luminescent prairie

written by Ethan Evans, a summer intern, as he leaves the farm

My summer as an intern at mustard seed passed like a storm cloud on the horizon; slow in its coming, the end abruptly looming overhead. It's challenging to write about an experience which has imparted numerous ideas, feelings, interests, and goals in me that I will continue to internalize as I look back on my time here.

The impetus for my arrival and much of my time here centered around the prairie. Following a great biology class at Grinnell College, I became interested in prairie restoration. While great for enriching soil, improving water quality, creating an ecosystem for a diverse array of species (especially pollinators!), and bringing back many of Iowa's endangered or rare species, I've found that the prairie invokes something deeper. My work at mustard seed (attacking invasive species, establishing prairie strips, and studying the landscape) has made me think about an intrinsic and ethical requirement for the stewardship our land. Iowa has the most habitat loss of any state in America. As a write this in a shuttle moving away from Ames, each stalk of corn weighed down by its tassel like a worshiper kneeling in a churchpew seems like a bold statement in favor of a better way of living. Mustard Seed's prairies, gardens, and land are a testament to intensive food production that is neither profit oriented nor environmentally draining.
Every evening the prairie grows luminescent, each of its members straining to grasp the last of the sun. Each plant holds its own niche, unique and irreplaceable. It is at mustard seed I have begun to find mine.
"In wildness is the preservation of the world"