Transforming Agriculture, Perennially


| Ecosphere Studies, Our Team

Wes Jackson Publishes New Book

Hogs Are Up: Stories of the Land, with Digressions

Pre-order through University Press of Kansas or Amazon.


Hogs Are Up: Stories of the Land, with Digressions reveals what makes Wes Jackson tick. What kind of lessons does he draw from his unique life experiences, and how do they shape his profoundly revolutionary worldview? Sometimes funny, sometimes wistful, always insightful, this volume demonstrates that when telling a good story, digressions can be the main point. Born during the Great Depression, Jackson tells stories of his youth on a diversified farm in the Kansas River Valley near Topeka, Kansas, culminating in more than forty years of leadership to radically transform agriculture, literally at its very roots. Wes Jackson draws deeply from the lessons learned from his experience dating from World War II to his work at The Land Institute to establish a new Natural Systems Agriculture. But this book is more than that. It includes an eclectic mix of thinkers and doers he’s met along the way.

Wes Jackson is heavily influenced by the cultural legacy of grandparents, all four of whom were born before the Civil War began, and from his parents, who were born before 1900. He was born into a culture of crop diversity where animals and people were out in the fields and around. He saw the tractor arrive and the horses leave. After you read Hogs Are Up: Stories of the Land, with Digressions you may share his misgivings about what conventional thinkers see as “progress.”

Jackson is constantly exploring the world around him and will engage anyone who can help him think about a discovery, an experiment, or recent insight. Jackson believes that our insights must go beyond the latest scholarly study and government report if we are to get the necessary interest for people to change. The stories and digressions he shares in Hogs Are Up are the fruit of a longtime effort to lay the agricultural and cultural foundation for a new worldview grounded in nature’s principles and located in rural communities able to survive through a new relationship of humanity to the ecosphere.

About the Author

Wes Jackson is cofounder and president emeritus of The Land Institute in Salina, Kansas, and the author of numerous articles and books, including most recently Nature as Measure: The Selected Essays of Wes Jackson and Consulting the Genius of the Place: An Ecological Approach to a New Agriculture.



Essays on people, farming, and the environment, all in the unmistakable voice of a Kansas original and one of the country’s foremost environmentalists. Pull up a chair, crack open this book, and soak up these stories. You’ll hear Wes in every word.
– Rex Buchanan, editor of Kansas Geology: An Introduction to Landscapes, Rocks, Minerals, and Fossils and coauthor of Petroglyphs of the Kansas Smoky Hills


This personal memoir comes from one of Kansas’s most remarkable and important sons–Wes Jackson, an original prairie visionary. It is rich in stories of growing up, failing, and succeeding–a funny, insightful, and vivid account of the changes we have been through since the Great Depression. Above all, learn here how a prophet of change emerged from a small family farm and went on to shake the agricultural establishment to its core.
Donald Worster, Hall Distinguished Professor of American History, Emeritus, University of Kansas


Hogs Are Up provides the reader with a savory buffet of Wes Jackson writing in the first-person: potato-picker, football player, handyman, student, professor, and, ultimately, one of the world’s most influential thinkers about the shared fates of humans and ecosystems. This is a book that spins yarns, observes closely, and reports on some significant developments in his life’s quest to marry ecology and agriculture.
Conn Nugent, former president, Heinz Center for Science, Economics and the Environment


Wes Jackson’s Hogs Are Up is a rich delight, abounding with stories that made me laugh, sigh, and share with the person sitting next to me. I had expected this iconic doer–a so-called turncoat to industrial farming and one who helped lead the way to an agriculture that respects and supports nature–to have much of interest to say about his life, but I didn’t expect that he would be such a fine and appreciative observer of the people around him. Jackson’s optimism for the promise of science and the efforts of humble people as well as his belief in ‘fierce egalitarianism’ and ‘reasonable restraint’ bolsters our courage for the challenges to come.
Kristin Ohlson, author of The Soil Will Save Us: How Scientists, Farmers, and Foodies Are Healing the Soil to Save the Planet


Hogs Are Up offers life stories from a rare sort of intellectual in our urbanized, specialized, class-tiered society–one who puts his hands to earth and hammer, considers poetry and science in the same thought, and conducts his work from the homeland he refuses to abandon. Wes Jackson’s wisdom will make you think, and his voice will make you smile.
Sarah Smarsh, author of Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth and She Come By It Natural: Dolly Parton and the Women Who Lived Her Songs

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