How do we grow more just human cultures that sustain and are sustained by diverse, perennial grain agroecosystems?
The Perennial Cultures Lab investigates the connection between cultural and agricultural change. We develop the research methods, patterns of relationship, and learning communities needed to realize more just perennial cultures of grain agriculture.
Why Perennial Cultures?
- Perennial cultures are ways of life that adapt and persist within the context of particular places and the ecosphere. These cultures feature systems of meaning, norms, and behaviors that are shaped by sun-powered, diverse, perennial agroecosystems. Perennial cultures value and care for perennial grains.
- Diverse, perennial grain agroecosystems can provide ecological, economic, and energetic infrastructure for human communities. But while an agriculture that provides food along with sustaining ecosystem processes may make more just cultural systems possible, it does not guarantee them.
- More just perennial cultures could repair relationships between people who depend on each other. They could value the creative learning that is possible when people have the opportunity to help shape their lives and collective future. They could and seek to provide enough for all and to leave no one behind.
- The growing network of researchers and communities developing and stewarding diverse, perennial grain agroecosystems may help shape if and how more just perennial cultures emerge.
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- We apply critical concepts and qualitative approaches from across the arts, humanities, social sciences, and interdisciplinary fields like ethnobotany and geography. And we work with communities themselves. Together, we study stories of human relationships with other humans, emerging perennial grain crops, and landscapes.
- We do this to understand cultural impacts, barriers, and opportunities and to increase social legitimacy for more just, diverse, and perennial grain agricultures.
- We use knowledge and questions from educational research, land- and place-based pedagogy, and theories and traditions of learning to design and evaluate community learning opportunities that feature diverse, perennial grain ag and culture and emphasize accessibility and inclusion.
- We do this to grow the movement of people learning with each other and with perennial grains across cultures, geographies, and generations.
- We test, innovate, and openly share transdisciplinary research methods like civic science to help advance the intercultural development of diverse, perennial grain agroecosystems in ways that are just, caring, and ethical.
- We do this to help researchers and communities collaboratively develop a global network of local and regional hubs that create a perennial future.
In 2015, Wes Jackson and Bill Vitek convened a conference about how the invention of perennial grain crops grown in mixtures creates the possibility for new ways of thinking and making a living within the ecosphere. From then through 2022, The Land Institute’s Ecosphere Studies program, led by Aubrey Streit Krug, designed events and experiments to bring together researchers, teachers, students, and community members to co-produce and test ecospheric approaches to learning. In 2023, to better integrate and structure the insights gained so far through this learning process, Ecosphere Studies evolved into the Perennial Cultures Lab and the Ecosphere Fellows program.
In the near term, we are working to:
- Build and share knowledge about past and present human relationships to the plant species that will yield perennial grains
- Test and apply approaches to understand if and how people change and learn as they interact with each other to develop diverse, perennial grain agroecosystems
- Initiate and deepen intercultural land relations beginning in our home hub, grounded in the Central Great Plains
- Design and evaluate educational practices, materials, and research methods like civic science that broaden and sustain our lab’s culture of learning and The Land Institute’s organizational learning culture
- Colorado State University, CitSci.org at the Natural Resources Ecology Lab and many civic scientists
- Grassland 2.0, including University of Wisconsin-Madison and additional institutions
- Kernza®CAP, including University of Minnesota, Green Lands Blue Waters, University of Wisconsin, and additional institutions, and collaborating high school and college and university teachers and graduate students
- New Perennials at Middlebury College
- New Roots for Restoration Biology Integration Institute, including Chicago Botanic Garden, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Missouri Botanical Garden, Saint Louis Science Center, Saint Louis University, University of Kansas, University of Missouri, and University of Vermont
- University of Kansas, Environmental Studies Program and Indigenous Studies Program
- University of Minnesota, Forever Green Initiative and Forever Green Partnership
- Makaneyyat research collective, Palestine
- NORCE Norwegian Research Centre, Norway
Aubrey Streit Krug presents a series of six experiential learning videos, called Perennial Practice, which introduce The Land Institute’s work, invite us to observe the world more closely, and help us reflect on our outlook and choices.
The Land Institute’s staff and collaborators share foundational knowledge and perennial inquiry in an open-access educational collection. The Perennial Turn: Contemporary Essays from the Field, edited by Bill Vitek, includes a dozen essays by scholars, activists, and artists including Wes Jackson, Aubrey Streit Krug, Stan Cox, Terry Evans, and Rena Detrixhe, who focus on the interaction between people, societies, and the larger living world.
The Land Institute’s Director of Ecosphere Studies, Aubrey Streit Krug, invites you to join her…
“Updates on Progress Toward a Perennial Future” was a presentation by The Land Institute’s Dr….
A social perennial vision for the North American Great Plains rooted in the resilience of a natural system-inspired agriculture
In the 2022 book Creating Resilient Landscapes in an Era of Climate Change, a shift to natural systems agriculture, which…
A Social Perennial Vision: Transdisciplinary Inquiry for the Future of Diverse, Perennial Grain Agriculture
Societal Impact Statement Plant scientists around the planet are working to develop new perennial grains…