Jan 7, 2021
Organic community remembers Amigo Bob Cantisano, Richard Rominger
Stephen Kloosterman

California organic growers lost two legends of their industry last month.

Amigo Bob Cantisano, a founding father of organic farming in California, died Dec. 26. He was 69.

Richard Rominger, a former deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, died Dec. 21. He was 93.

California Certified Organic Farmers Board Chair Phil LaRocca said that Amigo Bob Cantisano was a close friend.

“As an early pioneer and true believer, he dedicated his life to growing and strengthening the organic movement,” LaRocca said in a written statement to Organic Grower. “He never gave up in his belief and support for organic farmers. His energy and knowledge will be missed but his impact will never be forgotten.”

He was also a founder of the EcoFarm Conference.

“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,” according to an obituary on the Ecological Farming Association’s website. “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.”

A blog from the University of California Davis recognized Rominger as “a pioneer in both conventional and organic farming.”

“With deep ties to UC Davis, the Rominger family welcomes student and faculty researchers to their 6,000-acre farm to further the science of sustainable food production,” according to the report.

Congressman John Garamendi, D-California, was among those missing Rominger.

Richard Rominger
Richard Rominger

“Patti and I are deeply saddened by Richard Rominger’s passing, and our hearts are with Evelyn and their family during this difficult time,” Garamendi said in a news release Dec. 22. “I called Rich’s cell phone this morning. He did not answer. I’ve called that number hundreds of times seeking advice and counsel, and I have always come away from the conversation with a gem of wisdom, a better solution to a problem, encouragement, and a precious gift of friendship.”

During the Clinton years the Department of Agriculture and Department of Interior, where Rep. Garamendi was also Deputy, teamed up to produce seminal studies on the effects of Climate Change, create the first Tahoe Summit, address droughts, support land conservation efforts nationwide, attack invasive species, and protect America’s great forest, according to the news release.


Stephen Kloosterman is the managing editor of Organic Grower.
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