The Nutrient Dense Project:
Science by the People, For the People

Updated October 11, 2018

The NDP site has not been actively maintained since 2012, when the group ran out of free volunteer labor and money to pay for lab testing. Some of the members shown below are no longer part of the project, but all have remained active in soil science and growing nutrient dense food.

We hve left the page as it was since 2012 for historical interest.

Our new website is

The donation button on this page still works, and all donations go toward funding the ongoing research at the Soil Mineral Underground's Nutrient Dense Project

The Nutrient Dense Project:
Members and Researchers

Steve Solomon, Tasmania
Steve Solomon is the author of the best-selling Gardening When it Counts, Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades, and five other books on growing food.

Steve Solomon's Garden
In 2011 Steve will be trialing12 varieties of Broccoli, both OP and Hybrid types, to see which are the most nutrient-dense and flavorful.

Steve Solomon's website is

Jim Porterfield, Illinois
Certified Crop Adviser, Watershed/Water Quality Specialist and Former Director of Research, American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture
One of Jim's systems research projects for growing high brix livestock feed in Illinois
Samples of Jim's work can be found at

Bill and Grace Spitz, Wisconsin
Bill with this year's tomatoes.

Grace with this year's corn.
Bill and Grace Spitz' website:

Liz Brown, Louisiana

Liz is trialing 3 varieties of sweet potatoes (ipomea) in mineralized vs unamended soil.
Dennis Carlson, Oregon
Master Gardener and Soil Consultant, with his Anacona ducks.

Potatoes; one of Dennis' trial plots at the Oregon State University Mid-Columbia Research and Extension Center. More photos of Dennis' work here: Dennis Carlson Garden

Alec Baxt, Brooklyn NY
Alec is a major player in promoting rooftop gardening and farming in New York City. He tells us there are 38,000 acres of flat roofs in NYC that could be put to use growing food.
His website: FarmingUp
One of Alec's Nutrient Dense Project trial gardens in Brooklyn. Next year this rooftop will likely be all garden.

The Nutrient Dense Project

Science by the People for the People

~ Is it true that our food is nutrient deficient because our soils are mineral depleted? If this is so, what can be done about it?

~ Many are saying that modern hybrid crops have less nutrition than the traditional open pollinated varieties. Is this true or not?

~ If grown on the same soil, which varieties of the common fruit and vegetable crops contain the highest levels of nutrients?

~ Is it true that high-Brix crops are more nutrient-dense than crops with a lower Brix reading?

We would like to find the answers to those questions. Who are we? We are a small, volunteer group of farmers, gardeners, orchardists, ranchers, agronomists, writers and researchers from the USA and around the world who banded together in early 2010 with the goal of finding the answers to the questions above. We all love growing, we all love science, we all love good food and healthy soils, crops, people, and animals. We especially love real answers to questions like these.

We are growing food using Organic, Biodynamic, Permaculture, Biological, and “conventional” methods in all sorts of combinations with one overarching goal: To learn how to grow the healthiest, best tasting and most nutritious food that has ever been grown, and to do it in harmony with Nature and the Earth.

In 2010 we did a lot of talking about the questions and how to find the answers. We had laboratory tests done for soil minerals and then amended the soils we were growing crops in. We grew vegetable gardens, pastures, and fruits and sent a few samples of the forage and crops to the lab for nutrient testing and got back some remarkable and encouraging results. . For example, Detroit Dark Red beets grown in mineral-amended soil measured, in comparison to USDA averages, an increase of

Protein: +193%
Calcium: +931%
Phosphorus: +77%
Magnesium: +122%
Zinc: +151%
Copper: +140%

These are results from a reputable independent laboratory, and there are several other equally impressive outcomes from last year.

In 2011 we are rolling, with over a dozen experimental farms and gardens planted and active members "doing science" in the states of Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, Texas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Arkansas, Illinois, West Virginia, Georgia, New York, New Jersey, and Wisconsin, as well as in Tasmania, Venezuela, and Zambia.

