The Land Remains blends personal memoir, a history of Midwestern land conservation, and an analysis of contemporary issues of soil health, water quality, public lands, and future challenges to tell the story how land shapes our lives. Written by Prof. Neil Hamilton, a well-known authority on agriculture and land policy who recently retired after 36 years directing the Agricultural Law Center at Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa. The Land Remains weaves stories from his career working with food and the land to bring a fresh perspective to a topic most people take for granted. The book is narrated in part by the voice of the Back Forty, a field on his family’s farm in Adams County. Influenced by past conservation leaders like John Lacey and Aldo Leopold, as well as efforts by current farmers and landowners who care for and steward the land. The book also weaves new insights from authors like Eddie Glaude Jr. and Jedidiah Purdy to trace the parallels in our attitudes toward the land to issues of historic racism, economic inequality, and environmental vulnerability rooted in our land history.
The Land Remains identifies reasons to be optimistic—we can find hope and resiliency from the land by examining how new attitudes toward land can address past abuses. Demand for better food is creating opportunities for better land stewardship and new farmers, land trusts are helping owners protect unique lands, and conservation practices to improve soil health and protect water quality are laying the foundation for how the Nation will address the challenge of climate change. Whether you are a landowner or a citizen, our history and future are shaped by how we treat the land. The Land Remains will leave readers informed, inspired, and thinking differently about how land will shape the future.
Neil Hamilton is an emeritus professor of law and the former director of the Agricultural Law Center at Drake University in Des Moines. He retired from full-time teaching in 2019 after thirty-eight years focusing on agriculture and food law. Raised on his family farm in Adams County, he attended Iowa State University for Forestry and the University of Iowa for Law. Teaching, writing, and consulting work led to travels around the globe and across the state and nation. His advice is sought by Presidential candidates, cabinet secretaries, reporters, and others looking for insight on issues involving farming, rural society, conservation, and land tenure. He has served for decades on a variety of non-profit boards including the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation and Seed Savers Exchange. He lives with his wife Khanh at Sunstead Farm, a market garden oasis they created on Sugar Creek, near Waukee, just west of Des Moines.
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