It is with great sadness that this morning we received the news that this outstanding human has passed away. Our thoughts and prayers are with his partner Raquel, their daughter Alondra and their family.
Felix Eugenio Gras Menaut was an industrial engineer by degree, but is best known for being a pioneer, along with his old friend and colleague Jairo Restrepo and Sebastião Pinheiro in the regenerative agriculture movement in Latin America.
In 2008 Eugenio invited me to come to his home country of México to teach him and others in the ‘COAS’ (Consejeros en Agricultura Sostenible y Permacultura) about ‘The Keyline Plan. We arrived in El Arenal in 2009 and taught the first of many Keyline and Carbon Farming courses in México.
In 2009 we were teaching Carbon Farming Courses and the Carbon Economy Series across North America and the EU and when we came to México that year I discussed with Eugenio the work of Dr. Elaine Ingham, one of our course teachers. He put me in my seat by stating, “…it is not Campesiño-friendly technology…” and sought to then introduce me to his world of farmer-made biofertilisers and all manner of other farmer-friendly technologies which would allow producers of all scales to get off of the dependancy they’d formed with commercial fertilisers and biocides.
And so over 2009 – 2011 we worked very closely together, Lisa, Pearl, Zane and I spending weeks and months traversing México in his trusty Toyota Hilux teaching (and indefatigably interpreting me) many courses and doing farm planning consultations together. Eugenio always took care of our family, and made time for us on many occasions to enjoy his beautiful country and its amazing culture. At the pinnacle of our time together he even organised a conference in Querétaro which had over 400 people from across México come and where Eugenio, Jairo and I shared the stage for a couple of days with leading rancheros and farmers.
We also worked together in Europe, most notably in El Gastor (Andalucia) in 2012 with our clients La Donaira — a time where Eugenio struck up another friendship with one of my students in Jesús Ruiz Gámez, a Spanish surveyor with a Keyline Planning business. They continued to work closely together for many years.
I remember like yesterday our friend Frank Corr saying when Eugenio was demonstrating the making of biofertiliser in the streets of El Gastor, “…this guy is a rock-star…”, as he held the crowd in suspense throughout.
In 2010 we were able to have Eugenio come to Australia to join us on the RegenAG® Workshop Series, teaching the ‘BioFertile Farms’ component of that series both solo and with the late Paul Taylor. From there he struck a firm relationship and on-going professional relationship with Kym and Georgie Kruse in far north Queensland, passing on his incredible knowledge to them and they do a great job teaching people these methods across Australia and elsewhere.
Eugenio imported a Yeomans Keyline Plow into Mexico and we worked together on building a number of so-called #YoMex ‘Superplows’ and even a ‘Megaplow’ for México’s largest rice grower, who the year before, under Eugenio’s guidance, had gone ‘cold turkey‘ on agricultural chemicals and artificial fertilisers, replacing them entirely with the COAS and eventually Mas Humus array of biofertilisers, amendments and ecological controls.
In 2009 Eugenio gave me the honour of editing his book, ‘Cosecha de Agua y Tierra – Diseño con Permacultura y Línea Clave‘. It remains the best book on the topic in the Spanish language.
During this time together we learned that Eugenio had lived in Australia for a year spending a lot of time at Crystal Waters in SE Queensland, and with his great friends Su Dennett and David Holmgren at their small-holding, Melliodora here in central Victoria.
From 2015-2016 our contact with Eugenio reduced as he spent more and more time with his partner Raquel and their daughter Alondra in rural México. We learned of Eugenio’s illness last year when we were in México with yet another student of his in Gerardo Ruiz Smith and its incredibly sad that he has been taken by it.
We owe Eugenio a great deal as we had no better supporter or partner over those years we worked closely together. I have never worked with a more tireless person, a better interpreter, teacher or practitioner. So many of us will remember his enormous smile, his incredible intellect and knowledge, his deep love of the land, the world and its farmers, and of his family.
Thank you Eugenio and we extend our love to the family he leaves behind.
Un fuerte abrazo mi cuate (A big hug my friend),
Darren J. Doherty,
Castlemaine, Victoria, Australia,
January 16th, 2020