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Wonderful info ALAN'S CHAT

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Wonderful info ALAN'S CHAT

Post  WardinWake on 3/28/2010, 5:59 am

On Friday the 26th of March, 2010 there was a LIVE CHAT with Alan Silva of the Square Foot Gardening Foundation and a number of forum members. The following is a transcript of the CHAT. If you want to read the entire CHAT it can be found in the GREETING FORUM.

Boffer started the CHAT with this intro:

Heeeeeeere's Alan!

Alan: I must say that I am always amazed at how great the influence of SFG has spread. I am happy to be here guys. To give you a quick bio my name is Alan Silva. I am the business operations manager here at the foundation I actually own several companies as well. Mel got together with me early last year and said, "the foundation is growing far faster than I had ever dreamed, people are needing help and excited.
There is only one of me and I could use some help getting this foundation really rocking"! I was running
several companies at the time (still am actually) and I thought I might be able to donate a little bit of time to the foundation. I set up a website for the foundation and a preliminary storefront, then I realized
how much more organized we needed to get in order to really grow, so I started investing more and more time. I moved the foundation from a couple of separate small buidings into a larger warehouse in downtown Ogden, UT, where it was more centrally located and had better access to shipping then I spent the next few months updating the foundations technology and organization. We hired Victoria (she is our operations manager and I could not live without her) and we really started getting things going. In fact, unfortunately, we grew so fast that we could not keep up with the growth! We hired a dozen new people within a month to handle the load and even then we were almost a month behind on all orders (by the way, we always focus on helping the community, so we also hired several independent woodworkers in the area who were out of work to start making boxes for us) within a couple of months, we finally started to get things calmed down and in more control. Funny thing is that Mel told me when he asked me to help that after July and August, the foundation would be dead until spring and I would have all the time
in the world to get everything really organized. I had built the website in a matter of a couple of weeks and the storefront in a few days. So... by the time that August came around, I still did not have
any time (by now I have put my other companies on the backburner because of how much the foundation was growing) and more things were happening. I started making contacts with several companies to start
expanding our product line and we began preliminary testing of Mel's Mix. Our first experiments did not turn out well you have to keep checking on these manufacturers or they will play with the formula in ways you don't want! We went through two different manufacturers before we found our current company. At the same time our 3 day symposiums were growing and more people wanted to host one, so Mel and I were
traveling more and more! Victoria worked very hard and organized the crew we now have and is working very hard to make sure that you guys are taken care off. If you ever talk to her, please thank her for her hard work, I couldn't do half of what I do without her! By the end of the year, I started to have a little more time and really wanted to get the foundations' online presence really strong, so I started working on a better website and storefront (which we debuted in march) and of course this wonderful forum! That is just a very quick rundown of the past year at the foundation. We have a lot plans for this year as well.

Can you tell us more about how the foundation gives back to the community, both here and abroad?

Alan: Yes, we currently sponsor several projects throughout the world. Our latest project includes work
with a few local organizations that are doing missionary service in several countries in South America. We support them financially and educationally. We have translated several of our materials into Spanish
and have given classes to teach self sufficiency in several countries. In fact, Mel has been asked to be the keynote speaker on the first annual 'world hunger symposium to be held in Hawaii in May. And we are
going to have a 3 day symposium there. This conference will focus on helping the pacific islanders become more self sufficient as well. We have seen the devastation in Haiti. As you can see, when the government
breaks down, lack of food becomes critical very quickly. We want to teach everyone how to more effectively grow their own food so when disaster strikes (not IF, but WHEN) people have a resource to turn to! We have been invited by royalty of several Central American countries to go and teach the people these methods. Unfortunately, there are not enough of us to go everywhere we are called and that is one of the reasons that one of my priorities has been to update our teacher certification program. Our goal is to teach enough teachers and get them ready to teach the world. I envision having very good teachers that I turn to and say "Hey, we have been invited to South Africa to teach, but we don't have any time to do it, will you go and teach?" We will pay their fare and send them all over the world to teach! So if any of you are really interested, we are slowing building up a system in which we will start sending our best teachers all over the world (all expenses paid)! As I said, a lot of stuff is happening!

Mckr3441: I have your 3 and 10 min teaching videos. Are there any new DVDs/Videos for teaching.

Martha: I very much appreciated reading your post about teaming up with the Amish. To me it underscored that the Foundation looks for ways large and small to leave a positive imprint on
the world. (Not a question)

Ayanefan: Do you ask people to actively go around their community to show SFG (and earn teaching
credits or so?)

