Vision & Mission
Natural ecological systems are self-sustaining. For at least 10,000 years, humans have disrupted those systems and kept them in a continuous state of disruption in order to feed our populations and avoid famine. This, in a nutshell, is agriculture as we know it. Increasingly, the modern scale of those agricultural disruptions threatens to collapse the critical cultural and natural systems upon which we depend.
The Land Institute believes that it doesn’t have to be this way.
The Land Institute and our partners are not working to tweak the now predominant industrial, disruptive system of agriculture. We are working to displace it. We believe it is possible to provide staple foods without destroying or compromising the cultural and ecological systems upon which we depend, but only if we understand and work with the constraints and capacities of those natural systems.
It took 10,000 years for humans to become reliant upon an industrial agriculture built upon annual crop monocultures. In the past forty years, The Land Institute and our partners have been breeding new perennial grain and seed crops and researching ecologically intensified polycultures that mimic natural systems.
In the next forty years, we intend to develop an agricultural system featuring perennials with the ecological stability of the prairie and a grain and seed yield comparable to that from annual crops. Through such a system, we can produce ample human food and reduce or eliminate impacts from the disruptions and dependencies of industrial agriculture.
Already, important questions have been answered and crucial principles explored. We’ve now demonstrated the scientific feasibility of our proposal for a Natural Systems Agriculture. Because our work deals with basic biological questions and principles, the implications are applicable worldwide.
When Natural Systems Agriculture is fully developed and implemented, we will see farmers and scientists around the world working together with nature to sustain and even rebuild soil, communities, and economies.
When people, land, and community are as one, all three members prosper; when they relate not as members but as competing interests, all three are exploited. By consulting Nature as the source and measure of that membership, The Land Institute seeks to develop an agriculture that will save soil from being lost or poisoned, while promoting a community life at once prosperous and enduring.
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