History & Timeline

If your life's work can be accomplished in your lifetime, you're not thinking big enough.” – Wes Jackson, co-founder, The Land Institute

Ours is a history rooted in a simple idea: Using nature as model for agriculture makes possible, for the first time in human history, the sustainable production of food. This means perennial grains grown in mixtures, thus creating ecosystems that reflect the resilience and productivity of prairies. This promises an end to soil erosion, weaning from chemical inputs, restoration of soil health, curtailing of carbon emissions and greater food security.

The journey since 1976 has been one of imagination and discovery, punctuated by both chastening and reward. And it's not over yet.

Take a quick journey along The Land Institute timeline from 1976 to see where we’ve been and how we’re progressing. Be sure to check back from time to time.

  • April 3, 2014: New Website Launched

    After months of planning and programming, the new LandInstitute.org is launched. Read more

  • October 1, 2010: Research Building

    The Research Building and remodeled greenhouse are opened. Read more

  • October 1, 2009: Research Building start

    Construction begins on a new Research Building. Read more

  • May 1, 2009: 50-Year Farm Bill

    To address diminishing agricultural potential with a new vision, The Land Institute sponsors 10 meetings coast-to-coast with farmers and representatives of sustainable agriculture organizations, and... Read more

  • January 1, 2009: Kernza™ is Trademarked

    The Land Institute applies for a trademark for Kernza™: "Processed grains of Thinopyrum Intermedium (intermediate wheatgrass), and products containing or derived from this grain, namely, flour."... Read more

  • January 1, 2007: Climate and Energy Project

    The Land Institute launches the Climate and Energy Project. Read more

  • May 1, 2001: Prairie Writers Circle

    In an effort to increase the public’s understanding of topics related to farming, farm policy, energy, and rural community and economics, we launch the Prairie Writers Circle – a syndicated op-ed... Read more

  • December 1, 2000: The Right Livelihood Award

    Wes Jackson in Stockholm receives the “alternative Nobel Prize” – the Right Livelihood Award – for his “single-minded commitment to developing an agriculture that is both highly productive and truly... Read more

  • November 1, 1999: LandInstitute.org

    Our website – LandInstitute.org – makes its online debut. Read more

  • June 1, 1992: Wes Jackson’s MacArthur Fellowship

    The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation recognizes Wes Jackson with a MacArthur Fellowship for “exceptional merit and promise” related to his work at The Land Institute. Read more

  • June 1, 1991: Rural Community Studies Program

    We launch the Rural Community Studies Program, which uses ecology as the organizing principle for human community. Read more

  • April 1, 1991: Sunshine Farm Research Project

    The Sunshine Farm Research Project – a 10-year project to collect comprehensive data on the energy, materials, and labor going into 50 acres of conventional crops plus 160 acres of prairie pasture... Read more

  • January 1, 1990: Pew Scholars Awarded

    Co-founders Wes Jackson and Dana Jackson are named Pew Scholars in Conservation and the Environment. Read more

  • October 1, 1987: Green House Construction Begins

    Construction begins on a greenhouse, which is dedicated in March 1988. Read more

  • July 1, 1987: Sunshine Farm Purchase

    Property we call the Sunshine Farm, now a site of plant breeding experiments, is purchased. Read more

  • April 1, 1987: Atmospheric Carbon Warning Issued

    In the Land Report, an article by Jon Piper tells of the ecological and agricultural effects of increasing atmospheric carbon. Read more

  • October 1, 1986: Major Land Purchase

    A neighboring farmhouse and 9 acres were purchased and became the headquarters of The Land Institute. Read more

  • October 1, 1985: Wauhob Prairie Purchase

    A 50-year lease with an option to buy 8 acres of unplowed prairie is acquired. The land, now known as the Wauhob Prairie that overlooks Land breeding plots, was purchased in 1997. Read more

  • August 1, 1984: The Big Barn is Built

    The Big Barn, now the home of the Prairie Festival, is built at a cost of $3,000. Read more

  • June 1, 1984: TLI First Reports on Greenhouse Effect

    An item in the Land Report notes the effect of "increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide (the so-called greenhouse effect)” on plants. Read more