Alan: Yes, In the new kit I have just finished, Ihave added two more videos to the teacher kit including one of Mel teaching and other teachers as well. I have also expanded our instructional CD. We like to work with people who need help. We feel that everyone can contribute. We actually have teachers that make a
decent living making sfg a business. I have a local teacher that I work with that made $25,000 in her FIRST YEAR using sfg as a business. She expects to do a lot more this year. In fact we are creating a position of teacher advocate (or something to that effect) someone whose job will be to leverage the power of teachers and really do a lot. Someone whose only job will be to help organize teachers and help them have success. The gardening by region section is one way I am working to help them grow! There is a lot happening! Regional development is crucial, here it's winter 7 months out of the year so extending the season is important. Yes, on that end, I am also working on products that can help extend the growing season(greenhouses, etc).

Boffer: When will the new dvds be available to Certified teachers?

Alan: We have a local sfg gardener who came to me in one of the lectures and told me that he dug an 8 foot hole in his backyard and planted his boxes there. Since the temperature of the earth is always the same he has a built in greenhouse! Get this, he actually is growing Lemons, in Utah, in December! How wild is that! Our new DVDs are almost ready. Our new teacher advocate will start working with all our teachers and getting them all updated.

Ayanefan: I really want to get the course, should I wait for the new kit?

Alan: Go ahead and order it, we have stopped shipping the old class information and are sending every
new order the new information.

Boffer: I hope we can work on getting more teachers participating in the forum?

Alan: I am actually finished with the course, it's just distribution that we are working on for our current teachers trying to make sure everyone's info is updated so we don't send new courses to bad addresses!

I appreciate your talking to us, Google turns up next to nothing about the Foundation.

Alan continued: Yeah, I noticed that. I just recently started to add our products to the Google product results and we need bloggers and people to write up articles and spread the word! Just for your info, this month, we have received over 100,000 visits with over 600,000 page views! And that without me having time to organize a real campaign of getting the word out. We have barely started to tap into the power of this system or how much people can really benefit from it. We are also starting to explore other options
for Mel's mix, box designs and other technologies. I have designed a system that uses SFG boxes and greenhouses to actually create electrical power to power your home! So your SFG can not only give you food, but power you home as well! These are the types of things that I want to develop but right now, I am dying with current workload! I am experimenting with hydroponics, airoponics and aquaponics as well I am a technology guru and have big plans! There is simply too much to do and not enough time. We have created a new box that uses 100% recycled waste product from what Wal-Mart throws away. So instead of going to the landfill, it now it becomes sfg 'green' boxes. The "green" boxes will be coming out in the next few months. Hydro-aquaponic technologies deal with growing food without any soil at all, just water.
Airoponics works with growing food without soil or water! Just moisturized air! Imagine that! You would not believe the kind of experiments I am working on!

Ayanefan: The teacher with the entrenched greenhouse, did he say anything about if he needed special lights or other items?

Alan: No, as far as I remember, he just put a plastic tart over the hole and that was it. I did not get all the specifics, but just to give you a small idea of the possibilities!

Kimbies: WOW - how to harvest at the bottom of a hole?

Alan: He did have stairs built into the ground.

Kimbies: Does NASA have an interest? I can see SFG in space stations.

Boffer: I wonder if clean air will be as hard to find as vermiculite for aeroponics?!

Alan: Actually, funny you should mention that. One my experiments deals with using our gardens to
help purify water as well!

Mckr3441: Does the Foundation have any advice about vermiculite sources.

Alan: For vermiculite. Look around. One of the things I am working on is other types of soil mixes that replace vermiculite with other substances, but it's been hard to find something that useful. This formula works really well!

Boffer: I have a database created-it's in development.

Alan: Yes, thanks to Boffer on that one. He is on the ball there!

Boffer: Its been needed for a long time.

Boffer: Alan's a scientist, too!

Alan: Yep. The bad news is that there is a ton of work to do. The good news is that we are finally starting to get organized enough to make massive improvements. I love to study! I've actually studied chemistry, physics, psychology, archeology and I am currently learning Hebrew. Not to brag, but to remind everyone that we all the same capabilities, it's just get our butts off the TV and do something.

Mckr3441: Biosphere II in AZ actually did recycle water through plants for scientists for one year

Alan: I haven't watched TV for almost 2 years.

Boffer: I think they're using that in Antarctica too.

Alan: I found that as soon as I got off the tube, I suddenly had tremendous amount of time to do other stuff!

Kimbies: Any experience required for the teacher course? I'm a rookie but intrigued.

* In response to a question on Attention Defect Disorder and ADHD Alan gave the following.

