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AMIGO BOB CANTISANO | EcoFarm Co-Founder and Organic Farming Pioneer | 1951 - 2020

Pictured: Amigo leading the annual EcoFarm Bus Tour -  Photo credit Broken Banjo Photography

Amigo Bob Cantisano passed away on the 26th of December at Heaven and Earth, his farm near Grass Valley, California. Amigo will be recalled as a leader and founder, a farmer and innovator in the coming days as we quantify his accomplishments, but above all he was a visionary, and to be known as such it’s useful to make sure we know what a visionary is. 

A visionary is known for being able to predict sublime outcomes on a grand scale, to treat that unfolding future as an accomplished fact. This Amigo did. He was a public man who came of age when challenges rose up in black and white that needed to be put right. Amigo was imaginative and prescient. He embodied conviction. He was so certain of the righteousness of organic farming’s mission that he spoke with a power that was magical. A visionary like Amigo trusted the sanity of what he learned in his grandmother’s organic garden and intuitively transposed that truth into the simplicity of farming with nature as the model, even organic farming on a grand scale. It had to be true because it had been true all along, true long before chemical agriculture was normalized. This is how the planet has continually renewed itself.  More truth was attracted to the principle like iron filings to a magnet. People recognized the truth he taught, and we recognized in him a voice that could be trusted.

Amigo presenting the Sustie Award to Robert Rodale at EcoFarm Conference

Among the many works he fashioned, he co-founded the annual EcoFarm Conference in Pacific Grove, one of his greatest accomplishments, a legacy which, after forty years is still a grand spectacle of goodwill, learning and a celebration of cooperation. It was at those first EcoFarm Conferences that the incipient organic movement began to share knowledge in the absence of formal support. For many years EcoFarm has been revered as a spiritual gathering enhanced by practical instruction. It has always been a party, but a party with an awesomely important purpose. Amigo will ever be remembered, standing at the dais, exhorting the hundreds gathered at Merrill Hall to be a friend to nature.

He was a chief of our tribe, a separate people who recognized Amigo as the author of an irresistibly true way of living. Many starry-eyed Aquarian youth embarked on this same path when Cantisano first entered it, over fifty years ago, but there was never a more compelling rouser, a loving shepherd over the congregation he taught so generously than this son of California. He worked hard to assure his vision became real.  Thousands follow his trail without knowing who carved it.

Amigo addressing EcoFarm Conference attendees in Merrill Hall - Photo credit Anne Hamersky

More background on the legacy of Amigo Bob Cantisano:

LA Times obituary
New York Times article
UC Santa Cruz interview

If you would like to donate to his family’s GoFundMe site to cover memorial costs, please click here

Amigo Bob Cantisano’s legacy will be discussed at the upcoming EcoFarm Conference, January 20-23, 2021. For more details, click here