Toby Grotz, Engineer and Local Foods Advocate

Name: Toby GrotzToby Grotz Local Foods Advocate

Occupation: Electrical Engineer

Place of Residence:Viroqua, Wisconsin

Background and Personal History: Toby Grotz is an electrical engineer who has been involved on both sides of the energy equation: exploring for oil and gas and geothermal resources and in the utility industry working in coal, natural gas, and nuclear power plants. While working in the aerospace industry, he worked on space shuttle and Hubble telescope testing in a solar simulator and space environment test facility. He has also been involved in research for new energy sources and novel forms of hydrogen production.

Toby attended the first Earth Day while at the University of Connecticut and took the first course offered in Environmental Engineering. His passion for environmental issues was fired by reading Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring, which he says should be required reading for every high school student. In 1976, Toby met Jim Fowler an organic farming pioneer who owned the first health food store in Denver and introduced him to the research and work of natural farming advocates of the 1900’s, such as Lady Eve Balfour and J.I. Rodale.

Toby has been a community garden advocate and organizer ever since. Recent projects include lecturing for the Food Not Lawns classes sponsored by the University of Missouri, Kansas City Communiversity. He is a member of the Sierra Club and past officer of the Kanza Group. Toby was on the steering committee and helped organize the “Coming Home to Eat” Conferences, which helped raise awareness for local and organic farming and the necessity of working with local natural food producers to bring their products into school lunch programs, restaurants, and corporate offices. He is a member of the Kansas City Food Circle, which has for 25 years worked to develop a permanently sustainable local food system.

Current Projects: Toby is a Food Not Lawns Kansas City course instructor and organizer. He is also working on increased efficiency generator and transformer design applications.

Other Fun Facts: Dowser, investigating electromagnetic and geomagnetic influences on seed germination and possible use in pre-historic indigenous cultures and application to current farming practice. Also, Toby is a Solar Oven chef.

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