California Needs an Agricultural Revolution

From the Ojai Valley, I Can See the State’s Post-Carbon Future—And It Looks Like the Ancient Past

The Ojai Valley in Ventura County is a magical place. Consider its elements: the sweet and intoxicating smell of California citrus blossoms in the spring, the open space preserved by orchards, the seasonal creeks that run free through the cultivated lands, the surrounding chaparral covered hills and mountains.

But the Ojai Valley is also a place in peril. That’s because the water source that keeps this inland Ventura hamlet thriving is nearly dry.

Lake Casitas reservoir was built in the late 1950s when decades of plentiful rain hid the true nature of …

To Beat Climate Change, Rural Towns and Farms Need to Head North | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

To Beat Climate Change, Rural Towns and Farms Need to Head North

A Policy of ‘Managed Retreat’ Would Move California’s Thirsty Agriculture to a Wetter Part of the State 

Twenty-five years ago, at age 18, I followed my uncle to the top of Mount Lassen for a 10,000-foot view of Northern California’s Fourth of July fireworks. We watched the …

The 20th-Century Rise of the Confederate Soybean | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The 20th-Century Rise of the Confederate Soybean

The Emergence of Plants Named 'Jackson' and 'Lee' Tell a Larger Story of How the USDA Catered to White Farmers

If you were a devoted reader of Soybean Digest in the middle decades of the last century—likely a farmer who was either growing soybeans or seriously considering it—you might have …

America’s Most Productive Agricultural Region Is Also One of Its Most Diverse | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

America’s Most Productive Agricultural Region Is Also One of Its Most Diverse

Since the 19th Century, California’s San Joaquin Valley Has Drawn Farmers From Around the World

California’s San Joaquin Valley is often dismissed as small and rural. To the contrary, it’s a massive area of farms, ranches, small towns, and growing cities, emblematic of the American …

Have You Ever Stared Into an Alpaca’s Soul?

Photographer Traer Scott Views Livestock as Individuals Rather Than Numbers

Have you ever felt the direct, penetrating gaze of an alpaca? Or admired the symmetry of a sheep’s fuzzy nose? Or rued the fact that you had never stroked a …

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. …