Transforming Agriculture, Perennially

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Our Turn At This Earth: The Ones We’ve Been Waiting For

Publication: HPPR

Author: Julene Bair

“Are We the Ones We’ve Been Waiting For?” This was the title of Wes Jackson’s speech at last year’s Prairie Festival, an event held each September at the Land Institute near Salina, Kansas. The question implies that we need to be saved. The irony is that we do — from ourselves.

Wes Jackson is a Kansas native who, like so many native sons and daughters, went away, got educated, and launched a successful career elsewhere. But Wes soon left that career to return to Kansas. Many, especially those who grew up on farms like Wes did, are called back to the land at some point.

But few, if any, have ever drawn so deeply and ambitiously on what the land can teach us. With his doctoral education in plant genetics, he fashioned a new model of agriculture that seeks to mimic nature. The goal is nothing less than to feed the world with perennial grains grown together in much the same way plants interact in prairie ecosystems.

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