How Crop Circles Saved the Great Plains

In the 1940s, Farmer Frank Zybach Invented Center Pivot Irrigation and Brought the Dust Bowl Back to Life

If you live in the Great Plains, sooner or later you’ll get a question about those “crop circles” that can be observed from airplane windows during flights over the region. The answer is contained in the question: Put simply, they are circles of cropland.

The circular pattern, however, is different from the regular patchwork many people imagine traditional farm fields to be. The shape is the result of the center pivot irrigation, a development of the post-World War II era that profoundly changed the course of American food production. In …

When North Dakota Farmers Blew up Partisan Politics

By Focusing on Economic Cooperation, Early 20th-Century Small Landowners Pushed Back Against Crony Capitalism

In a nation that envisions innovation as the domain of Silicon Valley start-ups, most dismiss North Dakota as flyover country. Yet the state’s history shows it deserves more credit as …

The Humble but Hardy Leaf That Defines Our National Character

The Collard Green, Born of Trans-Atlantic Trading, Embodies the Mix of European and African Cultures

Driving the Deep South’s back roads in late fall or winter offers glimpses of a shade of green bluer and darker than most of the vegetation you’ll see, arranged in …

The Slave Gardener Who Turned the Pecan Into a Cash Crop

A Louisianan Known Only as Antoine Tamed a Wild Tree and Launched an Industry

Pecan trees, armored with scaly, gray bark and waving their green leaves in the breeze, grow in neat, uniform rows upon the Southern U.S. landscape and yield more than 300 …

In South L.A., a Growing Interest in Urban Gardening

A Place Called Home Offers Local Youth a Chance to Farm in the Middle of South Central Avenue

A Place Called Home is one of the treasures of the South Central Avenue corridor. It’s been so successful at serving young people ages 8 to 21 (they’re called members)—providing …