A New Farm Language

W. Joe Lewis


Subtitle: How a sharecropper's son discovered a world of talking plants, smart insects, and natural solutions

Includes an introduction by John Ikerd and a foreword by Mark Schatzker.

Joe Lewis grew up poor on a Mississippi cotton farm without electricity or running water. And yet it was a rich life — one lived in close proximity to family and nature. Because of a childhood spent around mules, chickens and insects of every kind, Lewis developed a deep and abiding curiosity for the creatures of the natural world. That led him on a trajectory to become an award-winning entomologist with the USDA-ARS at the Tifton Campus, University of Georgia.

During his 40-year career, Lewis discovered how plants use “SOS” signals to recruit beneficial insects to their defense. In 2008, he was awarded the coveted Wolf Prize in Agriculture for this groundbreaking work. In his new book, Lewis looks back on his charmed childhood and distinguished scientific career while tracing our industrialized country’s increasing alienation from nature.

Lewis believes we can reconnect with nature through learning to speak a new language of co-existence and cooperation — both in our agriculture and our everyday lives. This coming-of-age tale will inspire anyone interested in agriculture, talking plants and smart insects.

Includes a foreword by Mark Schatzker. Preface by John Ikerd.

WATCH THE REPLAY of a free evening with authors Joe Lewis and John Ikerd and farmer Alton Walker recorded on March 31, 2021, to officially launch the latest book from Acres U.S.A.! 

“If I am saying nothing else here, I am saying that our disconnect from nature—her beauty, her power, her amazing ability to give— is, more than anything, the greatest threat to our survival.” — W. Joe Lewis, author

"Joe Lewis’ book is not an ordinary book about a scientific discovery; it is a unique and important book about nature and the nature of life.” — John Ikerd, author of Sustainable Capitalism, A Return to Common Sense, and Small Farms are Real Farms

Copyright 2021 • Softcover • 218 pages 

About the Author

Joe Lewis mugshot

Dr. W. Joe Lewis is an award winning scientist, recognized worldwide for major crosscutting discoveries in the fundamental science of pest management. The models for his studies have been behavioral and chemical interactions of parasitoids, insect herbivores, and plants, along with ecosystem principles. The impact of his research is evidenced by over 200 refereed scientific publications and book chapters, including five papers in prestigious journals of Nature and Science, and three in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and an invitational paper in Scientific American. His work has been highlighted extensively in the popular press, including CNN Science and Technology, BBC/ Discovery Channel, Business Week, National Public Radio and BBC Wildlife, Fortune Magazine, and NBC Today Show.

He grew up as a sharecropper’s son in south Mississippi, later earning a Ph.D. degree from Mississippi State University at 24 years of age. From 1967 until his retirement in 2006, he was a research entomologist in the USDA, ARS, Tifton, Georgia. with joint faculty appointments with the University of Georgia and University of Florida. He served as an elected member of the City Council and Vice-Mayor of the City of Tifton, Georgia, for 16 years. He is married (wife, Beth) with two children and four grandchildren. He currently is President and Owner, Creative Initiatives, LLC, implementing a range of research and educational programs in cooperation with school systems, local and state governments toward school improvement and sustainable communities.

Capstoned by the 2008 world renowned Wolf Prize in Agriculture, personally presented in Jerusalem by Israeli President, Shimon Peres, Dr. Lewis’s numerous honors and awards include: the prestigious Founder's Memorial Lecturer Award by the Entomological Society of America; Honorary Visiting Professor, University of California, Berkeley; the E. T. York Distinguished Lecturer, Auburn University; the C. P. Alexander Distinguished Lecturer, University of Massachusetts; named U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agriculture Research Service Outstanding Scientist of the Year; received Special Congressional Recognition for Outstanding Achievement, Service and Public Distinction; decorated internationally by the Jean-Marie Delwart Foundation Award and Prize (conferred in Brussels, in conjunction with the Royal Academy of Sciences of Belgium); and an Invitational Fellowship for Research by the Japan Society for Promotion of Science. He was recently honored during an on-campus ceremony as a Distinguished Fellow by the Mississippi State University, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

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Russ B.
United States United States


I bought this book and liked it however I am upset with acres usa because i ordered Albrecht's Calcium and have not recieved it even though that say it was delivered

William B.
United States United States

Not that great

The author is a great agricultural scientist. The science parts of the book, and the story of his early days on a diversified share cropping farm, are good. However he doesn’t dwell long enough on how his farm language is different and why. The other biographical parts are mundane. And somehow, he reviews his entire book with no mention or discussion of racial issues in the South. Amazing.

joanne d.
United States United States

Wonderful book for all ages that affects us all

A must read for all ages to enlighten us from life of farm in rural Mississippi to present day farming systems exposing the disconnect from us and nature. Who knew plants talk to insects! Nature is not the enemy! We must find more natural solutions to farming and pestilence. This is a great read even if you don't have a science background. One way or another things addressed in this book affects us all!

Gene N.
United States United States

Ryan, it is great. & I am going to order this yrs. subscription from Acres to give to a young couple / wanna be farmers. What is my cost? I’ll get there address sent to you.

Greg R.
United States United States

A nice read

I found this to be an easy and enjoyable read. It is an autobiography and highlights agriculture's transformation over the past several decades through the author's experiences. I had originally expected more of a "hidden side of nature" expose on how agroecosystems function differently than we are often taught. More like popular press science writing. These gems are in the book, just embedded in a larger story.

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