The world of organic farming is a complicated one in large part because many of the traditional ways have been lost.
While traditional soil-focused natural farming has been the way the world has fed itself for generations, the post-World War II era of pesticides and GMOs has led to an era of farming where many are afraid to take risks.
That gap has been filled by companies like Monsanto and Bayer, who have taken things way too far by polluting the soil, killing bees and butterflies en masse, and even changing the very genetic structure of our food with new genetically engineered crops that are the definition of foreign to the human body.
But from the ashes of this highly destructive, barbaric method of farming has risen a new generation of organic farming pioneers — and if the early results are any indication, Canadian farmer Travis Heide may end up being the most successful and influential of the bunch.
Canadian Man Doubles the Size of Biggest Organic Farm on Record
In his younger days Travis Heide began honing his craft in South Sudan, working the land and helping to support one of the most famine-stricken areas on the planet.
Heide returned to his home province of Saskatchewan squarely focused on his biggest venture to date — the conversion of some 40,000 acres of land to an entirely organic system capable of growing an impressive list of organic crops including barley oats, lentils, peas, wheat and hemp, as part of what could be the biggest farm in North America.
He originally saw an opportunity in organic for money reasons, as organic can yield higher crop values when done correctly due to saving money on input costs. His wife Amy encouraged him to make sure he was doing it from the right place, and Travis summoned the strength he needed to create his monumental new project.
“I remember saying, ‘you can’t do it just because of money. You have to believe in it in order for it to work,’” Amy said according to the article.
The couple had been debating about whether to go to the “conventional” route with synthetic pesticides and inorganic fertilizer, but ended up proving the doubters wrong by going organic. The 40,000-acre farm is a new record.
“I have never heard of anything like that,” said Laura Telford, an organic development specialist with Manitoba Agriculture according to the Producer article.
“That’s kind of out of the ballpark. The biggest one I’ve heard of before is maybe 20,000 (acres).”
When it’s all said and done, Heide is expected to have the largest organic farm in Canada and perhaps all of North America. His farm is almost as big as all of the organic crop acreage in the province of Manitoba, which has about 50,000 acres.
“We’re half and half this year…We’ll be 75 percent organic in 2019, and if we don’t add anything else, in 2020 we’ll be 100 percent organic,” said Heide, who didn’t even start farming full-time until 2014.
His story shows that with the right mindset and the right commitment to serving others, anything can be done. It’s a mantra that organic farmers across the country have taken up, but there’s a still a long way to go.
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The State of Organic Farming in North America
Heide’s success story is another in a line of organic farmers who have gained notoriety over the years for doing what the establish previous said was impossible.
Will Allen, an urban organic farmer based out of Milwaukee, gained a truckload of attention and praise after he showed the world how to grow as much as “a million pounds of food on three acres of land” through his indoor growing project. The project was forced to dissolve many of its operations due to financial challenges, however, and is now being transformed into a small co-op, urban farm school, and trauma resolution center.
Another well known farmer, Jim Cochran, defied the “experts” by turning his conventional strawberry farm into an all-organic operation after he was poisoned by his own pesticides.
Now, Heide is the latest in a long line of organic dreamers who envision a system where food can be grown on a large scale without toxic, synthetic pesticides.
And his contribution comes at a time when it’s more needed than ever before, with Monsanto’s pending merger with Bayer looming and plans to flood the market with new “longer-lasting” GMOs advancing.
Thanks for reading! You can learn more about Heide’s project at OrganicsCanada.com, and you can also check out a video chronicling his time teaching organic farming to South Sudan residents below.