I have been thinking about the coming Thanksgiving holiday.
We often relate Thanksgiving to the era of the Pilgrims, but it wasn’t until the mid-nineteenth century that it became an official U.S. holiday. Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a November “day of Thanksgiving and Praise” in 1863 at the midpoint of the Civil War. He hoped the divided nation might unite in gratitude for the “blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies.”
Fruitful fields and healthful skies: how precious and universally important they are. If we are to feed the world—a world that has quadrupled in population during my lifetime—we will need to produce more food than ever before. Current agriculture can’t scale—too much fertilizer required, too much soil and water lost. We must create the most “fruitful fields” in human history while somehow preserving our “healthful skies” (our environment) for the generations to come.
The Danforth Center was founded for this mission. In the face of headlines about the coming agricultural environmental crisis, Danforth Center scientists are generating new ideas, groundbreaking innovation, the best of human collaboration and creativity. With today’s computational power, artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, and all the rest, we can go farther and faster in science than ever before. And Danforth Center partners in the 39 North innovation district, BRDG, Helix, and the new EDGE building currently under construction, are part of that process of acceleration.
All of us who care about the health of people and planet are coming together to work toward a sustainable future. I am grateful this Thanksgiving to have friends like you at my side.
Thank you for your part in making our work successful.
William H. Danforth
Donald Danforth Plant Science Center