Project Farmhand is a comprised of a diverse group of leaders in the organic farming industry. Members of this project have worked to solve organic farm operator challenges by creating the process to identify, train, and support emerging organic operators specifically for investors of ag land to be transitioned to organic.
Ben is a graduate of Aurora University (’05), where he studied biology, chemistry, and human health. Prior to Merge Organics, Ben spent eight years leading agronomy and sustainability for a Midwest based crop nutrient company, while also focusing on data analytics, land valuation, and crop modeling. Ben co-founded Merge Organics to provide stakeholders in organic agriculture with an efficient, profitable, and tested strategy to re-establish ecosystem services at the field level.
Ben founded Merge Organics in March 2020 to provide the organic farming space with a technical approach to agronomy, sustainability, and data systems to address ecosystem services in organic agriculture. Early in 2021, Ben launched Merge Marketplace, an evolving online platform for connecting buyer, sellers, landowners, and farmers in organic agriculture. Ben resides in Morrison, IL with his wife and two daughters.
B.S University of Wyoming 2000, Agricultural Economics.
Married to his amazing wife Ashley. 3 awesome kids, Collin (16), Cameron (12), Caitlin (11). The Jessens own and operate a large organic farm in Wyoming. 5th generation farmer raising wheat, edible beans, corn, barley, hay and other grains. Certified organic for 20+ years. We also own and operate Wyoming’s only certified organic grain elevator where we proudly supply organic grain to companies who pride themselves on quality. Ship via truck or rail.
University of Illinois 2014 Environmental Sciences
Jon is a Data Analytics Coordinator at Midwestern Bio Ag Holdings where he processes and analyzes relevant on-farm data for the grower and organizational levels including yield correlation, elevation mapping, and VRT creation.
Jon has worked with growers and landowners across the Midwest to identify and address in-field challenges by using predictive modeling, open-source data tools, aggregate field data, and analytics. Using these tools and experience with farmers, Jon provides Project Farmhand with the ability to engage farmers with industry leading tech and data collection systems for managing organic farmland.
Craig has over 30 years of engineering and entrepreneurial experience. Craig started his career in 1988 as a hardware engineer at Motorola, designing and developing the first GSM and Iridium mobile stations. Craig then joined John Deere in 2002, designing and developing their Starfire GPS receiver and Greenstar display.
In 2002, Craig founded Alliance Technologies Group (ATG) and focused on providing state-of-the-art RF measurement and generation software for high-volume manufacturing. Acquired by National Instruments in 2005, he became a Chief Measurement Architect, developing AM, FM, RDS, Bluetooth, GSM, EDGE, CDMA2k, EVDO, WCDMA, TDSCDMA, and LTE solutions.
In 2012, Craig founded 640 Labs, envisioning agriculture adopting an off-the-self iPad as a data collection and monitoring device. He was the person behind the creation of the 640 Drive. Acquired by Monsanto in 2014, he made his FieldView Drive one of the fastest, widely adopted devices in agriculture.
In 2018, Craig founded Sabanto, a Farming-as-a-Service company that performs field operations using autonomous equipment. He was the first to autonomously plant a farmer’s field in Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, Illinois, and Indiana.
Raised on a farm in Iowa, he earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at Iowa State University in 1988 and subsequently earned his master’s degree from Illinois Institute of Technology in 1990. He currently has 14 patents.
Management of 4,000 acres of certified & transitional organic cropland in central Illinois.
Accredited by the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers.
Over a decade of working as a professional farm manager for a major regional bank.
Licensed Illinois Real Estate Managing Broker, with many years of experience in locating, analyzing and purchasing farms for clients.
Ten years of working for the USDA.
BS in Agricultural Business from Western Illinois University.
Alan has had a passion for conservation since he started his career in agriculture in 2000. He has set his goal as striving to bring conservation actions into mainstream agriculture by bringing the tools and knowledge necessary to farmers, land owners and farm managers. Having held positions on many sides of the agriculture economy, Alan has a unique perspective to implementing conservation efforts on to the land. Since prepping his first SAFE Acres field over 15 years ago, he has not looked back in ways to minimize erosion, increase wildlife and help to eradicate invasive species across central Illinois. He has been heavily involved in the watershed improvement plans in the area in helping to locate and install conservation practices to help meet the goals of improved drinking water quality and overall decrease in erosion of top soil while increasing wildlife habitat.
In his free time, Alan enjoys camping, fishing and foraging with the many state and national parks with his wife Adrianne and dog Dylan.