John Mesko – Executive Director

John Mesko

John Mesko, Executive Director of SFA

Born and raised in Minnesota, John attended Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., obtaining a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agronomy and a Master of Science Degree in Farm Management.

His career in industrial agriculture led to a position as the Technical Information Manager for Mycogen Seeds, the seeds division of Dow Agrosciences, a subsidiary of Dow Chemical. In this role, he took a peek “behind the curtain” of the global agriculture industry and wasn’t encouraged by what he saw.

John was playing an important role in the global dominance of food, food supply and food production of a huge, multi-national corporation. His work was ultimately resulting in the reduction of profit to the farmer, a reduction of food choice to the consumer and an overall downgrading of the environment. Ultimately, some of the future biotechnology plans in place at the time were frightening, and he could no longer support an organization with such a cavalier attitude toward human life, food and the environment.

As a father of a future generation and caretaker of the soil, something needed to change.

John moved to Purdue as a County Extension Director and Solid Waste Management District Director in East Central Indiana. He worked with emerging organic and sustainable farm operations, focused on expanding the markets for goods from these farms, and worked to educate producers and consumers about the choices both can make in the areas of community supported agriculture, direct marketing, farmers markets, food cooperatives, and farm-to-institution arrangements.

In 2005, Lighthouse Farm was born. The Meskos moved to John’s boyhood farm in central Minnesota and started farming from scratch. The fences used years ago for grazing beef and dairy herds had disintegrated and the hog fencing had been taken down; fencing of all kinds, sheep, hog, and cattle were project priorities in the beginning. Marketing directly to consumers, Lighthouse Farm began raising beef, pork, lamb, chickens, turkeys, goats, eggs, and ducks; the farm has since moved mainly to grass-fed beef production. They’ve also held workshops on the farm, developed educational DVDs, and consulted with many new farmers and rural residents about how to use their land sustainably.

Since taking the reins as Sustainable Farming Association Executive Director in 2009, John has piloted SFA’s resurgence as a growing member organization that makes a greater impact in the sustainable agriculture movement.

John also teaches a college-level Environmental Science class and regularly speaks about sustainability, family farming, and the future of agriculture. He can be reached at john@sfa-mn.org.