Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

Salina, Kansas, may seem an unlikely Mecca for environmental activists, but it is thanks to the Land Institute.

The Land Institute started with the bold idea that for farming to work long-term, farmers have to reverse a fundamental mistake they made 10,000 years ago when they started growing crops that have to be planted annually.

Now, after four decades developing alternative ways of raising grain, the leader and funder of the Land Institute, Wes Jackson, is stepping down – just as the scientific research going on there is ramping up.

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

With his silvery hair, his sun-and-wind-weathered skin, formidable stature and a booming, resonant voice, Wes Jackson steps out of his pickup truck in a blazer, radiating confidence. But 40 years ago, when he'd just given up a tenured professorship in California to set up shop in rural Kansas with the goal of transforming not just agriculture but the way humans live, he was appropriately daunted by the scale of his own ambition.

"I did it with a lot of doubt," he says with a laugh. "Especially in the middle of the night."

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

Meet a prominent thinker who's a Kansas farm boy and "prairiebilly" turned geneticist, and hear the story of how and why he became a leader in the sustainable agriculture movement back in the 1970s. Jackson is retiring as president of the organization he started: The Land Institute in Salina, Kansas. 


Andy Marso / Heartland Health Monitor

The rows of grapevines at Somerset Ridge Vineyard and Winery near Paola, Kansas, are withering, with dying leaves and shriveling fruit.

But that’s expected this time of year.

The prospect of it happening in the middle of the growing season concerns owner Dennis Reynolds more. Grapes are a sensitive crop, especially when it comes to herbicides that may drift over from neighboring farms or ditches.

The national death industry has seen a shift toward green options when it comes to laying a loved one to rest. And this is the first year that the number of cremations has surpassed the number of burials nationwide. Is Kansas City adopting new trends? And if not, why not?


What Kansas Citians Think About Earth Day In 2015

Apr 22, 2015
Christina Lieffring

Earth Day, founded in 1970 by the fledgling environmentalism movement, is Wednesday. At its inception, the movement aimed to bring attention to issues of pollution, waste and the depletion of natural resources.

Now, 45 years later, our nation is in an ongoing conversation about climate change and conservation, but for many Earth Day comes and goes with little notice. In the Kansas City area, we asked people if they knew Earth Day was this week, and asked them if they were planning on recognizing the holiday.

Here is a sampling of their responses:

Photo by Kartaka Shiva, courtesy Cultivate KC

Dr. Vandana Shiva sees issues of diversity playing out in our societies as well as in our grocery stores and on our dinner plates. Central Standard visits with this prolific author and global environmental activist about her unique blend of science and philosophy in which feminism, economic theory, quantum physics and agricultural history combine to create a compelling world view.

Dr. Shiva stops by the studio to explain her perspective and to tell her personal story. 

Building A Sustainable Community

Oct 10, 2012
Bridging the Gap

It's a lesson in energy conservation and resource sustainability for anyone and everyone.

First up on Wednesday’s Central Standard, we'll discuss some local efforts to help the environment. Plus, hear some tips and tricks for incorporating green habits into our daily lives.

wackybadger / Flickr

Once upon a time, among the iconic scenes of the West were mountains covered with green, fragrant pine trees.  Nowadays, you’re more likely to see entire forests of  brown.   That’s because since 1997 more than 41.7 million acres have suffered partial or total death of conifer trees.