Healthy Soil. Healthy Food. Healthy People. These are the cornerstones of TerraVesco.
TerraVesco’s mission is plain and simple: work hand-in-hand with the genius of nature to feed the soil and grow healthier, more beautiful plants organically and sustainably.
There is a strong movement toward an organic, sustainable approach to modern agriculture to meet the challenge of feeding the world’s increasing population without compromising soil, plant, environmental, or human health. At the center of sustainable agriculture is organic soil health.
As more and more growers look to transition away from using chemicals, they must incorporate organic solutions that naturally accelerate soil fertility and biodiversity. TerraVesco’s vermicompost products do just that. Our unique production process leverages the power of earthworms to create highly consistent biological and sustainable soil amendments that produce healthier, more resilient food and plants.
The conventional, industrial approach to agriculture leads to soil degradation, and requires increasing use of inorganic, chemical inputs to maintain crop yields. There are seven basic farming practices that form the back bone of modern industrial agriculture:
- Intensive tillage
- Application of inorganic fertilizers
- Chemical pest control
- Genetic manipulation of domesticated plants
Many of the techniques that have been used to increase productivity have a great many negative consequences that, in the long term, work to undermine the productivity of agricultural land. Conventional means of increasing productivity will need to be supplemented to help meet the increasing food needs of an expanding global population.
The powerful green, sustainable movement is a primary driver behind the trends currently impacting American agriculture. The higher prices that organic produce command has enabled significant growth in the number of organic farms and local farmers’ markets. A growing number of industrial, conventional farmers are exploring ways to integrate organic practices and crops into their overall product mix to take advantage of better pricing and higher profit margins.
The green, sustainable movement continues to have a significant impact on environmental policy and government regulation of the pollution caused by agriculture. An increasing number of Americans are concerned about their own health and the health of their families. The current epidemics of obesity and diabetes demand greater analysis of the potential causes and a re-evaluation of the approach to modern agriculture and the food delivery system.
All of these factors will continue to increase the demand for alternative, organic soil amendments in various segments of the agricultural industry. Management believes these trends are well entrenched and long lasting, and will continue to offer favorable conditions for the future growth of companies that elevate themselves within the commercial agriculture space by providing science and data-validated solutions and consistent, reliable, high quality products.
TerraVesco produces high quality OMRI listed, CDFA certified organic Vermicompost and Vermi-extract. Both academic and commercial field trials document the efficacy of vermicompost and extract in the delivery of a range of benefits including increased plant development and growth, stronger plant resiliency, enhanced nutrient uptake and improved transplant success. By incorporating TerraVesco Vermicompost and Vermi-extract into soil, nature can do what nature does best: cycle nutrients, nourish plants, and fight disease.
TerraVesco’s Vermicompost is produced through a continuous-flow reactor process that converts organic dairy manure into a rich microbial and diverse soil amendment with the help of earthworms (E. fetida). The process is designed to deliver a premium, professional grade soil amendment that meets the requirements of the most demanding commercial growers.
TerraVesco’s Vermi-extract is the liquid version of the foundational vermicompost product and is designed to deliver similar efficacy through irrigation systems, drip lines or spraying devices.
The vermiculture industry is comprised of an eclectic array of small, regionalized, undercapitalized competitors that lack product consistency, production scalability and significant commercial market penetration. TerraVesco has the necessary products, expertise, reputation, processes, and academic, scientific and managerial leadership to elevate it into a national leadership role in the vermiculture industry.
Terravesco has a multitude of advantages that make it a superior choice when compared with other companies offering similar products:
- A proprietary production process that is scalable and delivers a high quality, consistent product that meets the demanding standards of commercial growers. In addition, TerraVesco’s products are OMRI listed and CDFA certified* which is a significant differentiator in the industry.
- Considerable expertise in worm husbandry and vermiculture. Founder and President, Jack Chambers is a recognized, industry leading authority on worm husbandry and a master of the continuous flow-reactor production process.
- Strong positioning as a science and data driven company. TerraVesco is elevated in the commercial agricultural space by pursuing rigorous academic and commercial field trials, maintaining an Academic and Scientific Advisory Board of leading scientists in horticulture, plant pathology, viticulture, soil science and microbiology, and having a Chief Scientist with a Ph.D. in Plant Pathology as part of the senior management team.
- An enviable existing customer list of some of the most successful and admired premium winemakers in Northern California. In addition, close proximity to these key customers reduces shipping and transportation costs.
*OMRI and CDFA certifications for TerraVesco’s vermicompost products are currently held under the name of the Sonoma Valley Worm Farm. The company is currently applying for OMRI and CDFA certification under the name of TerraVesco for Q1 2015.
