In the Spotlight

Will Bonsall


After graduating from the University of Maine in 1971, Waterville native, Will Bonsall moved to a piece of run-out farmland in the hills of Industry Maine, where he began growing much of his own food. He soon expanded into producing his own fertilizer and crop seed. After discovering the wealth of traditional, or “heirloom” varieties found in his community and around the region, he started the Scatterseed Project to collect, propagate, maintain, and distribute seeds of various crop plants, particularly those which are endangered, or which are hard to obtain through usual commercial sources and those crops which are especially suitable for self-reliant lifestyles.

Will is also the author of two books: a futuristic eco-novel, Through the Eyes of a Stranger, and a wide-ranging visionary book on sustainable gardening and farming, recently released by Chelsea Green Publishers, called “Will Bonsall’s Essential Guide to Radical Self-Reliant Gardening.

1. How Long have you been eating plant-based? Around 1970 I was eating vegetarian. I moved away from that for a little bit and then in 1975 I began to eat strictly vegan.
2. What made you decide to go plant-based? I didn’t do it for the planet or my health although those are great reasons to eat this way. For me I wanted to be self- sufficient and self-sustainable for growing my own food. We had one billy goat with thoughts of having a goat herd. I wanted to be able to grow the food for the goat also but I quickly realized that I could not grow food for both the goat and my family. It was not efficient use of my time, my land or my energy so I decided to just grow food for ourselves and get rid of the goat.
3. What are your go to foods for breakfast, lunch and dinner? I typically eat a late breakfast at 9:00 or later. We make pancakes, waffles or oatmeal. A porridge I make is out of cornmeal, malt meal, terra, and amaranth with peanut butter and sunflower meal added to it. I usually have the biggest meal of the day somewhere between 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. depending on the day and what I am doing. Then I usually have a grain or potato with a vegetable stir-fry with vegetables from my garden. Different type of beans are another food we eat a lot.
4. What did you find to be the biggest challenge to becoming plant-based? I found I missed sausage but then I realized what I missed was the grease and the salt so I just used tempeh and added some salt and grease to it and got the same satisfaction as eating the sausage.
5. What are the benefits that going plant-based have done for you? My nasal problems went away after changing my diet. My eyesight got better for a while and I didn’t need to wear glasses. As I have gotten older I now use reading glasses.
6. Do you have a favorite recipe, cookbook or recipe to share?

This recipe is for Choclo Perunao. There are not measurements, just use the amounts you like.
Green peppers
Fresh garlic
Dry or fresh ginger to taste
Ripe Olives
Sweet corn
Tomato sauce
Salt and Pepper

Cook until vegetables are tender. Serve over rice.

Another recipe is Madras Curry again with no measurements.
Green peppers
Fresh garlic
Can of chunked pineapple
Curry powder to taste
chunky tomatoes
whole cashews

Serve over rice with lentils on the side.