Archive for Sunday, September 20, 2015

Land Institute president steps down, but work continues

September 20, 2015

— The president of the Land Institute plans to step down from institution he founded 40 years ago, but the work continues on his vision to advance farming practices that work in partnership with nature.

Wes Jackson predicted that decades ago and indeed one of his most-quoted quips is that "If your life's work can be accomplished in your lifetime, you're not thinking big enough."

The Salina Journal reports that this coming June — when he turns 80 and the instituted he co-founded turns 40 — Jackson will bow out as president. Jackson and his wife at the time, Dana Jackson, founded the institute in June 1976.

The nonprofit organization touts itself as an alternative to current destructive agricultural practices, and says that its work is dedicated to advancing perennial grain crops and polyculture farming solutions. The Land Institute researches food production methods that sustain the land, and a big part of that vision is developing crops such as perennial wheat that does not have to be replanted each season like its annual counterparts.

It also eschews what it calls on its website the current destructive agriculture practices that take a short-term, high-yield approach dependent on heavy chemical applications and petroleum consumption — practices that are prone to the erosion and degradation of the land.

In a letter to friends, Jackson told them that while he is resigning as president he still plans to continue working with the Land Institute, writing and occasionally lecturing and helping with fundraising.

Jackson also told the newspaper that he's confident the institute will thrive after his retirement.

"We have a saying around here that continuity is more important than ingenuity," Jackson said.

He noted that in 2014, the Denver-based Malone Family Land Preservation Foundation pledged $1.5 million annually for the next 15 years toward research into perennial agriculture.

For decades, Jackson has worked to replace the current system of agriculture in which a single crop is planted in a given field, a practice he contends can't be sustainable in the long run.


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