Elkins farmer and entrepreneur wins Vanguard Ag competition

Feb. 28, 2020

Elkins, W.Va. – Wil Spencer, owner of Environotics Unlimited, is the winner of the 2020 West Virginia Vanguard Agriculture Competition, sponsored by the Robert B. Byrd Institute, (RCBI). Spencer was presented the award at the annual West Virginia Small Farm Conference in Charleston Friday afternoon.

Spencer’s line of products is a microbe-based bioremediation and regeneration system for soil and water. The process cleans toxins, heavy metals, pesticide residue and other elements from soil so that farmers and growers can yield more nutritious and better tasting food.

“Our system transmutes constituents in the soil into nontoxic, chemical-free and pesticide-residue-free food that is healthier for people and animals,” Spencer said.

Spencer said his product outperformed 17 other products in a field-test on a tomato crop in California. The crop grown in soil treated with Spencer’s product experienced a 47.9 percent increase in yield and a 20 percent increase in nutrient density.

In addition to agricultural uses, Spencer’s products have applications for use in restoring soil on and around oil and gas well pads, Superfund sites, golf courses and military and industrial complexes.

Born and raised on a farm in Northern Minnesota, Spencer and his wife moved to Randolph County six years ago. He said they came here because he always loved the Appalachian culture and heritage.

Spencer said that the use of microbe amendments to soils for remediation and regeneration is a process that has been used in other countries for decades. He learned from a mentor who has been employing the use of microbes since the 1960s.

“Wil Spencer’s commitment to healthier plants and food and his field-tested approach to improving the food chain by regenerating the soil is a natural and environmentally conscious approach to producing better quality foods,” said Bill Woodrum, director of Entrepreneurship and project coordinator for Agricultural Innovations at RCBI. “We are glad he brought his ideas to West Virginia and are proud to support his efforts.”

As winner of the West Virginia Vanguard Agricultural Competition, Spencer will receive a business assistance package valued in excess of $10,000, including product design and development assistance, funding opportunities, marketing assistance and other services.

The annual contest is part of RCBI’s Agricultural Innovations Initiative, a focused effort to improve opportunities for West Virginia’s farming and agricultural economy. Funded by a grant from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, the initiative support and enhances a vibrant local food system by promoting entrepreneurship and innovation.