Syrian seeds and the future of wheat

When a team of researchers set loose a buzzing horde of Hessian flies on 20,000 seedlings in a Kansas greenhouse, they made a discovery that continues to ripple from midwestern wheat fields to the rolling hills that surround the battered Syrian city of Aleppo. The seeds, once stored in a seed bank outside of that… » Read More

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    Yale Environment 360

You are what you eat

At a recent dinner party to celebrate a friend’s birthday, I met a gregarious German woman in her sixties who had just tried one of those DNA testing kits to learn about her family history. “Everyone is doing it,” she said, smiling and laughing, speaking in a thick accent. “You just spit into a tube,… » Read More

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    CookingLight

Homes or gardens?

Vacant lots dot lower-income neighborhoods across the country. In many cities, urban growers have planted in those lots, repurposing abandoned city land into gardens with farmers markets and healthy food. But cities often still register such plots as “vacant,” which allows them to be snatched up by housing developers. In communities where both housing and… » Read More

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    NPR's The Salt

Drinking problems: A Kansas farm town confronts a tap-water crisis

Elizabeth Royte, a contributing editor at FERN, writes about the long history of nitrate contamination in the water of Pretty Prairie, Kansas, a farming community just west of Wichita, in the latest issue of Harper’s Magazine. One of the things she explores is why residents didn’t demand that the town fix the problem, even though they’ve… » Read More

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The jamón went down to Georgia

Even from a distance, the pigs looked odd. It was hard to see them clearly at first; heavy rains had carved ruts into the dirt road that led into the pasture, and every time the Jeep hit bottom, my glasses slid down my nose. But as we jolted forward, the mass of dark bodies crowding… » Read More

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Building a backup bee

Every February an extraordinary research project resumes in the southwestern corner of California’s Central Valley. It takes place inside a series of huge cages that span 20 acres by a vast pistachio grove. Each cage is shaped like a rectangular warehouse but is made entirely of extremely fine netting, pulled tight and straight along strong,… » Read More

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    Scientific American

A slow-motion catastrophe threatens 350-year-old farms

On the lower eastern shore of Maryland, the stately Almodington plantation overlooks the Manokin River as it drains into the Chesapeake Bay. First surveyed in 1663, the expansive farm sits a few miles from Princess Anne, a town named for the daughter of King George II. For 350 years, this region’s rich, sandy soils and… » Read More

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    The Atlantic

An unlikely climate crusade in Trump country

It was a quarter after eight on a steamy August morning when Rachel Grantham rumbled up in a big black pickup truck. The 26-year-old, six-foot-three agronomist sported a pink top, a purple miniskirt, camouflage muck boots and a single blonde braid draped over one shoulder. I hoisted myself into the cab of the truck, and we… » Read More

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