Jan. 20, 2014
John Kinsman, founder of Family Farm Defenders and long-time family farm advocate, passed away at his family’s farm.
John and his wife, Jean, reared 10 children, supported only by a small organic milking herd raised primarily on grass and hay on a rocky and hilly 150-acre farm in Lime Ridge, Wisconsin.
He adopted organic farming practices after a six-week hospital stay over 50 years ago, which he felt was caused by exposure to pesticides from his conventional farming practices. In a 2009 interview, John told MOSES: “You have to partner with nature, don’t try to change nature to what you want. It will take nature awhile to stabilize after it has been misused, and organic is the only way to bring it back. We must focus on making things better for the next, and all, generations.”
John will perhaps be remembered most for his commitment to teaching and inspiring others. He was a guiding force for many, and was happy to showcase successful organic practices to neighbors and others. He travelled the world, as a dairy farmer volunteer educator and as a representative of several organizations. Counting farming friends on several continents, John often said that he learned an incredible amount by talking to and visiting dairy farmers from all over the world.
John was the one of the founding members of the Family Farm Defenders, which he helped start with 15 others in the early 1990s as an alternative to other national farm organizations. He always saw hope in the large number of farmers, in both the U.S. and abroad, working to reclaim the best of their native traditions, returning to farming the way that people have farmed sustainably for thousands of years.
As a small-farm advocate, John was passionate about farmers using their voices for change. He believed that anyone can generate support for what they do and believe locally, by simply attending meetings or participating on local committees.
John Kinsman is an inspiring example of how one farm, one family and one farmer can have a huge, positive impact on the world.
Photo is from the 2013 MOSES Organic Farming Conference.
See additional profiles of John on the Family Farm Defenders website.