Eating organic is a huge trend. The green, sustainable movement is strong, sophisticated, institutionalized and global. The green sustainable movement is driven by strong generational values and preferences.
According to the 2013 US Families’ Organic Attitudes and Beliefs Study, conducted by the Organic Trade Association: (include the Organic Trade Association logo)
- 81% of parents report buying organic products, up significantly from the 73% who reported doing so in the 2009 benchmark study.
- “Newly Organic” consumers–relatively new entrants to the organic market–have increased to 41% of families.
- 52% of families report that they are buying more organic items than they were 12 months ago.
- 97% of organic buyers say they bought fruits or vegetables in the past 6 months.
- 94% of organic buyers believe that organic foods are better for you and for the environment
- 48% of organic consumers believe that organic is healthier for their families
As commercial growers want to participate in the higher prices and profits offered by certified organic commodities, they must comply with the stringent USDA rules and regulations outlined in the National Organic Program (NOP). Farmers cannot gain organic certification until three years after they last applied chemicals.
TerraVesco Vermicompost and Vermi-extract help farmers adhere to NOP standards.
The TerraVesco management team and Advisory Boards have significant entrepreneurial expertise and a track record of success. Jack Chambers is an industry leader and master of the vermicompost production process. Chairman, Brian O’Toole was the Ernst& Young, Entrepreneur of the Year in 2005. Richard North has over 15 years of management consulting experience and comes from a multi-generational farming family.The Academic and Scientific Advisory Board brings an unprecedented level of academic and scientific understanding of organic soil health and soil microbiology. Former US Secretary of Agriculture, Ann Veneman leads the Business Advisory Board.
TerraVesco has demonstrated that great products draw great customers. TerraVesco has an enviable customer list that includes some of the most successful and admired winemakers, soil mixers, nurseries and produce growers in California. TerraVesco knows that commercial growers demand consistent, dependable, high-quality products to help improve their crop yields and performance. TerraVesco products deliver on all fronts.
While the business now operates under the name of TerraVesco, the company has been in operation as the Sonoma Valley Worm Farm, LLC since 1992. TerraVesco was recently established as part of an overall strategy to elevate the company within the vermiculture industry, and with commercial segments of California agriculture. TerraVesco has fully commercialized products, growing commercial market acceptance, and an enviable existing customer list. The company is successfully establishing its scientific credentials by accumulating academic and commercial trial data that documents product efficacy. The company more than tripled annual production of vermicompost over the past two years to 600 cubic yards, and is currently scaling production capacity at a new facility to once again triple to an annual production of 1,800 cubic yards. Sales were $144,000 in 2013, and increased to $358,000 in 2014.
Over the years, Jack Chambers and the Sonoma Valley Worm Farm have received considerable media coverage from numerous outlets including The New York Times, the Press Democrat, The San Francisco Chronicle, Eye on the Bay (CBS SF Bay Area) and Growing a Greener World (PBS).
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The Sonoma Valley Worm Farm, LLC (TerraVesco) was founded by Jack Chambers in 1992. The farm was the original site of a worm husbandry operation that supplied worms to local bait shops and local gardeners to improve the soil in their gardens. Jack, a commercial airline captain and avid gardener living in Sonoma, California, had purchased worms at the farm to begin vermicomposting table scraps in a compost bin in his backyard. Jack was astounded by the ability of the worms to quickly convert the table scraps into a rich, dark humus that could be used to improve the quality of the soil in his gardens. Jack was hooked.
Jack purchased the worm farm in 1992. Over the next twenty years, he traveled to vermiculture and compost conventions all over the world to learn as much as he could about worm husbandry, composting, and the development of new technologies for producing vermicompost and vermicompost teas. He sought out the knowledge and opinions of leading academics who were just beginning to research the efficacy of vermicompost in building healthy soils and plants. He studied the new methods and technologies that were being used to improve and refine the production process for vermicompost. He researched how earthworms convert waste into an organic soil amendment that leads to healthier, more beautiful flowers, and better tasting herbs, fruits and vegetables. Through trial and error, and first-hand observation of the significant improvement in the performance of his own garden and vineyard, Jack was convinced that there was a great opportunity to help local organic farmers, wine grape producers and gardeners grow healthier plants in a natural, organic and sustainable way by engaging the help of the selfless earthworm.
Over the years, Jack’s boundless passion for worm husbandry and vermicomposting has enabled him to become one of the industry’s leading authorities. Jack is frequently sought out by others looking to learn more about worm husbandry, vermicomposting, and the production process that he’s successfully developed over the years. At TerraVesco, Jack has continued to provide high-quality vermicompost and extract to the local agriculture community, wine grape producers, and to Master Gardeners and gardening enthusiasts looking to improve their soils organically.
