Bill Vitek, Professor of Philosophy, Clarkson University.
The invention of agriculture 10,000 years ago was an unprecedented energy bonanza, extracting soil carbon via annual grains. But it required the sweat of the brow to fight thistles and thorns, and a divided view of the world where nature is subdued or ignored and re-labeled as mostly weeds and pests. Large, complex cultures soon followed, and annual grains fed generations of thinkers and rulers who created cultural and social systems of human-centered superiority and dominance. We still live with this agricultural mind, surrounded still by an annual agriculture that must begin every growing season with bare and increasingly barren soils; a sea of brown in an otherwise luscious palette of greens. The “ten thousand year problem of agriculture” is how Wes Jackson describes it. He and his colleagues at The Land Institute in Salina, Kansa have worked for forty years to develop a natural systems agriculture of perennial polycultures that mimic grassland ecosystems. The results are coming in, and the news is good. Jackson is now at work with a team of educators on what he calls Ecosphere Studies and the development of a Perennial Education Network. Perennial food and thought are required for any transformation that has a chance at succeeding. This talk will provide an update of the work to date.