Agricultural and food systems touch virtually all aspects of a community and its environment. Transitioning to more sustainable practices requires experts and institutions, but they need to be integrated into community organizations and people to create more interactive, solutions-oriented collaboration.
The UMD Land Lab is best understood as part of the growth of regionally collaborative laboratories for landscape-scale action research in agricultural, environmental and conservation settings. The environmental changes that we are experiencing are global in scope but manifest themselves at local and regional scales. Developing, evaluating, and advising communities on workable solutions is increasingly urgent for communities and regions.
Accordingly, we work within a solutions oriented framework to explore new ways of developing community and regionally based food and agricultural systems. Higher education has a special obligation and opportunity contribution to innovate solutions-oriented approaches given that we train many of the youth who will inherit a rapidly changing planet.
As a regional land grant institution located at the head of the largest freshwater lake in the world, the University of Minnesota Duluth is well situated to respond to these emergent challenges. How do we meet human needs while enhancing natural systems within our region. We believe this collaborative approach will bridge political and economic silos that often create gridlock at larger scales.