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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.

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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  1. Ron

    August 9, 2016 at 5:57 pm

    Gro kashi probiotics and sip container gardening is the way to go. No pollution, less consumption, and in the end an unbeatable product. Best way to farm anything from cannabis to fruits and vegetables. It’s a whole ecosystem in a box.

  2. Brodie Linderman

    August 9, 2016 at 7:18 pm

    I need some of this in my life. Would love to get off “the bottle”!

  3. Rich

    August 10, 2016 at 12:58 am

    This would be cool to try a different way to grow. To become open minded on different ways

  4. Romell hazard

    August 31, 2016 at 12:58 pm

    I won this off your Facebook giveaway,I left you guys and girls all my info on your pm, but you never answered me ,so I’d tell you hear,left my name ,address ,and phone number and email, thank you again sincerely romell hazard!!!

  5. Richard Bruneau

    August 31, 2016 at 5:16 pm

    To find this stuff in my town is next to impossible. I would have to travel 2 hours to find this stuff, and to just do it online without the knowledge of the product would be crazy. Thanks for a chance to get a kit 🙂

  6. Benjamen Martin

    August 31, 2016 at 5:27 pm

    Always looking for new ways to grow.

  7. Mickey Call

    August 31, 2016 at 6:09 pm

    Cant go wrong Probiotic Biodynamic what an amazing Pairing of amazing products!!
    #earthbox #healthygrowsmatter

  8. Suzanne wall

    September 1, 2016 at 11:06 am


  9. Na

    September 1, 2016 at 11:59 am

    I need this!

  10. Timothy Bowers

    September 2, 2016 at 10:44 pm

    Looks like an awesome product!

  11. Brandon Ring

    September 4, 2016 at 1:52 pm

    Great read ! Thanks Alan for everything you do ! I was a Gro-Kashi betta tester 2011-12? And have not looked back since, been growing food since I cannot grow my own medicine but I gave my moms older friends (who had gardens their whole lives )some tomatoes grown with Probiotics (Gro-Kashi and Em-1) and they said best they ever had! Such a good feeling knowing your helping our earth , giving food away and they love it ! I need about 10 Probiotic Wellness Gardens for next spring .

  12. Brody

    September 4, 2016 at 4:34 pm

    I would love to fire this up in my winter grow!!

  13. Justin

    September 4, 2016 at 4:55 pm

    Good stuff

  14. irrazin IG

    September 4, 2016 at 5:16 pm

    This is everything in one box, delivering the probiotic punch.

  15. Catherine

    September 4, 2016 at 5:48 pm

    Would love to win!

  16. Sean wilcox

    September 4, 2016 at 5:49 pm

    It would be awesome to try new methods to my growing

  17. Teresa Egbert

    September 4, 2016 at 6:25 pm

    “With farming science from our ancestors, we can create rainforests rather than the continual desertification of our earth’s crust.” Probiotic farming is going to help save the world! I can’t wait until I get my grow set up so I can help educate people and spread the love 🙂

  18. Daniel Boles

    September 5, 2016 at 2:19 am

    Great read. One of the most inspirational and level headed gardeners I’ve ever been lucky enough to follow on facebook; Alan you’re awesome. Thanks for the opportunity.

  19. David

    September 5, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    Great stuff guys! I’ve entered before let’s try again!!

  20. Eli

    September 5, 2016 at 5:19 pm


  21. Matthew Snee

    September 5, 2016 at 9:47 pm

    love this growing style, wont ever switch back. Gro-kashi is amazing stuf!

  22. Matthew Snee

    September 5, 2016 at 9:48 pm

    Love Gro-kashi and the PFA!!

  23. Maxwell Fynn

    September 8, 2016 at 6:59 pm

    I would love to get away from synthetic bottle nutrients.

  24. robert lewis

    September 8, 2016 at 9:42 pm

    wicked cool

  25. Tyler Zachocki

    September 19, 2016 at 11:42 pm

    Hope I win here’s an entry to win the giveaway. Wanted to try earthbox for a while now.

  26. Susan Hetrick

    September 19, 2016 at 11:52 pm

    After moving back to my home town of Sonoma, California, I was gone 40 years, I seek to grow for myself… and possibly others. Your method feels right and healthy. I hope to learn more before putting my seeds into soil. Thank you!

  27. Jeremiah

    September 20, 2016 at 6:03 am

    I normally make my own stuff. But I love skunk magazine so I’ll try it.

  28. Geronimo

    September 20, 2016 at 8:15 am

    Awesome way to grow would like to try this one day

  29. Rich milhoan

    September 20, 2016 at 2:15 pm

    This would be a game changer

  30. Ashley

    September 20, 2016 at 10:53 pm

    Im new to growing and this is some good information

  31. Na

    September 21, 2016 at 11:18 am

    Very interesting!

  32. Jesse

    September 30, 2016 at 2:03 pm

    This is a dream box

  33. Robert

    September 30, 2016 at 3:53 pm

    Very good stuff!! Amazing people doing amazing things all the way around .. Blessings to all

  34. Kim Cooper

    September 30, 2016 at 4:31 pm

    Awesome Article!

  35. Joshua Mock

    September 30, 2016 at 5:20 pm

    Now this is Organics at it’s best! Not only is this a good way for current gardeners to grow, this would be a nice kit to introduce/educate younger generations and children with. Show them what impact just one family can make. It’s a shame that most children stay inside all day playing video games instead of being outdoors in nature. I have seen so many kids scared to death of small bugs, caterpillars, and large moths instead of being intrigued by them. I think it would make a good side by side science class experiment for melons, where children could taste the difference between a chemical grown/mass produced VS an organic produced specimen.

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