The Land Institute’s Prairie Festival returns Sept. 23 to 25

After a two-year pandemic hiatus, The Land Institute will host its 42nd Prairie Festival with a theme of "New Roots: Growing a movement from the ground down," at its headquarters, 2440 E. Water Well Road, Salina, Kansas, Sept. 23 to 25.

The event will feature new voices and perspectives, including Huascar Medina, poet laureate of Kansas; JohnElla Holmes of the Kansas Black Farmers Association; Linda Black Elk, food sovereignty coordinator at United Tribes Technical College; Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation; an exhibition by land artist Erin Wiersma; and a concert by musicians Paul Winter and Henrique Eisenmann. Along with great food, art, and music, highlights include the Friday night barn dance, Saturday morning Kernza pancake breakfast, and Sunday sunrise walk through the ancient Wauhob Prairie. Prairie Festival registration is now open.

The anchor address of the festival, the Strachan and Vivian Donnelley Family Keynote, will feature Medina, with his presentation Un Mango Grows in Kansas. It will explore Medina’s broader themes of what it means to put down roots in Kansas as a Latino, separation and inclusion, and writing poetry for ordinary people.

Unheard stories and new shared experiences are the cornerstones of this year’s program. The Kansas Black Farmers Association will hold a panel discussion entitled We Have Always Been at the Roots: The Black Farm Experience. Hosted by Holmes with KBFA members Web Davis, Donna McClish, and Ryan Tenney, they will discuss the often-overlooked past and living history of black farming.

The Land Institute will also showcase its work to develop perennial grain agriculture with in-depth talks, field tours, and demonstrations. Updates on Progress Toward a Perennial Future by The Land Institute Chief Scientist Tim Crews, and Aubrey Streit-Krug, director of ecosphere studies, will discuss the latest science and programs. In addition, the team will hold tours of institute research fields and talk with people about work on perennial grain crops, cropping systems, pollinators, soil ecology, civic science, and building new perennial grain supply chains from field to fork.

A big draw at Prairie Festival is the opportunity to eat and drink foods made with perennial grains developed by The Land Institute. The Friday night Hedge Fire Circle welcome reception will feature drinks made with perennial grains. In addition, Lawrence Beer Company is donating a special batch of Kernza beer called Perennial Pub Ale. On Saturday morning, the festival will host a breakfast with pancakes made from Kernza perennial grain flour and sausage made with bison raised on the institute’s fields.

Saturday afternoon, the Crop Stewardship program will sample Kernza bread from Artisan Naan Bakery and a perennial grain dish by award-winning cookbook author Beth Dooley. In addition, the Prairie Festival bookstore and concessions booth will have a variety of perennial grain foods and products for purchase, including those from innovative producers AJ Honey Farms, Perennial Pantry, and Sustain-a-Grain.

The festival welcomes all ages, in person or remotely. College students will receive reduced ticket prices, and admission is free for kids 18 years of age and under and those wishing to volunteer. A youth program will be available for children age 5 to 15 with signup at registration. An ADA-accessible viewing area will be open onsite. Additionally, the festival will host a live stream on YouTube for guests who cannot travel to experience it remotely. For more details and to register, visit the Prairie Festival information page at