40 Years of The Land Institute

The 40th anniversary of The Land Institute will be celebrated at the organization’s annual Prairie Festival, set for Sept. 23-25 at the main campus at 2440 E. Water Well Road.

The festival will include a look at the institute’s history and role in shaping a global movement toward sustainable agriculture.

Highlights of the festival include noted author and environmental activist Wendell Berry, who will deliver the Strachan Donnelley Lecture on Conservation and Restoration, and a concert by Peter Buffett, a pianist and composer who mixes music with conversation about people working together for positive social change. The Sept. 24 concert, which will also include a reading by Berry, will be at the historic Stiefel Theatre in downtown Salina. Tickets, priced at $20 to $50, are available from the Stiefel Theatre.

The festival program includes past and present board chairs discussing the core ideas of The Land Institute; a panel of former institute interns, post-docs and fellows talking about their experiences; a discussion of new efforts to reshape the education curriculum to include an understanding of the ecosphere; and reports from institute scientists on their work to develop a sustainable agriculture based on perennial crops. Also on the program are field tours of breeding plots, an open house of research facilities, a “Family Album” Art Gallery exhibit of photographs depicting the organization’s history, a “Time Capsule” posting station where people can share institute mementos, and a barn dance, yoga session, and guided walks to see native prairie plants.

The festival will conclude with talks by Wes Jackson and Fred Iutzi. Iutzi will succeed Wes Jackson as president on Oct. 1. Jackson co-founded the institute in 1976. Although he is stepping down as president, Jackson will continue to work in support of the institute and environmental issues. Iutzi, a former fellow at the institute who most recently headed agriculture, energy and cooperative development programs for the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs at Western Illinois University, will talk about the institute’s future.

The registration cost for the weekend activities is $40, or $30 for members of Friends of the Land. The student rate is $10. Youths 18 and under are admitted free.

For registration forms, schedule and other information, see www.landinstitute.org, or call The Land Institute at 785-823-5376.

The private, nonprofit Land Institute is developing perennial grain plants to cut soil loss, water waste, chemical pollution and farmers’ dependence on industrial supplies.

Story from Scott Seirer / The Land Institute