Adam Saunders is an urban farmer, forester, entrepreneur and futurist thinker. His feature in The New Territory Issue 01 is titled The 1,000-Year Plan.
You live and work in Columbia, MO. How did you come to settle down there?
I moved to Columbia in 2003 when I enrolled at the University of Missouri-Columbia, moving up from Springfield, MO. As a student, I started organizing on campus with Sustain Mizzou, which evolved into the formation of the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture in 2009. That’s where I work today. That same year, I bought a 109-year-old downtown rooming house and have really settled into this wonderful community.
What are some of your favorite parts about living in Columbia?
Columbia has an interesting mix of people with deep roots in the area, and also those who are drawn here because of the Universities. The landscape is beautiful. Columbia sits on a transition between the Missouri Ozarks and the Great Plains, with the Missouri River valley running between. This creates a diverse mixture of landscapes, ecosystems and farming opportunities.
(If you’re interested in the geography and biota of Missouri, check out this podcast episode from In Defense of Plants.)
Your piece in NT outlines principles for sustainable farming communities in what you call the 1,000-Year Plan. Are there any communities in the Lower Midwest that already espouse these values and practices?
There’s a recently published book that answers this question in good detail. It’s called Resilient Agriculture by Laura Lengnick. It specifically mentions Shepherd Farms in Clifton, MO and Fuller Farms in Emporia, Kansas. Food is a great entry point to think about sustainability. It’s a topic that is empowering and that yields tangible (and delicious) results.
What’s your favorite book right now?
The Lean Farm by Ben Hartman. It’s a book about designing a farm that is efficient and profitable. My wife is an architect and she really appreciates how Hartman uses straightforward organizing systems to reduce waste and streamline planning, production, processing, and sales.