Robert Michael (Amigo Bob) Cantisano image
Obituary

Robert Michael (Amigo Bob) Cantisano

June 25, 1951 – December 26, 2020

Robert Michael (Amigo Bob) Cantisano born June 25, 1951, died on December 26, 2020 at his home with his wife and daughter after an 8 year battle with cancer. His body was washed and anointed with sacred herbs and kept at home for 3 days of prayers and grieving. Wendy Johnson, lay minister of Green Gulch Zen Center, led a small family service gathered around the earthly remains of our beloved farmer/gardener/mentor and early pioneer of the organic farming movement. A big party will be planned once the pandemic fears have faded. Tie Dyes are a must.

Amigo Bob was a powerhouse to be reckoned with.  He was a fierce advocate for the earth. He researched, utilized and taught methods of organic farming that eliminated toxic chemicals and instead focused on working with natural laws and techniques to support the healthy growth and production of food and viticulture plants.

He started on his lifelong work of providing healthy, organic foods to his community in 1972 when he helped start “We The People Natural Foods Cooperative” in Truckee, CA where he met his first wife and mother of his children Kalita Todd, a powerhouse in her own right.

In 1975 he began organic farming in Yuba County and continued when he moved his young family to Nevada County where in 1976 he started Peaceful Valley Farm Supply, an afterthought when he made a minimum order of soft rock phosphate – a train car full, more than he could ever use on his small organic farm on Peaceful Valley Road, Nevada City.

Where he saw a need, he led the charge to make things happen. When he learned that there were organic farmers living near one another who did not even know one another, he, along with Martin Barns, Kalita Todd and Izzy Martin gathered the organic farmers together for what would become the first EcoFarm Conference, the longest running organic farming conference on the west coast. This year will be EcoFarm’s 41st year and will be presented in conjunction with Nevada County’s Sierra Harvest, online January 20-23, 2021 at https://eco-farm.org.

He founded Organic Ag Advisors in 1987, the nation’s first organic crops advisory service which he operated until the last months of his life. He was a certified organic farm inspector from 1988 to1992, founded Aeolia Organics, organic olive and olive oil grower/manufacturing, and the Felix Gillet Institute https://felixgillet.org which contributes to the historic legacy of Nevada County’s Gold Rush era.

Amigo Bob was an integral part of helping to establish many organizations that we now take for granted including: Northern CA Association of Food Cooperatives, CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers), Briar Patch Community Co-op, Transitional Farming Conferences, Organic Market News and Information Service (OMNIS), USDA Low Input Sustainable Agriculture (LISA) technical review committee, now known as the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE), Caltrans Roadside Weed Management Advisory Committee, California Compost Quality Council, Association of Applied IPM Ecologists, OMRI, the Organic Materials Review Institute, San Juan Ridge Seed and Scion Swap amid many others.

He was a dynamic organizer and speaker at more than 200 conferences, workshops and seminars. Without any pre-written notes, he could stand up and talk organic farming and activism and get a huge crowd inspired to go out and change the world for the better.  He said, “There are far too many issues to address at once.  It is overwhelming. Pick one thing to focus on and make some changes.”

Amigo was a deadhead and an active participant at the mythical Oregon Country Fair where he ran the Organic Matters Booth in Energy Park.

Many people come and sat next to Amigo to thank him for inspiring them on their life’s path.

John Williams of Frog’s Leap Winery says, “Amigo is a legend.”

In death Amigo continues to be a pioneer. He wanted to have his body composted in the world’s first human composting facility, just opened for business on December 20, 2020: https://recompose.life/.

Amigo’s wife and Adam Nuber of the Felix Gillet Institute plan to pick up the resulting cubic yard of compost, roughly 30 plus days later. Being an organic farmer, Amigo knew that compost is the foundation of all the best organic farming. It is the living, microbiology that makes minerals and nutrients most bioavailable, contributing to robust, productive and happy plants. It is only fit that he should be composted and become the living biology that will inoculate and nourish the composts, farms and gardens of others.

Amigo’s Facebook page has become a place to share tributes and memories.

People all over the world are praying, chanting and lighting candles for his journey. Even the earth shook in a small earthquake to honor this man who fought his whole life to protect her.

Amigo is survived by his devoted wife, Jenifer Bliss; his former wife Kalita Todd; his four children Cirra Mason (Ian Mason), Amber Stegner (Scott Stegner), Brook Cantisano (Jo Laracy) and Tierra Cantisano Kampas (Jeremy Kampas); two step children, Jessa Pederson-Bliss and Bodhi Pederson; six grandchildren Kayden Cantisano, Athena Kampas, Keller Mason, Cedar Cantisano, Lily Cantisano and Sanvi Kakkeri; his sister Nancy Cantisano and his father Martin Cantisano 92. He will be dearly missed, but his wisdom and aspirations will be picked up and carried for generations.

Land Acknowledgement

Recompose acknowledges we make our lives and livelihoods on the lands of the Coast Salish People, specifically the Duwamish People. We honor with gratitude the Duwamish People past and present, the land itself, and the Duwamish Tribe.

Colonization is an active, persistent process. Indigenous communities continue to be resilient in protecting their ecological and cultural lifeways and deathways despite ongoing oppression. Recompose respects, shares, and supports this commitment to climate healing and environmental justice. Join Recompose in contributing to Real Rent Duwamish.