Dr. Peter Graham- admiring prairie legumes
Early last Monday morning I walked across my own bean field creating and composing an idea to work on with my esteemed friend and colleague Dr. Peter Graham. I was thinking about nitrogen fixation in edible beans under organic production practices. I was excited to pitch the idea to Peter and knew he’d share my interest.
When I sat down at my computer I learned that Peter had left us- unexpectedly over the weekend.
Peter changed the course of my life for the better in so many ways. Through the years he was my boss, adviser, mentor, colleague, and at last a friend. I am the person that I am today because of Peter’s generous and large investment of his time, teaching, and resources. I worked with Peter since I was an undergraduate in his lab- and stayed for nearly 8 years- working both in Minnesota and Ecuador. I found a home in his lab was a touchstone of my life.
Peter showed me first hand what it meant to really love the work that you do.
My interest and work in sustainability comes from him and his applied research in nitrogen fixation in legumes. Peter, a respected academic, was also an unsung hero of sustainability. To my mind and experience his work in South America, where he lived for many years, was the opposite of the green revolution. He worked with small farmer on low input (hence N fixation) bean production to improve peoples diets, not exports.
At a time when I was young, lost, and poor Peter brought out the best of my potential. I really am who I am and do what I do today because of the many years that Peter nurtured me with a free rein. There are so few people in life that look out for us (me) in the way that Peter did. Without him, my world is more uncertain and I've lost an umbrella of protection that he held over me for more than 1/2 my life... Even if he held it lightly.