On this episode we’re discussing talking plants and smart insects with entomologist and author Dr. Joe Lewis.
Lewis spent his career in entomology with the USDA-Agricultural Research Service at the Tifton Campus of the University of Georgia. It was there that he worked to unlock the secrets of how plants and insects communicate with one another, particularly how plants use SOS signals to recruit beneficial insects to their defense. Based on those groundbreaking insights, Lewis and his colleagues developed holistic and sustainable approaches to pest management within agricultural systems. In 2008, along with his colleagues John A, Pickett and James H. Tumlinson, Lewis received the prestigious Wolf Prize in Agriculture.
Although Lewis has published papers in many academic and scientific journals, he’s just published his first book for Acres U.S.A. It’s called A New Farm Language: How a Sharecropper’s Son Discovered a World of Talking Plants, Smart Insects, and Natural Solutions.
The book tells the story of Joe Lewis’s humble beginnings as the son of an illiterate Mississippi sharecropper and the hardscrabble, yet happy childhood he spent raising chickens and growing cotton. It was on that small, rented farm, which had no electricity or indoor plumbing, that Lewis developed a fondness for nature that would set him on an unlikely path toward becoming an eminent scientist and innovator. More than a memoir, A New Farm Language is a manifesto and mission statement confronting the abuses of industrial agriculture and defending the value of strong communities and natural solutions.