The Mad Agriculture Journal

Published on

June 01, 2019

Written by

Philip Taylor

Photos by

Philip Taylor

We play with story in every dimension of Mad Agriculture. It permeates our work. One way we’re telling the new story is through trucker hats. Yes, trucker hats. The revolution has to be attractive and irresistible. Who doesn’t like a good trucker hat to represent the new agrarian philosophy and practice? 

The Perennial Hat is probably the coolest hat ever made.  This patch is a rendition of the central graph of a 50-Year Farm Bill that Wes Jackson, Wendell Berry, and Fred Kirschenmann took to Washington DC in 2009, which depicts the stepwise transition to perennial agroecosystems. 

As Wendell Berry writes, ‘This bill addresses the most urgent problems of our dominant way of agriculture: soil erosion, toxic pollution of soil and water, loss of biodiversity, the destruction of farming communities and cultures. It addresses these problems by invoking nature’s primary law, in default of which her other laws are of no avail: Keep the ground covered, and keep it covered whenever possible with perennial plants.

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At present, 80 percent of our farmable acreage is planted in annual crops, only 20 percent having the beneficent coverage of perennials. This, by the standard of any healthy ecosystem, is absurdly disproportionate. Annual plants are nature’s emergency medical service, seeded in sounds and scars to hold the land until the perennial cover is re-established. By this rule, our present agriculture, which gives 80 percent of our farmland to annuals, is in a state of emergency.

And so “A 50-Year Farm Bill” proposes a 50-year schedule by which the present ratio of 80 percent annual to 20 percent perennial would be exactly reversed. Nobody at present is talking about the possibility of breeding and raising perennial table vegetables, though they should.’ Except for the Land Institute, where a community of good folk are pushing the boundaries on perennial agriculture. Kernza is their first grain ramping into commercial production. Check out Patagonia Provisions Long Root Ale or Fair State Brewing Coop beers, or breads and goods at Moxie Bread, The Perennial, Birchwood Café, Ben Cuit, Cascadian Farms, and many more.

Tommie Williams of Dedicate Brand makes our hats. We’re stoked to be in the yoke on improving textile and fiber systems soil-to-soil. We’ve also begun sourcing canvas and denim from Huston Textiles, which is a Fibershed partner mill that is redefining the textiles market. Huston is a veteran-owned, family-operated textile mill weaving 100% American made selvage cloth on vintage looms using domestically grown, natural and regenerative fibers.

Originally published in
Mad Agriculture Journal Issue 1


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