See TerraVesco in action on an eposide of Growing a Greener World.
Jack is the Founder and President of TerraVesco and directs and manages the production of vermicompost and vermi-extract. He also heads up the Research and Development team, and supervises ongoing commercial and academic field trials.
Brian is a 30- year veteran of the financial services industry. He co-founded AssetMark Investment Sevices, which was sold to Genworth Financial in 2006. He then served as the CEO of Genworth Financial Wealth Management, where he was responsible for strategic planning, product development and directing the firm’s practice management training and consulting activities. Brian is co-author of “The Art of Investing and Portfolio Management,” and was recognized as an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2005. In 2009, Brian retired from Genworth Financial Wealth Management to provide entrepreneurial guidance to promising early-stage sustainable businesses. In 2012, he became a principal in the Sonoma Valley Worm Farm and was later named Chairman of TerraVesco.
Richard comes from a multi-generational farming family, with strong ties to agriculture. He also has an extensive background in management consulting and has served clients in numerous industries on a global basis. Most recently, at ZS Associates, Richard helped transform the firm’s global operational delivery capabilities. His team assessed and implemented operational standards and continuous improvement initiatives, increasing the accuracy and efficiency of client operations around the world. As CEO, Richard leads business operations at TerraVesco, including strategy, finance, technology and sales and marketing.
Margaret received her MS (2011) and Ph.D. (2015) in Plant Pathology from UC Davis. Her research examined commercial composts effects on commercial strawberry production, specifically studying root development, disease suppression and productivity. Margaret also received a MS in International Agricultural Development from UC Davis in 2009 and a BA in International Relations and Environmental Science from Tufts University.
Margaret has advised smallholder farms in Kenya, Guinea, and Mali on vegetable production practices. Prior to attending UC Davis, she developed a small business, Home Farming International, which provided consultation, training and installation of sustainable farms for urban and suburban landscapes in the San Francisco Bay Area. Over her 12 years working in agriculture, Margaret has worked on numerous projects including a nationwide campaign to establish a farm at the White House, and the design and installation of an edible garden at the California Department of Food and Agriculture in Sacramento.
Dr. Daniel Kluepfel received a BA in Biology from the University of Missouri, St. Louis and then went on to receive his Ph.D. in Plant Pathology, with a minor in Microbiology, from the University of Florida, Gainesville. In 2003 Dr. Kluepfel joined the USDA/ARS at UC Davis, where he is the Research Leader of the USDA Agricultural Research Service. His expertise is extremely beneficial to TerraVesco as we develop more uses for our products.
Dr. Arancon is currently the Associate Professor of Horticulture at the University of Hawaii, Hilo. He is among the leading researchers in vermicomposting, soil ecology, organic farming, tropical fruit crop production and sustainable agriculture. He advises TerraVesco on trial design and protocols and lends expertise on organic soil science and plant growth and development.
Dr. Paul Anamosa is the owner of Vineyard Soil Technologies and has his Ph.D. in Soil Fertility Management.
Dr. Fisher received his Ph.D. in Horticulture from Michigan State University in 1998 and has over 25 years of experience in agriculture research and advising. He focuses on growing substrate, water and fertilizer issues for the commercial greenhouse industry. At TerraVesco, he advises on trial design and protocols.
Vicki Bess holds a MS in Microbiology from Arizona State University. She is a former adjunct professor at Arizona State University within the Department of Microbiology. She is also the founder and former president of BBC Laboratories, Inc., a commercial agricultural microbiology laboratory.
Ann M. Veneman has a distinguished career in public service, serving as the United States Secretary of Agriculture from 2001 to 2005 and as Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) from 2005 to 2010.
Ed is a shareholder with Greenberg Traurig and advises TerraVesco on legal and business issues, including governance and strategic planning.
David Van Zelst is founder and president of Van Zelst, Inc., a landscape design/build firm. He advises TerraVesco on delivering Vermicompost and Vermi-extract products to the horticulture and landscape markets.
D.G. is an expert in global systems and logistics. He heads Grainger’s Global Supply Chain operations and advises TerraVesco on supply chain operations, distribution and efficiency initiatives.
Ron Carli is the former president and CEO of American Ag Credit.
Ron Cordes is a leader in social entrepreneurship and impact investment. He is co-founder of the Cordes Foundation and co-chairman of Genworth Financial Wealth Management, with more than $20 billion of assets under management. Ron advises TerraVesco on community investing.