Winter Conference

Friday Keynote: Wes Jackson, The Land Institute 

Wes Jackson, President of The Land Institute, was born in 1936 on a farm near Topeka, Kansas. After attending Kansas Wesleyan (B.A Biology, 1958), he studied botany (M.A. University of Kansas, 1960) and genetics (Ph.D. North Carolina State University, 1967). He was a professor of biology at Kansas Wesleyan and later established the Environmental Studies department at California State University, Sacramento, where he became a tenured full professor. He resigned that position in 1976 and returned to Kansas to found The Land Institute.

Dr. Jackson’s writings include both papers and books. His most recent works, Nature as Measure (2011) and Consulting the Genius of the Place: An Ecological Approach to a New Agriculture (2010), were both published by Counterpoint Press. The Virtues of Ignorance: Complexity, Sustainability, and the Limits of Knowledge (2008) and Rooted in the Land: Essays on Community and Place (1996), were co-edited with William Vitek. Becoming Native to This Place, 1994, sketches his vision for the resettlement of America's rural communities. Altars of Unhewn Stone appeared in 1987 and Meeting the Expectations of the Land, edited with Wendell Berry and Bruce Colman, was published in 1984. New Roots for Agriculture, 1980, outlines the basis for the agricultural research at The Land Institute.

The work of The Land Institute has been featured extensively in the popular media including The Atlantic Monthly, Audubon, National Geographic, Time Magazine, Yes! Magazine, The MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour, and National Public Radio's "All Things Considered." Life magazine named Wes Jackson as one of 18 individuals they predict will be among the 100 "important Americans of the 20th century." In the November 2005 issue, Smithsonian named him one of “35 Who Made a Difference.” He was included in Rolling Stone’s “100 Agents of Change” in March, 2009 and in Ingram’s “50 Kansans You Should Know” in January 2011.

Wes Jackson is a recipient of the Pew Conservation Scholars award (1990), a MacArthur Fellowship (1992), Right Livelihood Award (Stockholm), known as “Alternative Nobel Prize” (2000), and the Louis Bromfield Award (2010). He has received five honorary doctorates. In 2007 he received the University of Kansas Distinguished Service Award and was one of the 2011 recipients of the University of Kansas College of Liberal Arts & Sciences’ Distinguished Alumni Awards. Garden Club of America awarded him the Elizabeth Craig Weaver Proctor Medal in 2012.

In addition to lecturing nationwide and abroad, Dr. Jackson is involved outside The Land Institute with a variety of projects including being a Post Carbon Institute Fellow.

Farmers of the Year, Saturday Keynote: Klaas & Mary-Howell Martens, Lakeview Organic Grain

Mary-Howell and Klaas Martens farm 1400 acres of organic corn, soybeans, small grains (wheat, spelt, barley, oats, triticale, heritage grains), dark red kidney beans, and edamame soybeans. They have been farming organically since 1993. Additionally, they own and operate Lakeview Organic Grain, an organic feed and seed business serving the needs of Northeast organic farmers.  Mary-Howell and Klaas raise organic cows, pigs, chickens, and most importantly, 3 children – Peter, Elizabeth and Daniel. Peter works with them on the farm and is starting his own organic grain farm, Elizabeth recently graduated from Cornell and is working in agricultural development in Peace Corps in Panama, and Daniel is pursuing a culinary/baking degree at Johnson and Wales University.