Wes Jackson will step down as president of The Land Institute in June 2016. The year will mark his 80th birthday and the 40th anniversary of the science-based nonprofit organization dedicated to agricultural education, research, and policy development.
Jackson served as chair in an environmental studies program at California State University in Sacramento, then left academia to establish The Land Institute in 1976 with Dana Jackson. He has authored several books, including Consulting the Genius of the Place: An Ecological Approach to a New Agriculture and Nature as Measure: The Selected Essays of Wes Jackson.
A true visionary, Smithsonian Magazine has said that his mission is “the overthrow of agriculture as we know it” and he was included in the institution’s “35 Who Made a Difference” list in 2005. Jackson was also one of Life Magazine’s 18 people foreseen to be among the “100 most important Americans of the 20th century.” He’s a member of The World Future Council and the Green Lands, Blue Waters Steering Committee. In addition, Jackson is a MacArthur “genius” award recipient and a Pew Scholar.
The Land Institute is at the forefront of cutting-edge perennial research, advocating the use of annual plants in agriculture. The organization is committed to accelerating polyculture farming solutions and promotes growing food in tandem with nature, changing the modern agricultural practices that cause soil erosion and degradation. Polyculture is the farming practice of using multiple crops within the same space, promoting biodiversity by emulating natural ecosystems. The institute is currently working on an astonishing feat—developing a new variety of perennial wheat that continues to grow after grain harvest.
“Technological fundamentalism, fueled by the industrial mind, is now worse than any religious brand of fundamentalism,” Jackson told The Atlantic when asked what agricultural trend he wishes would become obsolete. “The industrial mind has increasingly dominated during the last 250 years and is largely a product of the fossil fuel interlude. Eventually it will give way to an ecological worldview, the sooner the better.”