Ida & Jean Pain

Jean Pain - A french innovator who developed a compost based bio energy system that he developed over many years together with his wife Ida, & eventually produced 100% of their home energy needs.      

Also see BioGas page

Jean Pain - The Power of Compost

Part 1

Part 2


Another Kind of Garden, by Ida and Jean Pain
First published in 1973, fifth edition by 1979, 
this little book documents the work and methods of M. Pain with brushwood compost.

A Little-Known Visionary

from an article by Peter Bane

Pain was a citizen scientist in Occitania, that fabled and historic region in the south of France, whose political fate has long been submerged within the French state, but whose spirit is still restive. Contemporary with Bill Mollison. Pain was concerned with the devastation of the Mediterranean forest by fire, a terminal process of dehumification of soils that began thousands of years ago with the introduction of grazing animals and cereal cropping. He experimented with the production of compost from brushwood thinnings of the garrigue, France’s sclerophyllic (dry loving) southern forest. By progressive applications of this compost and careful mulching to retain moisture, Pain demonstrated and recorded in great detail that high quality vegetables could be grown without irrigation in these dry soils. He further speculated that the forest itself could he regenerated by selective use of the same material.

What sets Jean Pain apart from Sir Albert Howard or other advocates of compost for gardening are two important elements, First. Pain placed the source of humic material in the forest and not in agriculture. In this way Pain pointed to a way of making productive the vast scrubland and dry forest regions of the sub-temperate and sub-tropic regions, areas of the planet blessed by abundant sunshine and long occupied by humans, but whose soils were exhausted before the modern age. Second, motivated by a profoundly post-modern understanding of global resource limits, he concerned himself with the production of industrially useful energy from this basic earth resource. In this way he offers a bridge between traditional livelihoods based in shifting cultiva­tion or nomadic herding, and a more modern, prosperous, and settled way of life. He also shows westerners a way out of the dilemma of dependence on fossil fuels.

Why then have we not a better knowledge of this important man and his work? The answers are several and should surprise us little. Jean Pain worked independently in a rural region. He was affiliated with no university or government. Though French is a world language, it is no longer the leading tongue of science and has been eclipsed by English as the lingua franca of cultural innovation. Pain’s small, didactic volume was self-published, and its translation into English was awkward, the text difficult to read. Though Pain networked with other researchers in francophone Europe and in California, the extent of his outreach appears to have been limited. He was essentially an agronomic scientist and inventor, without the personality which might have enabled him to publicize and propagate his ideas. And, more broadly, his creative work, like so much innovation in energy technology, was marginalized by the worldwide conservative reaction of the l980's which sought to deny the implica­tions of the oil shocks of the previous decade.

The system heated water to 60 degrees celsius at a rate of 4 litres a minute which they used for washing and heating. 

They also distilled enough methane to run an electricity generator, cooking elements, and power his truck. 

This method of creating usable energy from composting materials has come to be known as Jean Pain Composting, or the Jean Pain Method.

See Jean Pain page in Wikipedia for more links

“This research, then, 
which was begun in 1964 
in the Central Var district 
and which was aimed primarily 
at enabling a family of 
extremely modest means 
first to get by 
and then live normally 
in the forest, 
has today led to 
the production of energy 
in the form of electricity 
obtained by means of 
simple techniques, 

this not being 
our purpose 
at the outset.”

Jean Pain