How do we feed a growing world when the way we eat fuels climate change?

Laura Lengnick, Ph.D., will explore some answers to this question during a presentation titled “Climate Change, Resilience and the Future of Food,” 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 21, with a reception to follow, at the Unity College Center for the Performing Arts, 42 Depot St., Unity.

“Climate change is upon us, and agriculture is inextricably involved,” Lengnick said. “Farming is fundamental to our identity as a species, and it is crucial to the health and well-being of our communities. But the way that we eat fuels the 21st-century challenges that threaten our way of life. How do we resolve this dilemma?”

To find answers, Lengnick, an author, educator, scientist, and farmer, will draw from her new book, “Resilient Agriculture: Cultivating Food Systems for a Changing Climate,” which tells the adaptation stories of 25 award-winning sustainable U.S. producers of vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains, and livestock.

“These producers, many of them third- or fourth-generation farmers and ranchers, have managed sustainable businesses in the same location for 25 to more than 40 years,” Lengnick said. “Since about 2000, most have experienced increased challenges associated with more variable weather and more frequent and intense weather extremes.” 

Lengnick discovered that these producers are innovating new strategies of sustainable agriculture to reduce climate risk and cultivate resilience on their farms and ranches.

Lengnick has more than 30 years of experience as a researcher, policymaker, educator, and farmer. Her work in soil quality and sustainable farming was nationally recognized with a USDA Secretary’s Honor Award in 2002, and she contributed to the third National Climate Assessment as a lead author of the 2012 USDA report “Climate Change and U.S. Agriculture: Effects and Adaptation.”

Lengnick led the academic program in sustainable agriculture at Warren Wilson College for more than a decade, where she also served as the Director of Sustainability Education and taught agroecology, change leadership, whole farm planning with holistic management, sustainability assessment, and sustainable decision-making. 

In 2015, Lengnick launched Cultivating Resilience LLC, an Asheville N.C.-based private consulting firm offering ecosystem-based climate resilience planning.  She holds an adjunct faculty position in the Horticulture Department at North Carolina State University and is an affiliated researcher with the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project’s Local Food Research Center. Her new book, “Resilient Agriculture: Cultivating Food Systems for a Changing Climate,” was released in May by New Society Publishers.