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Perennial Crops Offer Model for Sustainable Food Production

The perennial grain kernza, developed by Wes Jackson at the Land Institute, is an example of a new model for agriculture that’s featured in Yale Environment 360. After 40 years of development, kernza is in commercial production, though still on a small scale as researchers continue to work to improve the plant’s yield. The perennial grain is just part of a conceived food-production model that incorporates a self-sustaining perennial polyculture of diverse edible plants, including lupine to fix nitrogen, several perennial grains, and sunflowers grown for oil. A similar approach in agroforestry is based on a complex, multi-layered edible forest agro-ecosystem that combines canopy trees, fruit trees, bushes, herbs, root vegetables, and vines with livestock.