Here is what the project volunteers are doing:

a. Having their soil tested.

b. Amending the soil according the best knowledge bases we presently have.

c. Growing crops in both mineral-amended and non-amended soil, with all other
fertilizers and treatments being the same.

d. Keeping records and testing Brix levels for comparison.

e. Sending crop samples to the lab to be tested for 11 mineral nutrients, using a procedure that gives results directly comparable to the USDA nutrient charts, and can also be directly correlated to the soil reports that measured the same mineral nutrients.

f. Sharing these results with the other members of the group.

Because it is all volunteer and paid for out of pocket, the data we have to work with so far is limited, but what is important is that we are doing the work, and as far as we can tell, we are the only ones on the planet doing this simple, much needed testing

This is exciting, inspiring, and original science and that makes it fun. However, we are running up against our personal limits. The volunteer growers don't have the money to pay out of pocket for the hundreds of tests that need to be done in order to come up with solid, useful, scientifically valid findings. We could use some help.

We don't need millions of dollars. $100,000 would pay for a thousand soil tests and a thousand crop analyses, and still leave a little left over for other expenses. We would prefer to get that funding from ordinary people like us who see the importance of the work rather than applying for government or foundation money. We would like this to remain a project by the people, for the people.

If this project interests you, and you would like to see it succeed and share in the knowledge yourself, please consider making a donation. $25 will pay for a soil analysis; $55 will pay for a crop nutrient analysis. All donations will go toward making this project a success, and we will share our findings and our data with all who make a donation, no matter how large or small.

If you would like to help fund the High Brix Project and be on our email list to receive regular updates as well as share in the knowledge we gather, please click on the donation button below.

Those who donate $100 or more will be sent an e-book version of The Ideal Soil Handbook by Michael Astera via email ($29.95 retail).

All who donate will have access to our data as well as our findings on:

1. The best soil mineral balance, organic matter level, and fertilizers for growing the most nutritious crops.

2. Which varieties of which crops have the highest nutrient levels.

3. What relationship there is between soil minerals and fertility, crop mineral and nutrient content, and Brix readings.

And anything else of value that we discover with your help.

Any donation of any size is greatly appreciated.

Nutrient Dense Project

Fruit and Vegetable Nutrient Comparisons

Below is a chart comparing the minerals in the beets mentioned above to the USDA average for beets in their latest collection of data. This is just a teaser; we have lots more good data like this that will be posted to this site soon, and more coming all the time. Along with comparison tables like the one below we will also be posting the original soil tests and how the soils were amended to achieve these results.

Crop tested: Beets
(Beet "Detroit Dark Red, Morse's Strain" Ferry Morse Seed Co)

Location: Minnesota USA
Testing Laboratory:
Test: Nitric Acid Digest, ICP/MS
Test Date: December 21, 2010
Brix of Crop: 11 (12 is excellent)

Nutrient (or other) USDA Avg This Sample Difference Difference
A B B A= %
Protein grams (N x 6.25) 1.61g 4.70g +3.1g +193
Water (moisture %) 87.58% 83.70% -3.88% -4.4
mg/100g mg/100g mg/100g
Calcium Ca 16 165 +149 +931
Iron Fe 0.80 0.75 -0.05 -6
>Magnesium Mg 23 51 +28 +122
Phosphorus P 40 71 +31 +77
Potassium K 325 663 +338 +104
Sodium Na 78 n/a
Zinc Zn 0.35 0.88 +0.53 +151
Copper Cu 0.075 0.18 +0.10 +140
Manganese Mn 0.329 0.43 +0.10 +31
Boron n/a 0.14

It's harvest time in the northern half of planet Earth, and crops are ripening in our research gardens. In the Southern Hemisphere, soils have been amended and early spring crops are being planted. If you can, please make a donation so we can get these crops tested and share what we learn with you.

Thanks in advance-

Michael Astera

NEW! September 15, 2011. We have uploaded some of our growers' results, comparing them to USDA average nutrient levels:

Beets, Hawaii

Beets, Minnesota

Brussels Sprouts, Maine

Okra, Maryland

Lots more results coming soon.

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