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THE BIO-INTENSIVE URBAN GARDENING SERIES- EPISODE 5

It is no longer news that one of our corporate responsibilities is to contribute significantly to global food security and hunger eradication. Thankfully, our lesson for last week addressed ways we can contribute to food sustainability using Bio-intensive or Organic farming. Did you miss the lesson? Click here to get updated.

That said, may I ask you this question, did you know that we can grow up to 70% of our food needs using Bio-intensive method?

This week we are discussing Calorie crops. Calorie crops are food crops which are calorie-dense, examples are grains, cereal, potatoes and so on

Unfortunately, many do not know their daily calories intake, that is, they are not aware of the average amount of calories needed for the normal functioning of their body on a daily basis.

For example, when you consume a meal consisting of two wraps of Banku with Groundnut soup and Tilapia plus two pieces of beef along with a carbonated drink, all in one sitting, what is the total calories you have consumed? Have you ever sat down to calculate?

Others may take two wraps of Fufu with Egusi soup plus the ‘orisirisi’- Fish, intestine- and a bottle of big Coke at one meal, what is the total calories consumed? Have you ever thought of that?

Funnily enough, once the calories consumed are higher than what the body needs, the system automatically draws the amount it needs and discharges the surplus. However, when we eat enough calories in a varied diet, we are most certain of getting enough proteins and energy that the body requires.

Riding on the above knowledge, when you think of engaging in gardening or farming, you must consider crops that will provide the whole needed calories in a given area.

For example, beans provides a lot of calories per kg but it takes comparatively more space to grow enough beans to provide our needed calories. While on the other hand, we can get more sweet potatoes (quantity) from a given area than cowpea, meaning that sweet potatoes will produce a lot more calories in a given area than when bean seeds are planted on the same size of land.

The above becomes possible because sweet potatoes produce a higher yield per unit area than beans. The Bio-intensive average yield for sweet potatoes is about 100kg per 100square feet while cowpea is around 5kg per 100 square feet. The question now is, do you know how many kg of calories are present in each kg of crops that you eat or cook with? Having the right answer will translate to knowing what to grow and how to maximize your land.

The average daily calories intake for an adult is about 2400 calories both for male and female which is equal to 876,000 calories per year. So, looking at the first picture of calories per kg in beans, wheat and sweet potatoes, you will see that the calories in sweet potatoes is lower. If you then look at the second diagram, which indicates the area that is needed to grow beans, wheat and sweet potato, you will discover that the square feet needed to grow sweet potatoes is smaller than what is needed to grow beans and wheat. This is because you need a small area to grow sweet potatoes.

The reasoning underscored above is very much important in establishing a garden and in a bid to grow crops that are beneficial to the body.

The third diagram shows the square feet that is needed to produce a one-year diet of wheat and sweet potato. Overall, you will see that a very small area of land is needed to produce the sweet potato that you will eat for a whole year. Other crops that are calorie-efficient are, garlic, onions etc.

Grains on another slant produce a significant amount of calories in a large area of land. They also provide a high amount of valuable dry materials for compost which is good for the soil. Even though we need a large expanse of land to grow our beans or to grow our corn, sorghum, and millet, they cannot be substituted for other crops because of their dry matter which is useful to produce compost. They are very high in carbon when dried, these materials give us high volume of carbon needed to put into compost which eventually turn to food for the soil. This will be discussed extensively in further episodes.

For this week, think on these questions, do you know the daily calorie intake that you need? Do you know the daily calories intake that your children need? This is a very important guide in your decision on what to grow and eat. Sometimes, our breakfast and lunch are enough for the calories that we need per day. When we take (eat) too much, we might end up being obese and having issues with our health.

Lastly, one thing that is important from all that we have discussed over the past 5 weeks is that we need to understand before we start farming or gardening what we want to eat.

Next week, we will be discussing another interesting topic, a step higher in our Bio-intensive gardening journey. Don’t miss it.

Thank you!

Meet our Instructor/Author

Abosede Olawumi Benedict is an astute, well-traveled Organic Farm Manager and Trainer with over 15-years of experience in the farming industry.

Her expertise intercuts the following areas: Grow Biointensive System, Organic, Sustainable or Regenerative Farming, Healthy Living (Nutrition), Sustainable living, Natural building, Compost making, Holistic Management, Farm Management & Trainer and Organic Integrated Pest Management to mention just a few.

 

 

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