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Resetting the table for people and plants: Botanic gardens and research organizations collaborate to address food and agricultural plant blindness

Of the myriad gifts plants provide to humanity, food is among the most visible, as everyone needs to eat, every single day. Due to their universal importance, food and agricultural plants would appear to represent ideal entryways to address plant blindness.

Yet increasing urbanization worldwide and decreasing proportions of the global workforce in agriculture are limiting opportunities for people to have direct, hands‐on experiences with food and agricultural plants outside of retail purchasing, meal preparation, and food consumption. This disconnect is troubling, especially as the challenges to the sustainability of our future food supply necessitate that society, and certainly elected decision‐makers, have the capacity to understand the potential benefits, risks, and tradeoffs inherent to agriculture and its advancing technologies.

We outline opportunities to address agricultural plant blindness with emphasis on current complex issues within the food and agriculture sector. We provide examples of fruitful collaborations between botanic gardens, academic institutions, nonprofits, and agricultural research organizations that engage people around these issues.