“Update on the Benson Institute,” Ensign, July 1981, 78
Now in its sixth year of service at Brigham Young University, the Ezra Taft Benson Agriculture and Food Institute has reached across academic and international boundaries to bring agricultural research to the people who need it, according to D. Delos Ellsworth, director of the institute.
For example, the institute has spent much of its time on small-scale agriculture because in many countries, farming just a small plot can make the difference between surviving and starving for a family. One recent project that finished a successful first year shows how a family of six could survive on a one-and-one-half-acre farm, producing enough food to feed themselves and provide a small cash income.
This small-scale agricultural research has been carried out in several countries, including Egypt, where BYU faculty members through the Benson Institute were invited to participate in projects in various villages.
The institute has also promoted extensive research on small-scale gardening to demonstrate how families can help provide some of their own food from small plots. Many thousands of copies of the institute’s pamphlet “Getting Along with Your Garden” have been sold in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.
Other activities include running some of the quality-control tests on products from the Church’s welfare system food-production operations, responding to requests for information about storing food, providing limited scholarships for students from various countries throughout the world, and serving as a resource to LDS members worldwide.
The director noted, “We now have more projects and more demands on us than we have money to carry out.” The institute must raise between $1 million and $1.5 million each year to carry out its work.