While at the Prairie Festival today, I realized that the terms “taking care of the land” and “maintaining tilth” from the time of Louis Bromfield’s books to Wes Jackson’s beginning of the Land Institute somehow came to be a holistic means of giving attention and appreciation to the primacy of intact rich living soil in a food-producing landscape. During those early years, we had virtually no vocabulary for describing the diverse soil microbiome, but we could feel the difference in texture and taste or smell the fecundity of rich organics in a healthy soil.
On faith in the wisdom of the land, Wes Jackson began investing in a kind of perennial agriculture that not only mimicked the long term productivity and resilience of tall grass prairies, but is analogous to the ancient perennial polycultures of tropical “huertos familiares,” a tradition of agroforestry that keeps soils intact under the canopies of as many as 40 to 70 useful tree species per hectare.
It also conserves the soils, birds and mammals associated with that larger landscape. One polyculture works in the prairie biome, the other in the tropical rainforest biome, but both “meet the expectations of the land” by farmers humble enough to “consult the genius of their home place.”
Brother Coyote, OEF
OUR GRATITUDE TO WES JACKSON FOR CONCEIVING, INSPIRING AND ACQUIRING SUPPORT FOR 40 YEARS OF VISIONARY WORK ON HERBACEOUS PERENNIAL POLYCULTURES IN SALINA KANSAS!