Evan Folds continues to cultivate new ideas. His latest endeavor, Be Agriculture, is an online platform aiming to inspire people to take a seat at the table of agriculture.
“The reality is everyone doesn't have the time or the resources to grow their own food; society is not set up like that,” Folds said. “But we are all still a part of agriculture; eating is an agricultural act and our buying power and how we choose to spend our food dollars literally results in the food that we are served.”
The seeds of Be Agriculture were sown at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, where Folds graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology and a minor in religion. A turning point was finding a book called Secrets of the Soil: New Solutions for Restoring Our Planet, exploring scientific and mystical approaches to enhancing soil. This clicked with the bio/religion student, giving him a spiritual understanding of agriculture.
After dabbling in hydroponics, Folds launched Progress Earth Inc., a sustainable products startup for which he won a Coastal Entrepreneur Award in 2012. He grew the business into Progressive Gardens and Progressive Farms, an organic gardening retail, product development and manufacturing operation.
Folds nurtured the operation over several years, but in 2016, he felt he wasn’t doing enough to move people toward a personal agriculture approach to better eating, buying and growing.
“I see people outsourcing their decisions on health and nourishment to other entities, and feel strongly about the idea of helping people become their own expert,” he said.
He shuttered Progressive Gardens and Progressive Farms, turning his attention to developing Be Agriculture, which he launched in March.
Folds’ view is that modern America’s approach to agriculture is the same as its approach to health care, treating symptoms rather than underlying problems. In agriculture, instead of nurturing good, healthy soil, some stores push weed killers, insect killers, fungicides and the like.
The result is in an increase in the symptoms themselves; a marked increase in degenerative and auto-immune disease; and an exponential loss of topsoil over time. This quickfix, toxic rescue chemistry is making the problem worse, Folds said.
BeAgriculture pushes ideas such as not disturbing the soil food web, composting to actively grow microbes responsible for creating healthy soil and mitigating use of artificial materials hindering mechanisms of natural living systems.
In addition to education, BeAgriculture.com provides links to purchase fertilizer, composting equipment and live earthworms, in addition to buying a piece of Folds himself, either as a virtual gardener providing advice to customers or as an in-person consultant.
“Food is no longer our medicine, but it can be with some intention. Agriculture represents the problem, and at the same time, the solution to just about every issue we face in modern society. If we fix the soil, we fix ourselves,” Folds said.