Honoring the Harvest

June 20, 2019 • GREG GERSHUNY

The Aspen Institute, in partnership with the US Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, held the inaugural Honor the Harvest Forum this month on a farm in Newberg, Maryland. We gathered more than 100 leaders from across the food value system to think about how to shape the future of U.S. food and agriculture systems.

When we think about the history of our species, there are times that have proven pivotal to our survival and to our evolution. Thousands of years ago, one of our ancestors had the idea to take a seed and put it back into the soil. And from that seed, a plant grew. It isn’t hard to argue that their discovery was more fundamental to our ability to thrive than any of those by Edison or Einstein.

From that moment on, humans didn’t have to wait for nature to provide food; we controlled our own destiny. For centuries, farmers and ranchers have built off this discovery, developing systems and practices that have allowed us to plan ahead with incredible accuracy and precision, to build homes and families, and to create the modern society we live in today where we plant on the ground we live and we live to plant the ground

Yet today, we face a test that may be equal to the ones our ancestors faced. A test of survival, perseverance, and will. A test that will determine whether we can continue to build a society that works for all of us, that can feed each of us, and that can keep our planet habitable for those that come after us.

The conversations and collaboration that took place at the Honor the Harvest Forum will create opportunities for change and build lasting partnerships across the food and agriculture system, helping to design a more resilient future for generations to come. The Aspen Institute Energy and Environment Program’s mission is to explore significant challenges with diverse thinkers and doers to co-create a more prosperous, equitable, and sustainable society for all. The efforts put forward at the Inaugural Honor the Harvest Forum, and the continued efforts to come, will help us to achieve that mission. It is with gratitude and hope that I look to the future.

To learn more about the forum, please visit Information on outcomes, next steps, and next year’s Forum will be updated regularly.

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