A beautiful and harmonious new vision for sustainable agriculture. By incorporating the voices of the most important ranchers, farmers, and environmentalists in this country, Dan Imhoff is able to bring together the power and creativity of this emerging movement.
— Alice Waters
Published in 2003
184 pages, 8.5" x 12"
200+ original photographs
Written by Daniel Imhoff
Designed by Roberto Carra
Foreword by Fred Kirschenman
Guard Llamas at
© Daniel Imhoff
Guard llamas, guard dogs, well-maintained fences, and hands-on monitoring form the backbone of the predator-friendly movement that is quickly becoming the best practice for exemplary livestock management in certain Western ranching communities.
Prairie Pothole Habitat Set-aside, North Dakota
© Roberto Carra
The Prairie Pothole region is an expanse of the northern plains that feeds the Missouri River and spans parts of Iowa and Minnesota, the Dakotas, northeastern Montana, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Rolling hills of farm fields and grasslands are studded with countless water-filled potholes (up to 100 glacially scoured basins per square mile) where up to 70 percent of all North American ducks are born. Since the late 1980s, conservation programs have ensured that millions of acres of pothole wetlands have been maintained as wild areas to protect fragile migratory waterfowl populations.
In the world of sustainable agriculture, we hear a lot about the term “biodiversity.” This can refer positively to the protection of soil organisms, such as earthworms or mycorrhizal fungi. Or it could refer negatively to the devastating loss of traditional crop diversity, in terms of the dwindling numbers, varieties, and breeds of plant and animal species grown and collected for human uses.
It is less often, however, that we hear people speaking about “wild biodiversity” in dialogs about sustainable agriculture. By this, we mean the healthy habitats needed to support native flora and fauna in the areas where agriculture takes place. In some ways this is understandable. After all, agriculture at its very root, involves the domestication of the wild. Ultimately, agricultural operations reduce complex landscapes into zones of intensive production for just a handful of crops, or more often, a single monoculture.
What has become particularly apparent in North America, however, is modern agriculture’s role in the “biodiversity crisis.” Over the past two centuries, agricultural production has converted more and more native habitats to agricultural lands—from river valleys to grasslands to wetlands to uplands and woodlands. In order to compete in global markets, to pay for expensive machinery and inputs, or simply to create “clean” farms void of “weeds,” ever larger amounts of habitats have been erased from already cleared lands. With the clearing of habitat comes the loss of species. The result is that wild biodiversity has been pushed further and further into isolated pockets on the landscape. Agriculture has become the leading cause of species endangerment on the North American continent. And the situation is not that different in other regions throughout the world. Habitat destruction and fragmentation, displacement of native species and the introduction of exotic species, persecution of predators, and pollution of all kinds are just a few of modern agriculture’s damaging ecological consequences.
Fortunately, a new vision for a more environmentally beneficial and sustainable agriculture is emerging. Such a vision begins with farms that gracefully meld within landscapes, pulsing with a wide range of native species. It combines implementation of landscape-level restoration efforts, natural systems farming research, and the community spirit of farmers’ markets and local watershed stakeholders groups.
Presenting an inspiring and unique look at this new conservation-based agriculture, Farming with the Wild offers vivid profiles of more than forty farms, ranches, and organizations in the U.S. together with more than 200 revealing full-color photographs. The result is an on-the-ground picture of a new agrarian movement that aims to provide healthier food to Americans while restoring healthy ecosystems across the country. This ambitious project was named the book “Most Likely to Save the Planet” by the Independent Publisher Book Awards in 2004 and has been the focus of a highly successful and ongoing outreach campaign in collaboration with the Wild Farm Alliance.