Transforming Agriculture, Perennially

Scientific Publications


A Social Perennial Vision: Transdisciplinary Inquiry for the Future of Diverse, Perennial Grain Agriculture

Author: Aubrey Streit Krug, Omar Imseeh Tesdell

Publication: New Phytologist Foundation

Societal Impact Statement

Plant scientists around the planet are working to develop new perennial grains and learn how to grow them in diverse agroecosystems. Perennial grain agriculture could accomplish long‐term sustainability by providing food for humans without degrading the ecosystem processes on which food productivity depends. However, more research is needed to understand how to pursue perennial grain food system transformation that builds justice within diverse human societies. We use a case study from Palestine to explore why this research should encompass many academic disciplines and go beyond them to engage communities. By paying attention to deeper agricultural systems of relationship that shape change, researchers may better develop and integrate the knowledge necessary to help realize a “social perennial vision.”


  • Research across plant science domains is foundational to the development of novel grain agroecosystems that feature perenniality and diversity. Because agriculture is social as well as biophysical, research is also needed to address how to make just and fair human community arrangements and socioeconomic relationships within diverse, perennial grain agroecosystems.
  • As a first step, we draw on agroecology as well as critical concepts from the social sciences and humanities in order to identify dominant systems of relationship in agriculture, recognize their past and present impacts in the ecosphere, and envision alternatives. To ground our analysis, we use a case study of a research group in Palestine that engages communities in co‐producing plant knowledge.
  • Our social perennial vision recognizes the effort required by human communities to find ways to endure in agricultural landscapes. Alternative systems of relationship are both necessary and possible to build diverse, perennial grain agroecosystems. The scientific and social knowledge required for positive agricultural transformation may be gained through more integrated research efforts.
  • The social perennial vision that we characterize affirms the importance of transdisciplinary inquiry for the development of diverse, perennial grain agriculture. We highlight the ethical and practical values of participatory approaches and accessible tools for future research.

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