Harold Hartzler (March 10, 1926-May 21, 2011) had farmed all his life. But it was in 1954 or '55 that the sprays came along. He drove 50 miles to buy them and started putting it on his hay and corn fields. One day, a heavy rain came in right after he had sprayed. It ran over to a neighbor's hay field and killed everything on the field. Their neighbor was an elderly gentleman whose fields they helped tend. He had never trusted the chemicals and asked Harold shortly thereafter not to use any of the chemicals on his fields again.
Later Harold began to notice how hard his soil was becoming to plow and that his livestock was unhealthy. Most calves were barely living two weeks. Disturbing trends seemed to be developing beneath the earth, too. His sister loved earthworms. She would follow the plow furrow and fill jars with them in a matter of just a few feet. One day Harold was in the middle of plowing a field and it was really hard. So he stopped the tractor and got down just to look around. He walked almost 500 feet and only found two worms. To him, this was evidence the soil was dying.
Harold Hartzler had no governmental help, no professional advice, and no research supporting what he was about to do. Nevertheless, he felt strongly that he had to do it. They went cold turkey from chemicals in 1964 and never looked back.
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