Transforming Agriculture, Perennially

Podcast from the Prairie

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Episode 1: Intellectual Grounding
Episode 2: Respecting Your Tools – Transcript

Episode 3: Mad About Science

Episode 4: Methodism to My Madness

Episode 5: Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man

Episode 6: Hogs Are Up: Stories of the Land, with Digressions

Episode 7: The Restless and Relentless Mind of Wes Jackson, as Explained by Robert Jensen


Podcast on the Prairie is a collaboration between The Land Institute, The New Perennials Project, and Perennial Films.

Wes Jackson rooted his vision for the future of agriculture and humanity with the co-founding of The Land Institute in 1976. Many of his ideas about perennial agriculture and living in harmony with our ecosphere are now being realized by researchers at The Land Institute and collaborating scientists globally. This podcast provides a deep and personal dive into the legacy of our friend, mentor and co-founder, Wes Jackson.

Wes tells stories to journalist Robert Jensen that take us from lessons learned growing up on a Kansas farm to the front lines of crucial debates about ecological crises and social struggles. Sparked by Jensen’s questions, Jackson reflects on science and history, technology and philosophy, ethics and politics.

Wes Jackson chats with Land Institute interns as they take their lunch break on the lawn of the Research Building. Jackson is co-founder and president emeritus of the institute.

The Creative Team

Wes Jackson examining Flowering Eastern Gamma Grass.

Wes Jackson is one of the founders of the sustainable agriculture movement. From working in the fields as a boy, he moved on to earn an MA in botany and a PhD in genetics before becoming a professor of biology at Kansas Wesleyan University. Then he moved to California State University, Sacramento, where he established and chaired one of the first Environmental Studies programs in the United States.

In 1976, he left academia to return to his home state to co-found The Land Institute, a nonprofit educational organization in Salina, Kansas. There, he conceptualized Natural Systems Agriculture—including perennial grains, perennial polycultures, and intercropping, all based on the model of the prairie. For 40 years under his presidency, The Land Institute experimented and expanded on his ideas. He stepped down to emeritus status in 2016, but never one to sit still, he continues to write and discuss his ideas with other thinkers of our day.

Robert Jensen makes a point at the 2017 Ecosphere Studies Workshop at TLI.

Robert Jensen, host of Podcast from the Prairie, is an emeritus professor in the School of Journalism at the University of Texas and a founding board member of the Third Coast Activist Resource Center in Austin. Jensen is collaborating with Wes on books that lay out the vision of a “creaturely worldview.” The first two – Jackson’s Hogs Are Up: Stories of the Land, with Digressions and Jensen’s The Restless and Relentless Mind of Wes Jackson: Searching for Sustainability – will be published in early 2021 by the University Press of Kansas.


Michael Johnson and Bob Sly

Michael Johnson and Bob Sly of Perennial Films produce Podcast from the Prairie. Marcelo Radulovich of Titicacaman Studios provides all audio production services and original music. Perennial Films is also developing a documentary film on Jackson’s worldview and ideas tentatively titled Prairie Prophecy: The Restless and Relentless Mind of Wes Jackson.




Funding for the podcast comes from TLI and The New Perennials Project (NPP), supported by the Rockefeller Family Fund. NPP’s goal is to change the way people think about large-scale food production and its ecological and social impacts. With a hub at Middlebury College in Vermont and directed by College Scholar in Residence Bill Vitek, professor emeritus of philosophy at Clarkson University, NPP builds on the work and ideas of Wes Jackson and The Land Institute.  The project emerged from the ongoing work of Ecosphere Studies at TLI and continues to closely collaborate with Director of Ecosphere Studies Aubrey Streit Krug to emphasize experiential learning and engagement with a wide variety of partners. Vitek has been a friend and collaborator of Wes on writing and educational projects for three decades.

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