If you want to learn about innovations in agriculture and taste the world’s first perennial grain, make a trek to Salina, KS for the annual three-day Prairie Festival at The Land Institute.
Wendell Berry, David Orr and Wes Jackson are the featured speakers at the 40th anniversary celebration of The Land Institute on Sept. 23-25. Other highlights include farm tours, nature walks, a barn dance and piano-cello concert.
The Land Institute was founded by Jackson in 1976 as a science-based research organization designed to develop perennial grain crops and sustainable agricultural practices. The institute’s first trademarked grain, kernza, will be served in bread at the festival.
Jackson, whose work is inspired by the native prairie ecosystem as a model for a sustainable food system, is retiring this year. The new president, Fred Iutzi, will be introduced at the festival. Jackson is a Pew Scholar and MacArthur Fellow. He has authored several books, including Man and the Environment, New Roots for Agriculture, Meeting the Expectations of the Land, and Becoming Native to This Place.
Berry, Orr and Jackson will speak on Sunday. Berry, a prolific author, poet, farmer and environmental activist, is known for his many publications, including Organic Gardening and Farming, The New Farm and A Place on Earth. Orr is an environmental studies professor and assistant to the president at Oberlin College in Oberlin, OH. He is known for his work in developing a joint venture with the city and college to create a sustainable and environmentally friendly community in Oberlin. He has authored several books, including Ecological Literacy and Earth in Mind.
The three-day Prairie Festival includes a traditional barn dance and bonfire, speakers on sustainability and agricultural issues, tours, nature walks, yoga, music, and a presentation by Jackson. Saturday night, Peter Buffett will perform a cello-piano concert at the Stiefel Theatre in downtown Salina as a fundraiser for The Land Institute. After the performance, Buffett will sign copies of his recent released New York Times best-selling book, Life is what you make it.
Festival tickets are $30 per adult; $10 for college students; and free for children 18 and younger. Meal options and primitive camping will be available. For more information on tickets, visit The Land Institute. Tickets for the Buffett concert are $20, $35 and $50 and can be purchased at the Stiefel Theatre. The Land Institute is located at 2440 E. Water Well Road, Salina, KS.
Photo: Scott Seirer