two farmers holding soil and tomatoes, respectively
Farmer Heroes David Vetter & Evan Gregoire

Blog | May 18, 2022

Your Farmer Heroes Are Protecting Soil and the Climate

by Matt Glidden

After a long winter, with the warm sun on my face at last, it’s easy to keep my eyes jumping from one flower or tree to the next. But the Farmer Heroes below, nominated by our readers, are inspiring me to look down and see the beauty and importance in the soil under our feet. These family farmers are playing an important role presenting solutions to our world’s changing climate.

We’re always looking to learn about innovative farmers impacting their communities and beyond. Fill out our nomination form to tell us about your Farmer Hero.

David Vetter

David Vetter holding soil

Jane Coghlan nominated David Vetter after seeing the care he puts into his farm near Marquette, Nebraska first-hand:

Since 1975, David Vetter has been conducting an ongoing experiment in how to grow food on his 280-acre family farm, The Grain Place, in a way that is both regenerative to the soil and economically viable. David’s father, Don Vetter, adopted organic farming methods on their farm in the early 1950s when he began to question the science and ethics of the emerging use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. The Vetters became known as organic pioneers not only regionally, but also nationally. In 1987, David also established Grain Place Foods, a grain processing and marketing business, to provide a place for other organic farmers to get their grain cleaned and marketed. Grain Place Foods ultimately serves as a steward to other local farms in their journey toward organic production. David’s commitment to organic agriculture has driven him on, past innumerable challenges and obstacles. He has always had a vision for success that’s broader than his own self, which led him to develop an infrastructure for the marketing of organic grains in his local area.

David not only takes care of his land for the sake of making a profit with his crops and livestock, but also for the sake of all the biodiversity on and around his farm, from the micro-organisms in the soil to all the birds that visit his land. He puts an immense amount of time and thought into his farming practices with a diverse 9 year rotation that includes various types of grain, cover crops, and grazing cattle & pigs. I had the privilege of interning at the Grain Place Farm in the summers of 2019 and 2020, and I got to see first-hand the wonderfully healthy and productive land. Taking care of the soil to ensure a thriving ecosystem and sustainable farm is David’s highest priority. In doing so, his crops and animals are equally as healthy as the soil, producing nutritious and delicious food. David inspired me to study sustainable food systems at Arizona State University and become a changemaker in transforming our food system to become more equitable and environmentally sustainable. If you’re interested in learning more about David Vetter, you can watch the documentary about his farm called “Dreaming of a Vetter World.”

Learn more about David and Grain Place Foods on their website.

Watch the trailer for Dreaming of a Vetter World below:

Evan Gregoire

farmer Evan Gregoire holding tomatoes

Photo © Javier Maggalentes

Environmental sustainability is at the center of Lisa Jordan’s nomination for Evan Gregoire too. Check out what she wrote about this Portland, Oregon farmer:

To sum it up as best as possible, our friend Evan Gregoire works hard to handle every aspect of the Farm Aid mission and beliefs.

He and his small company handles seed preservation and stewardship of these lost heirlooms.

The long term mission is to ensure continued preservation of these resilient varieties through education of the local community about organic open-pollinated vegetables. As our region and climate are projected to change over the next several decades, it is vital that everyone expand our knowledge and consciousness about our local food systems by planting and saving seeds that have resilience.

He just walks a strong walk rather than talking a talk. I am proud to nominate him as a Farmer Hero.

In addition to his seeds, Evan also operates a CSA program and grows private culinary gardens for top chefs in the Pacific Northwest. Learn more on his website.

"The most important people are the ones who plant the seeds and care for the soil where they grow." – Willie Nelson

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