Wes Jackson

Fellow, Sustainable Agriculture

Food & Agriculture

Wes Jackson is one of the foremost figures in the international sustainable agriculture movement. Founder and president of The Land Institute in Salina, Kansas, he has pioneered reserach in Natural Systems Agriculture — including perennial grains, perennial polycultures, and intercropping — for over 30 years. He was a professor of biology at Kansas Wesleyan and later established the Environmental Studies program at California State University, Sacramento, where he became a tenured full professor. He is the author of several books including Becoming Native to This Place (1994), Altars of Unhewn Stone (1987), and New Roots for Agriculture (1980).

The work of the Land Institute has been featured extensively in the popular media, including The Atlantic Monthly, Audubon, The MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour, and All Things Considered. Life magazine predicted Wes Jackson will be among the 100 "most important Americans of the 20th century." He is a recipient of the Pew Conservation Scholars award and a MacArthur Fellowship, and has been listed as one of Smithsonian's "35 Who Made a Difference". Wes has an M.A. in botany from University of Kansas, and a Ph.D. in genetics from North Carolina State University.


Agriculture in a Changing World

length: 29:26   credit: OnEarth Productions   Mar 03, 2014

"Agriculture is the oldest environmental problem," the Land Institute's Wes Jackson tells us early in this 27-minute video. Through interviews with 11 scientists, researchers and environmental experts, this short documentary considers that fate of agriculture and the environment in the age of agri-business and climate change.

Noam Chomsky, Bill McKibben, Tad Patzek , Wendell Berry, Mark Shepard and the rest of the cast explain that big agriculture's insatiable need for revenue not only afflicts the environment with toxic fertilizers, pesticides and carbon emissions, it degrades the state of agriculture itself by destroying the soil and subverting the natural evolution of animals, plants and insects. It is as unsustainable as it is unstoppable.

The local food movement and the resurgence of small farms provide a glimmer of hope on a gloomy horizon. "Last year was the first time in 150 years there were more farms and not fewer," McKibben says. Chomsky puts the dilemma in perspective when he says, "On the one hand you have highly concentrated capital supported by state power. On the other hand you have people trying to do things on their own. That's not just agriculture that's over the whole society."


Growing Home with Wendell Berry and Wes Jackson

length: 55:00   credit: Edible Radio   Mar 21, 2012

Wendell Berry, Wes JacksonGrowing Home host Marla Camp, publisher of Edible Austin moderated an on-stage conversation with Wendell Berry and Wes Jackson when they came to Austin in December of 2011 to lend their support to Edible Austin's annual fundraiser for two central Texas food nonprofits, Urban Roots and Sustainable Food Center. They shared their thoughts and wisdom with a sold out house—a show produced by Edible Austin with support from University of Texas professor Robert Jensen and the Paramount Theatre.

Latest Publications

A 50-Year Farm Bill

Wes Jackson    Jan 04, 2009   

[Excerpt] THE extraordinary rainstorms last June caused catastrophic soil erosion in the grain lands of Iowa, where there were gullies 200 feet wide. But even worse damage is done over the long term under normal rainfall … >>

The Serious Challenge of Our Time

Wes Jackson    May 31, 2013   

This is the text of Wes Jackson's Commencement Address at University of Kansas, from Sunday, May 19, 2013 Chancellor Gray-Little, faculty, fellow honorees, members of the board of regents. And now I come to the family … >>

FOOD: Tackling the Oldest Environmental Problem: Agriculture and Its Impact on Soil

Wes Jackson    Dec 13, 2010   

EXCERPT: Now there's the reality of climate change.  We've gone into overshoot and we are in economic trouble.  We look to more economic growth, but once economics and population growth absorb all of the … >>

The ENERGY Reader

Wes Jackson

What magic, or monster, lurks behind the light switch and the gas pump? Where does the seemingly limitless energy that fuels modern society come from? From oil spills, nuclear accidents, mountaintop removal coal mining, and … >>

press coverage

Jackson quoted at Food Tank

Wes Jackson  

Post Carbon Fellow Wes Jackson was quoted in this article on the future of agriculture. From the article: The United States currently loses 1.7 billion tons of topsoil a year. According to Wes Jackson, director of The Land … >>