Video

Restoring Prairie On The Great Plains

Feb 4, 2016

From the air, the Midwest looks like a patchwork of cropland and pastures. But before the land was turned over to plows and center pivots, most of it was a sea of grass. 

Native grasslands were first plowed by pioneers homesteading on the plains. More land was converted to crops as tractors and machinery arrived on the farm and conversion of land intensified. 

Cody-Kilgore Superintendant Todd Chessmore helps students check inventory at the store.
Mike Tobias / For Harvest Public Media

The tiny Nebraska town of Cody sits atop Cherry County, a sparsely populated chunk of Sandhills ranchland larger than the entire state of Connecticut. Cody’s population of just 156 people means it’s not a prime location for any retail business.

There is no grocery store in town, the previous grocery store closed more than a decade ago.

Enter: Students from the Cody-Kilgore school system.

As part of their education, local students run the Circle C grocery store. The store does about $250,000 of business a year and stocks about 1,500 items.

Watch: What Does It Take To Replant The Prairie?

Jan 25, 2016
Brian Seifferlein / Harvest Public Media

The prairie grasslands of the U.S. are victims of the intense agricultural development that occurred after the Civil War. Today, experts say that nearly 99 percent of the original prairie has been plowed under.

Birds, insects and other wildlife that need a prairie ecosystem to survive have less room to roam.

Now, several environmental groups are working in the Midwest to turn back the dial of history.

High on the Nebraska plains, there’s a citrus grove with trees holding up a canopy of lemons, grapefruit-sized oranges, green figs, and bunches of grapes.

Yes, it’s indoors. And it’s only possible because it taps in to the core of the earth’s own energy, geothermal heating in the winter and cooling in the summer.

Russ Finch, a former mail carrier and farmer, designed the greenhouse, which he calls the Greenhouse in the Snow. The original, which he built more than 20 years ago, is connected to his home.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

One of the ways researchers study and try to contain outbreaks is by tracing the virus’ path. But that was especially confusing with the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus, or PED.

The Veterinary Diagnostic Lab at Iowa State University first identified PED in the U.S. in May 2013. Then, they went back to samples from hog farms they had in storage and were able to track the virus back to an Ohio farm in April 2013.

Watch: How We're Feasting On Fuel

Dec 3, 2015

You might not think about it, but our modern food production system is based on turning fossil fuels into food.

A largely inefficient system, with about 10 units of fossil energy converting to about 1 unit of food energy, it’s unsustainable as the global population continues to rise.

Though our turkey dinner gets us sleepy, food is energy for our bodies. It’s the same energy that heats our homes, runs our cars, charges our phones.

Watch: Corn Husking 101

Oct 23, 2015
Abby Wendle / Harvest Public Media

I wiped my palms on my jeans, tugged at the bill of my baseball hat, and took a deep breath. It was my first time competing in the annual Illinois State Corn Husking Contest at the end of September and I was nervous.

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