The International Initiative is part of The Land Institute’s work to ignite a movement to advance just and diverse perennial grain agriculture globally with the worldwide community of perennial grain researchers and advocates.
What Is the International Initiative?
The Land Institute has been deeply rooted in North America’s central Great Plains for over forty years. And over the last decade, scientific interest in developing and testing perennial grain cultivars has grown exponentially and internationally. Today, The Land Institute facilitates collaborations with more than 50 researchers on six continents and is now launching an initiative to formalize and scale the international movement toward a perennial future.
The Land Institute’s scientists have a remarkable history of providing foundational knowledge in perennial grain development in collaboration with international colleagues on six continents.
With this new initiative, The Land Institute will bring together a global network to build a movement that scales the research needed to develop perennial grain crops that are ecologically adapted, culturally valued, and economically viable at local and regional scales.
Together with a network of collaborators, the International Initiative will:
- Build the infrastructure – staffing, capacity, and technology – to facilitate collaboration across the international research network.
- Grow the network to ensure a diverse and resilient effort is underway.
- Help expand existing hubs of activity and create new ones in relevant geographies.
Successful agricultural research requires creativity and dedication, but also numbers and range. The number of researchers and practitioners, their human cultural and geographic diversity, field research sites, research locations, and the amount and distribution of financial resources dedicated to perennial grain crops around the globe will determine how quickly and equitably we can scale perennial grain crops and the farming techniques to grow them.
The impact of the pandemic, current political instability worldwide, and the vast threat of climate change all emphasize the need to build resilience. In addition, an expanded global research network can increase the pool of available resources and decentralize the work so that a significant disruption in any locality is unlikely to jeopardize the overall research effort.
The International Initiative’s strategy is to create international hubs of perennial grain research and connective infrastructure to support and sustain them. Participants will share innovations, knowledge, and resources around the world.
Global collaboration will be grounded in localized learning. Places have long histories and ongoing stories of human relationships with diverse, perennial plants, crops, and ecosystems. Regional hubs may respectfully revitalize local knowledge and communities through integrative, participatory research processes.
Low-input perennial grain agriculture could help communities as they learn to persist through crisis and remake their local and regional food systems to achieve perennial food security within ecological limits.
The Land Institute’s International Initiative will collaboratively organize research partners and priorities to scale the global movement. In addition, the International Initiative will support the continued formation of interdisciplinary networks or clusters of researchers who might be concentrated in particular geographic areas or working on a single species or challenge together across continents.
The success of this international initiative will be made possible by the active participation of partners to identify priorities and lead specific efforts or projects.
In particular, the International Initiative network will advance diverse, perennial agriculture through:
- New perennial grain crop development
- Ecological intensification of perennial grain cropping systems
- Socioeconomic transition and cultural transformation for a perennial future
The International Initiative will engage with institutions working to advance the development of perennial grain agriculture in plant breeding, cropping systems, agroecology, social science, and transdisciplinary research to collaborate in the design process and launch of the initiative. In addition, we expect representatives from these organizations to serve on a future International Initiative steering committee.
These institutional partners include:
Initiative Launch and Timeline
The Land Institute began the planning phase of the initiative in the fall of 2020. During the fall, a survey of nearly 100 researchers provided preliminary direction on how the initiative can best serve the international scientific community.
The Land Institute announced Tim Crew, Chief Scientist, as Director of the International Initiative in December of 2021. He is tasked with forming and facilitating a steering committee of international collaborators who will help prioritize the initiative activities over the coming year.
In December 2020, the Food Planet Prize was awarded to The Land Institute by The Curt Bergfors Foundations. This $1 million prize provides anchor funding to launch the International Initiative. Stay tuned for more information about what will be required to realize a global movement’s vision. Join us by supporting this work with a donation to The Land Institute.