Jon Frank was literally born with an appreciation for the soil. In fact, he believes this was instilled in him when his mother worked in her own garden very late in her pregnancy. Whatever influence that may have had, his earliest memories are of working alongside his mother in the garden.
She gave him his own plot to tend by the time he’d turned four, and from the moment he started gardening he realized that he was drawn not only to the plants themselves but also to the soil they were growing in. He instinctively understood the importance of the soil and knew that it was the key to making his garden successful.
Growing up in rural Minnesota gave him plenty of opportunity to indulge that interest, and he relished every moment of it. When he came upon a passage in the Old Testament that said, “Noah, being a man of the soil, planted a vineyard,” he was struck by those words. It was at that moment that he knew he’d found his life’s calling: to quite literally be a “man of the soil.” He discovered how that amazing resource was an integral part of our life cycle, opening the door to better nutrition and better health.
Seeing his family members succumbing to illness, including a grandfather who died of pancreatic cancer and his mother, who would eventually die of melanoma, only increased his desire to discover everything he could about the connection between good health, nutritious food and the soil it grows in. This personal interest, combined with his own natural curiosity, lead him to read up on everything he possibly could about the science of soil.
He dove headfirst into the work of the pioneers of soil mineralization including Julius Hensel, Sampson Morgan, John J. Ruegg and Albert Carter Savage. It was Hensel’s book “Bread from Stones” that became the bible of the soil mineralization field. In it, Hensel details how he was able to make the connection between minerals in finely ground rock powders and nutrient levels in soil.
While working as a miller, Hensel accidently adjusted his millstones too close together, resulting in wheat flour mixed with finely ground granite dust. Knowing he couldn’t use the flour to make bread, he sprinkled it around some plants and was astonished to see how much it improved their growth and health.
Later, as a practical chemist, he recommended using rock powders, gypsum and limestone rather than chemical fertilizers to improve the quality of soil. Sampson Morgan picked up Hensel’s torch and brought the idea of soil mineralization to England, where he spawned a movement called the “Clean Culture.” Putting their beliefs to work, Morgan and his followers won many awards for producing the largest yield and highest quality of fruits and vegetables.
John Ruegg and Albert Carter Savage brought that same movement to the United States, where they were able to use local minerals to improve the quality of soil and produce amazing results. Ruegg bought a farm in Clifton, New Jersey and used small amounts of manure and mineralized powdered lava to enrich his soil. Within three years, he had flourishing crops with no sign of sickness, disease or insect susceptibility.
Savage increased his reach to focus on human health and how it could be positively affected by the use of foods grown in mineralized soil. He established a garden in Nicholasville, Kentucky and invited sick people to come and partake of the fruits and vegetables that he grew there. Many of these people saw dramatic improvements in their health simply from adding mineralized foods from his garden to their regular diet. Buoyed by these results, Savage began looking for more resources to produce the perfect balance of minerals in the soil. His book, “Mineralization: Will It Reach You In Time?” drew the link between the importance of mineralization and human health.
While these early pioneers laid the foundation for the concept of soil mineralization in the 1800’s, there was another wave of scientists who brought it into the modern age. Charles Northern established his business, Soil Builders Inc., in Orlando, Florida, and focused on using soft rock phosphate for soil mineralization. Along with improving the growth of crops, he also had a further influence by mentoring a young man named Carey A. Reams.
Through his work as a crop consultant and with the soil testing laboratory he owned, Reams created a system called the Brix chart for determining soil density. After his retirement in 1969, Dr. Reams continued to influence younger generations by training them in methods for proper mineralization of soil. Dr. William Albrecht and Dr. Maynard Murray are two other innovators who were able to cast light on the importance of such minerals like calcium in soil and to draw a direct connection between those elements and improving health.
It was the work of these pioneers that would influence a young Jon Frank, who became an avid reader of their books as a teen and young man. After spending two years in Bible College in Dallas, Texas, he completed a third year of mission work and then an internship in India, where he met his wife. After starting their family, they came back to the States, and Jon returned to his love of the soil. He opened International AG Labs, his own soil testing laboratory, and began consulting with growers across the country.
In 2005, Jon decided to expand his reach to include those with smaller, backyard gardens. The result was his next business venture, High Brix Gardens, which opened in 2005. Always looking for ways to spark a love of soil mineralization in others, he conceived the idea of a simple gardening program that includes a one-stop shopping experience. That was the idea behind the Grow Your Own Nutrition program. With this latest venture, Jon hopes to reach an even wider modern audience and to encourage them all to become men, and women, of the soil!