Dr. John O’Sullivan - Research

Dr. John O’Sullivan stands on the front line of one of the most important global conversations to date—producing a sustainable and equitable food supply.

In light of the many concerns about climate change and the affect it’s had on the worlds food supply, O’Sullivan is a tenured researcher who is committed to understanding and developing smart decisions and sustainable practices that will save the world’s food supply and in turn save lives.

“We don’t know what’s going on but we don’t need to assume that business as usual is going to make it. There are a lot of signs that our approaches need to be rethought,” said O’Sullivan.
O’Sullivan is professor of sustainable agriculture, local and community food and co-director of the Center for Environmental Farming Systems at North Carolina A&T State University. He has been with the university since 1983.

In August 2013 he was awarded The Order of the Long Leaf Pine by North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory for his long-term efforts in sustainable local food, food equity and food justice. The award is the most honorable order a North Carolina governor can give to a citizen.

Over the past 20 years O’Sullivan has worked to improve appropriate sustainable production practices in agriculture, mechanisms by which farmers can make profits and promoting the value of agriculture to rural North Carolina to protect the local food market.

“People say how are we going to feed the 9 billion as though that is the only question,” he said. “We’ve got to do that by maintaining the environment. We’ve got to do it such that it is equitable that everybody is engaged and it is a value to everybody and not just to a privileged few.”

As a professor O’Sullivan has noticed an increase in the number of students that are interested in the current challenges of agriculture. One of his classes went on a few field trips to local gardens in the area and one of his students started an on-campus farmer’s market. O’Sullivan has been able to watch, support and cultivate the agricultural interests of students.

For O’Sullivan, his passion for agriculture is simple.

“We need to be involved in our food,” he said. “From the food choices that we make when we buy them to the joy of growing them, cooking them and trying new food. To me food is central to who we are.”

O’Sullivan manages to continue this global conversation about food supply locally by inspiring one classroom at a time.

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