Transforming Agriculture, Perennially


Kelsey Peterson

Intern; Oilseeds Technician

Originally from Plano, Texas, Kelsey Peterson has lived in Kansas for five years and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology with emphasis on environmental science from Bethel College. Kelsey came to The Land Institute on the recommendation of former staff member Jon Piper. After interning, Peterson joined David Van Tassel and others on the perennial oilseed project and is now pursuing a doctorate in silphium research.



What’s been most inspiring about your time at The Land?
I think it’s the fact that everyone at every level of this organization cares deeply about what they do and why they are here. It doesn’t matter if it’s weeding a field in the August heat for four hours or weighing seeds in the lab – there’s this understanding from researchers to interns that this is essential work for progress in sustainable agriculture. Domestication of new crops takes a lot of work and time, but there’s no lack of dedication.

What would people never guess that you’ve done as part of your role?
I had to pick up stickers to place on bags at the store for an experiment. I asked David which stickers he thought I should get and he responded: “Be the bee. Whatever yellow you find yourself attracted to in the store – grab those.” I walked down aisles of two stores looking for the perfect yellow.

What perennial crop do you look forward to eating most, and how would you prepare it?|
I eat Silphium in the field all the time – it tastes like kale (but I do not recommend). Actually, I do want a jar of Silphium oil to cook with. I would probably start by sautéing vegetables in a little oil and make stir fry.

Where is your favorite spot or place at The Land Institute?
In the middle of a Silphium field at 9 am in the summer. All the pollinators come out and you can see thousands of bees of all kinds begin to visit each flower and listen to this constant roar of buzzing. It sounds like a horror movie to some people, but the bees only care about the flowers and will leave you alone. It’s like being in a city made of flowers and leaves, and you get to watch the work of these pollinators as they load up with pollen and nectar each morning.

What’s your motto / favorite quote?
“Nothing worth doing is ever easy.”

Support the work of Kelsey and others at The Land Institute with a donation.


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