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Mel Bartholomew

Originator and inventor of the Square Foot Gardening method

After retiring in 1975, Mel joined his local community garden as a hobby. He quickly realized how wasteful, time-consuming and laborious row gardening was. When asking fellow gardeners why they planted in wasteful rows, he heard over and over again “because that’s the way we’ve always done it.”

As a civil engineer and efficiency expert, Mel knew there had to be a better way. He realized row gardening was just a hand-me-down technique of farming, which didn’t translate well to the average gardener.

In 1976 Mel invented Square Foot Gardening as a simple alternative to labor intensive and inefficient row gardening. By focusing on planting, spacing, weed control and soil, Mel pioneered this new method of gardening into “Square Foot Gardening.” Initially dismissed by gardening experts for its simplicity, this new method was embraced by gardeners of every level, especially beginners.

His first book, “Square Foot Gardening,” was published in 1981 and became the largest selling gardening book of all time. That success led to the popular PBS and Discovery Channel television series in which Square Foot Gardening became a household name.

In the ensuing years, Mel continued to write and publish books based on his revolutionary method. He instituted a “Square Yard in the School Yard” program (taught to students throughout Utah and California), and developed the Certified Instructor program so others may teach his methodology at home and abroad.

In 1996, Mel founded the Square Foot Gardening Foundation to pursue his mission of solving world hunger by teaching people how to grow nutritious produce with limited resources. Today, the Foundation continues to fulfill his legacy with humanitarian projects around the world.

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