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Michael Martin Meléndrez, the founder and owner of Trees That Please, Soil Secrets and the Arboretum Tomé.
Who is Michael?
Michael Martin Melendrez grew up in Las Cruces New Mexico, working alongside his father on the family farm and working as a farm laborer in the onion fields of the Mesilla Valley picking onions as a teenager.
His father inspired his interest in soil when in 1968 while teaching Michael how to judge soil for the upcoming State 4-H contests he said to his son, “Michael, everything we do in farming is wrong and it destroys this, we need to do a better job of taking care of our soil.”
Michael’s dad was a 5th generation farmer and a dealer of John Deere farm equipment, so his words were a powerful message to Michael. As a result of Sam Melendrez training Michael on how to judge soil, Michael went on to win a Blue Ribbon at the State 4-H contests that year.
In his first year of college in 1974 Michael wrote a paper for a class titled ‘Soil Ecology and the Soil Food Web’ where he described what today is accepted by soil scientists worldwide as an accurate description of how nitrogen flows through the trophic levels of life in the soil.
It’s possible that this paper is the first time the phrase Soil Food Web was used.
Years after Michael’s 4-H victory in soil judging, Sam Melendrez helped Michael start a tree growing business with a retail nursery called Trees That Please.
In the early years Michael and his father and his family planted thousands of trees each spring, creating a pipeline of future tree inventory for the nursery.
Since the early days of father and son working side by side, Trees That Please Nursery has focused for over 35 years on the production of Southwestern native hardwood trees that are appropriate for urban landscaping in the Southwest, requiring less water than those tree species historically sold by the nursery trade.
From the beginning of his business career Michael remembered his father’s words about caring for the soil and as his knowledge of chemistry and soil science grew. He began to understand that fertilizers and many of the strong chemicals sold to farmers and to homeowners as lawn and garden chemicals were destructive to the health of soil, so Michael made a choice to never use or sell these products in his retail nursery.
Starting three decades ago Michael began developing products that could be used to grow his trees and support his customers efforts to improve the health of their soil, so his trees stood a better chance of success.
This led to the founding of a new company called Soil Secrets LLC a leading biotech soil science company.
The objective of Soil Secrets was to research and develop bio-mimicry products that could fix the ecology of soil which would then grow healthier landscapes and more productive crops, while also helping to use less water.
Michael’s slogan is “Maximum Green with Minimum Water”. Today Soil Secrets LLC is the industry’s leading Biomimetic Soil Ecology company and is used by large pecan growers in both the United States and Mexico, potato farms in Idaho and Montana, wine growers in Mexico and now hemp growers across the country. The molecular biology products of Soil Secrets are also specified in mine reclamation and used in the construction of LEED Certified landscapes.
During the process of developing the Biomimetic products offered now by Soil Secrets, Michael became the first person ever to unravel the mystery of Nature soil molecular carbon matrix and with this information he can replicate the molecules which are used to correct and balance the bio-geo- chemical process of a damaged soil.
The molecular characterization research was done with the help of Los Alamos National Labs and Sandia National Labs under the authority of a Commercial Proprietary Information Contract. He conducted Proof of Concept research with the Technology Transfer Programs of Los Alamos National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories and the New Mexico Consortium Labs, where he developed the tools to many of the soil problems found across the globe.
In addition to Michael’s Trees That Please Nursery business and his Soil Secrets business, he also planted and developed one of the largest tree species collection in the region called the Arboretum Tomé. The arboretum collection has many tree species of the world growing, one of the largest oak species collections, and a collection of over 200 heirloom apple tree varieties.