Organic Farmer to give U-M Lecture on Water Challenges

Organic Farmer to give U-M Lecture on Water Challenges

Fred Kirschenmann will speak Nov. 10 at U-M on the St. Paul campus.

Organic farming thought leader Fred Kirschenmann will speak at University of Minnesota Thursday, Nov. 10, on "Water and the Challenges Facing U.S. and World Agriculture in the 21st Century."

Kirschenmann, a national leader in the organic food and farming movement, will deliver the sixth lecture in the annual Moos Family Speaker Series at 7 p.m. in the St. Paul Student Center Theater, 2017 Buford Ave., St. Paul.

Kirschenmann is a distinguished fellow at Iowa State University's Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture.

The event is sponsored by the Freshwater Society and the University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences. It is free and open to the public. Seating is limited. Visit www.freshwater.org/2011Kirschenmann/ to register and reserve your place.

There are many ways to describe Kirschenmann: philosopher, farmer, author and advocate. In addition to his work at the Leopold Center, he is president of the board of directors of the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, N.Y. He wrote Cultivating an Ecological Conscience: Essays from a Farmer Philosopher, published in 2010 by the University Press of Kentucky. This year, he was honored by the James Beard Foundation for "lifelong work on sustainable food and farming systems."

The message of his lecture, Kirschenmann says, will be that serious changes must be made in the way America and the world grow food.

A series of crises -- the drawing down of groundwater reserves around the world; depletion of fossil fuels; looming shortages in two basic agricultural fertilizers, phosphorus and potassium; and a changing climate -- are occurring at the same time that population growth and changing diets around the world are increasing demand for food.

Organic agriculture, the kind Kirschenmann long has advocated and practiced on his own 2,400-acre farm in North Dakota, is not enough of an answer, he says. Nor is any single technological fix.

For the past century, he says, agriculture has been designed as an industrial operation, assuming that the natural resources to fuel that industry and the sinks in nature to absorb its wastes would always be in sufficient supply. Tomorrow's agriculture has to be designed to mimic nature, with the intention to make it more resilient and largely self-renewing.

Kirschenmann's lecture is part of the Moos Family Speaker Series, which honors the late Malcolm Moos, president of the University of Minnesota from 1967 to 1974.

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