Celebrating a sustainable agriculture giant
A great visionary, organizer, and leader: Tony Kleese (photo credit to Carolina Farm Steward Association)
Some people just stand out. They’re exceptional. We all know someone like this. Their gifts are so many and their vision so pure that the world can barely contain them. Stephen Hawking was one of those people. And for the sustainable agriculture community, so was Tony Kleese. The world let him go this weekend, but his giant legacy will live on.
There likely isn’t an organic farmer in the southeast who hasn’t learned something from Tony, or been enriched by his vision and advocacy. He touched our lives through his organizing and educating and his friendship. He was a pioneer in organic certification, and worked tirelessly to maintain the integrity of the label. Honestly, I’ve been a bit frustrated by the National Organic Standards Board recently, but I can almost hear Tony urging me not to give up on it. His vision for organic agriculture is no small part of the reasons we farm this way. Humble farmers like us wouldn’t exist without the Tonys of the world, and we’re sad to see him leave it. T
he best tribute to this agricultural super hero is to keep farming with integrity and transparency and that’s just what we intend to do.