Melvin K. Hendrix


Melvin Hendrix is a development assistance consultant and master gardener who has researched and designed practical solutions for complex horticultural, fisheries, water management, and food production projects in Africa, Asia, the Near East, and the Caribbean for such international donor organizations as the United Nations (FAO, UNESCO) and the German Technical Cooperation Agency (GTZ).

He is the architect of the collaborative agronomic partnerships (CAP) concept, the purpose of which is to create value-chain organizational structures through which farmers can innovate small-scale industrial enterprises that promote food security and sustainable livelihoods where they live. This subject is the focus of his next book, Microfarming by the Numbers: Sustainability Management for Value Chain Social Enterprises.

Professionally, he has had an eclectic career: an academic; a CEO of a development assistance company; co-founder of a web development company; and an editor of an academic journal among other things. Currently, he spends his time writing and pursuing real work as an avid polyculture gardener and permaculture practitioner. His primary focus in this regard is an interest in strengthening and expanding regional foodsheds to promote food security, while eating lots of nutritious, delicious foods along the way.

Smashwords Interview

You just published a new book. What's the backstory about it?
Growing up within the cultural boundaries of two families involved in agriculture, a great-aunt who was a agriculture extension agent in Arkansas, I learned later that I had a natural affinity with the soil. So, somehow by osmosis I was smitten with growing food. My early gardening experience was working alongside my grandmother, who was a master gardener. In my eyes, she always had a great garden.

When I finally started working professionally, my first real estate purchase was a farm, and I wanted to be a good steward and manage it well. That's when my formal learning began. I'm a graduate of the school of Mother Earth Magazine. And, while my first farm did not work out, I started to follow the work of Booker T. Whately and Masanobu Fukuoka through Mother Earth and because I was not farming full-time, I could approach gardening as a hobby. What jump-started my intellectual absorption of the inherent issues associated with food production was working in international development with farmers and fishermen to solve problems where access to resources was limited and what was possible had to be determine cooperatively. That's when the lessons that I had learned from my mother as a child began to echo back: namely, don't give up, where there are limitations, the other side of the coin is opportunity. I learned so much from the people I was working with than I was able to share with them at the time, except for an innate ability to organize discourse and turn it into practical plans.

Out of these early experiences, together with the writings about Fukuoka and Whately in Mother Earth detailing their work, I was able to envision a different type of farming. Surprisingly, John Jeavons of GROW BIOINTENSIVE and I crossed paths in Palo Alto, CA, but I was not yet ready to move in the direction that he has taken over the past 40 years. He and his organization are making a tremendous contribution to providing solutions for global food production on small amounts of land. His book, How to Grow More Vegetables, should have been among my 5 favorite books I list below. If you are interested in food, eating, and the future of food production, it should be in your library as well.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I most certainly do. It was called "A measure of manhood," a short story about the fixation that young males have with size and the consequences that can occur. I'm reconstructing the story for future publication, as the earlier version disappeared among my numerous moves.
Read more of this interview.

Where to find Melvin K. Hendrix online

Where to buy in print


Sustainable Backyard Polyculture: Designing for ecological resiliency
Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 84,830. Language: English. Published: August 5, 2014. Categories: Nonfiction » Home & Garden » Gardening
Creating a healthy, ecologically resilient garden and its surrounding landscape is a commitment that takes many years to achieve. Sustainable Backyard Polyculture: Designing for ecological resiliency provides step-by-step guides, detailed drawings, photographs, best practices, and a glossary of terms and arithmetic calculations, to aid in this process from beginning to end.

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