School of Environmental & Natural Resource Sciences
John Slack is a fourth generation miner who graduated from the Haileybury School of Mines, as a mining technologist in 1979. From 1979 to 1992 John worked throughout Canada's North in the search of economic mineral deposits. This entailed extensive stream sediment, soil geochemistry, geological mapping, compilations, mine development and mine management. Though not realized at the time this training and work would result in employing these techniques in the evaluation of agricultural landscapes.
In 1992 John left the mining industry and started farming on the family's 330 acre property, Golden Innisfree Farms, located in Erin Township. The farm was a grassed based cow calf operation comprised of 60 cows. Today the farm is comprised of organic vegetable production and a grass based sheep dairy. The long-term goals of the farm is to one day operate a small farm based artisan creamery.
Coinciding with farm activities John, along with his father, started to evaluate and experiment with agrominerals. Commonly referred to as rock powder and rock dust this research resulted in developing the Spanish River Carbonatite Complex, a unique igneous (magmatic) calcium carbonate deposit. In pursuit of sales John commenced soil auditing services that resulted in introducing soil evaluation methodologies, commonly employed in mineral exploration, to farm clients.
"In my quest to develop markets for Spanish River Carbonatite and starting somewhat accidentally I began a career of prospecting agricultural soils. I have had the good fortune of evaluating the diverse landscapes of northern and the thumb of Michigan, the Great Northern Clay Belt, Rainy River District, Fingers Lakes Region of New York State and most physiographic regions of Southern Ontario, specifically the wine regions of Ontario, the agricultural core of Ontario centered in Chatham-Kent, Essex and Lampton Counties, the Ottawa Valley and the moraine complexes that recharge every major drainage basin in Southern Ontario."
"An agricultural prospector not only evaluates the geology of an area but must incorporate the interaction of life with geology to determine the vibrancy of the landscape investigated. The investigation of these large geographic areas and local landforms created from a diverse geological history has resulted in recognizing the connection between geology, soil development, the resulting intensity of biological activity and the geochemical signature inherited through the interaction of plants, microbes and minerals."