Alan: My kids have strong ADHD and I found (after trying all the drugs) that changing their eating habits made even more sense. My kids ADHD symptoms have decreased tremendously since we stopped the processed food stuff and started eating more veggies (from our SFG) their asthma has disappeared also. So it looks like growing our gardens has far reaching effects!

Alan: If you want to become certified to teach, you just order the kit and start working on it. SFG
is not a complicated system (the beauty of it) so you can a lot quickly! By the way, teachers, please check that your information is correct on our gardening by region section. If you have a video to promote
yourselves, send it to me and I will add it to help you!

Ayanefan: I live in Dairy and Dutch farmer country, SFG is a hard sell. But persistence will pay off.

Daynannan: The YMCA has drop off babysitting for members so it would be a great thing to do for moms who don't have time to do it at home.

Aanefan : Are you considering creating new videos with Mel explaining SFG? That's what got me hooked
in the first place.

Boffer: Some big farmers on the forum are using sfg for their personal gardens.

Alan: Actually, since SFG's grow a lot more per square foot then traditional gardens, I have seen lifelong single rower's change their ways pretty quickly especially when you no longer have to deal with weeds!

Alan: We are actually helping a lot of community gardens and are working to get them in jails and prisons to help the inmates get some useful skills and reduce the food budget for our strained criminal justice system. Creating more videos is also on the to-do list (with all the time i've got! LOL).

Mckr3441: You need more "helpers".

Boffer: Developing charitable sfg options is a subject that comes up in the forum occasionally with little
feedback. I think that is an area that needs development somehow.

Alan: I am getting more help, but the need is far greater than the amount of help. Yes, charitable work is a big deal to us and I would love to develop that as well! (again, time thing....). This is why I am
grateful to folks like you who are taking upon yourselves to contribute: Example. Boffer has helped tremendously by donating his time to get this forum really rocking. See the effect! we have almost a thousand members and have not been up even a month yet!

A break in protocol was made to say HI to the founder of the SFG Forum, Theresa.

Kimbies: How about posting a volunteer sign-up...? on the foundation site?

Alan: I have found our 3 day symposiums to be a fantastic place to network and I have seen tremendous ideas come from those. In other words, get together as groups! if you have a large enough group, I will
get people interested, set up classes! I will go there myself or send Mel.

Kimbies: I'm just down the road from Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden... I'll send out some feelers

Alan: One of the keys to keep people excited. Networking activities, community activities. Etc. You find excitement when you have people forget about themselves and serve others! Give people a cause and they will rise!

Mckr3441 : As this forum shows...

Alan: I tell you guys something I don't make nearly as much money helping Mel as I do in my other companies, but I love coming here because here i have something that I don't see in the business
world. Purpose! Something that really makes a difference! That is what SFG brings. It is about becoming self sufficient. Helping others. spending time away from the hectic world! Mel talks about going out
into your garden and feeding your plants by hand with a cup of sun warmed water. I think the time I go to my back yard and spend with my flowers and veggies is valuable to me as well. It is a time to get a
way from the world. To focus on beauty. To see nature in all her wonder I find relaxation and peace in my garden that I have in very few other places image this.. the number one cause of death for men in America is heart attack the number one cause of heart attack is stress, specially prolonged stress. If we can reduce the unrelenting stress that we face each day, eat healthier and spend more time with nature (and our family) how many less heart attacks would we have how many stress causing problems (a whole lot are caused or grow from stress) without all the processed garbage we see in our foods now a days, how much obesity would we see or obesity related medical problems? Over 60% of this country
is obese (last time I checked). Imagine how much money we would have from trips to the doctor if we just ate healthier I have not had to go to the doctor in 3 years!. I have not had allergies (like I've had every
year before I started eating my own food). Sorry. I got on my soap box there. I hope you guys can see the vast reaching potential that this has. Any last questions?

Alan: Thank you everyone. I appreciate your thoughts today! what a great experience! Let's chat again soon.


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Alan's Chat

Post  Ray'ssfg on 3/28/2010, 6:31 am

Hey Ward thanks a heap for posting the chat info. Really wanted to be a part but the time difference didn't fit this time.
Alan has given a great insight into what is happening with the foundation which is quite inspirational.
I look forward to hearing more of the new projects and how I might be able to contribute here Down Under.
Really appreciate your efforts.


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Re: Wonderful info ALAN'S CHAT

Post  lakemom on 3/28/2010, 7:04 pm

Thanks for the reformatting!! I read through it the other evening, and thought it would be much easier to read if it was reformatted....and viola...here it is done for me. Thank you.


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Re: Wonderful info ALAN'S CHAT

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