In the early 2000s, Amish farmer John Kempf was on a quest to save his family’s fruit and vegetable farm in Northeast Ohio. After years of intensive pesticide use, pest and disease pressure was unmanageable and unaffected by continued chemical applications. This resulted in an almost total loss three years in a row.
John then began renting a field from a neighboring farm, which sparked an “ah-ha” moment. Cantaloupe plants, located in soil previously managed with intense pesticides, were disease and pest-ridden. Those grown on the rented field with untreated soil were completely healthy. The difference was so pronounced that it launched John on an intense journey to understand why one plant could resist disease while the same variety planted two feet away could not.
After years of extensive agronomic research, first-hand growing experience, and close mentorship – from leaders such as Don Huber, Bruce Tainio, Jerry Brunetti, Arden and Michael McNeil – John found new crop management methods. The practices he discovered and the products he created were the beginnings of Advancing Eco Agriculture.
John believes regenerative agriculture management systems can:
- Regenerate producer profitability and create economic incentives for producers.
- Produce crops that are inherently resistant to possible infections by insects, bacteria, fungi, nematodes, and viruses, eliminating the need for pesticides.
- Produce food that can regenerate public health, with an elevated content of immune compounds that transfer plant immunity to livestock and people, providing food as medicine.
- Rapidly sequester carbon, build soil organic matter much faster than commonly expected, restore hydrological cycles, cool the climate, and reduce the water requirements of a crop.
All of these benefits and more can be achieved simply by managing soils and crops differently in a manner that enhances rather than suppresses biological function.
“I dream of a world where the process of growing food regenerates the land, revitalizes rural communities, and facilitates a world where food improves our health.”