 5311 ? (03) 5833 5337 (Fax)
È 0419 549 852