When Larry Jacobs was knocked out by fumes from the pesticides he was applying to trees on his farm, he vowed to never use agricultural chemicals again. After this formative moment, Jacobs went on to develop and refine methods of organic pest control, and became a pioneer in the organic food movement.
Jacobs, co-founder of Jacobs Farm, is this week’s Food Hero and one of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s 2013 Growing Green Award winners.
At Jacobs Farm, Jacobs uses non-toxic pest control, including beneficial insects, to keep harmful pests off of his crops. Jacobs Farm, located between San Francisco and Santa Cruz in California, is currently the largest producer of fresh cut herbs in the United States.
Jacobs’ other project is Del Cabo Farms, a farmers’ cooperative located in southern Baja California, Mexico. Since 1986, Jacobs has been involved with helping farmers in this region of Mexico organize themselves and market their organic produce around the world. At Del Cabo Farms, “Our goal is to ensure that farming and business practices can be carried on for generations. We seek out the big picture and strive to seek out greener and more sustainable options company wide.”
While organic farming is very prominent today, when Jacobs started he didn’t have many peers doing the same thing. As Jacobs related in an interview with the University of California-Santa Cruz, when he started going back to school, “There wasn’t any support for organics because it was not on the radar.” After graduating from college, Jacobs learned more about organic farming from Helen and Scott Nearing, organic blueberry farmers in Maine.
In awarding Jacobs the Growing Green Award, the Natural Resources Defense Council said that it hopes “to encourage other businesses, farmers, and innovators to join us in growing healthy food in a healthier way.”