I am proposing an invitation to bicycle riders to join me in a Grassroutes Caravan ride to the Prairie Festival at The Land Institute in Salina, Kansas, this coming September. I am being accompanied by Chandra Prasad Adhikari, from the lowlands of southern Nepal. A permaculture farmer for 23 years, he is one of the founders of Nepal's organic movement. He has been organizing the country's small farmers in struggle against corporate agriculture and for a sustainable future.
The ride will start in Madison, Wisconsin, and tour through permaculture and other organic farms and activities related to sustainable farming in the Midwest between Madison and Salina, Kansas. It will be a ride of discovery of sustainable farming initiatives throughout the region.
The ride will emphasize intensive learning and sharing with farmers and people working on sustainable farming initiatives. I envision that there will be the singing and theater characterizing other rides that address the issues of agricultural industrialization and creating a sustainable agrarian future. For students, I am hoping that academic credit can be arranged with certain colleges in agroecological and agricultural-anthropological study.
Making its way across four states, this ride will be longer than the usual Grassroutes Caravans. Taking part in the entire ride will require a certain level of commitment, focus of interest and bicycle skill, although each day's ride will be kept to reasonable length. It will differ also in that it will be a serious study tour dealing with a range of topics and issues around a perennial future in addition to other aspects of previous caravans. For those who will not have time for the entire ride you can throw your bike in a box and join or leave it at Amtrak or bus stops along the way. I'm planning on breaking it into thematic segments for those wish to take part in only one part of the ride. In the approach into Salina it may converge with similar caravans. There are Amtrak stations about 50 miles north and south of Salina as well, and also in Kansas City KS and MO.
If you are unfamiliar with The Land Institute, it was founded by Wes Jackson, one of the four pillars of natural farming and permaculture along with Masanobu Fukuoka, Bill Mollison and Bhaskar Save. Its mission is to domesticate wild perennial forms of the world's annual food crops and create an ecologically based truly permanent agriculture situated within sustainable communities. Thousands of people from all walks of life -- farmers, professors and their students, philosophers and theologians, musicians and story tellers, the old and the young -- gather each year at the end of September in Salina Kansas at the Land Institute's Prairie Festival for what they affectionately call an "intellectual hootenanny," of barn dancing, song, discussion, presentations and a general meeting of minds, spirit and will on all aspects of a perennial future.