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Iowan addresses past abuses of Midwestern lands and offers hope in new book

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Talk of Iowa, hosted by Charity Nebbe

Iowa’s landscape is the most biologically altered in the United States. It didn’t take long for the European settlers who claimed land in Iowa to discover that the fertile soil could grow almost anything, and the tall grass prairie that once defined this land was plowed under. After 38 years of full-time teaching focused on agricultural and food law, Neil Hamilton's book gives a fresh perspective to a topic most people may take for granted.

On this encore edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe speaks with Hamilton about how the Back Forty — a field on his family's farm in Adams County — narrates part of The Land Remains. The book also weaves influences from past conservation leaders, efforts by current farmers and landowners, and insights from other authors to trace the parallels in attitudes toward the land to issues of historic racism, economic inequality and environmental vulnerability rooted in our land history.

This episode was originally produced on July 27, 2022.


  • Neil Hamilton, emeritus professor of law and former director of the Agricultural Law Center at Drake University
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Samantha McIntosh is a talk show producer at Iowa Public Radio. Prior to IPR, Samantha worked as a reporter for radio stations in southeast and west central Iowa under M&H Broadcasting, and before that she was a weekend music host for GO 96.3 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.