Science: The New Alchemists

The name on the mailbox—New Alchemy Institute—suggests that the small Cape Cod farm is dedicated to the ancient quest for a way of transforming base metals into gold. In fact, the farmers are pursuing an equally elusive but more modern goal: alternative methods of feeding the earth's billions without excess use of fertilizers and pesticides, waste of coal and oil, or reliance on the new hybrid grain crops, which despite their high yield are often vulnerable to disease.

That is the heady dream of the institute's young founders, Marine Biologists John H. Todd, 35,...

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