Interesting work going on at the University of Kentucky: on March 1, the inaugural session of a series on

"what keeps Kentucky agrarian and how the viability and diversity of Kentucky's agrarian heritages can be enhanced."

See flyer here (pdf).

Moderator Garrett Graddy-Lovelace, Ph.D., assistant professor at American University's School of International Service (and formerly of BigLex), sent an invitation that was forwarded to me, explaining more:

Dear friends,

Please join us this Saturday morning, March 1st, for the first annual 'Kentucky Agrarian Question' panel at the University of Kentucky's Dimensions of Political Ecology conference (10-11:40am). The panel features three local growers/community leaders with valuable agricultural experience, expertise--and vision: Mary Berry (executive director of Berry Center), Nelson Escobar (founder of La Minga cooperative and Community Farm Alliance Board member), and Hoppy Henton (of Waverly Farm in Woodford County).

I will be moderating, and UK College of Agriculture, Food & the Environment's Professor Tim Woods (of agricultural extension) will serve as discussant. It promises to be a timely and thought-provoking conversation on what keeps Kentucky agrarian and how the viability and diversity of Kentucky's agrarian heritages can be enhanced. In future panels, we plan to expand the conversation to include growers from far eastern and western Kentucky, urban agriculturalists, policy-makers, and hunters and fishers, among other agrarian practitioners. But, this is an exciting initial gathering this Saturday, focusing on the value and survival of small- and medium-scale family farms, from Woodford to Oldham and Henry Counties.

Directly preceding this panel will be a more academic presentation of recent scholarship on social justice and 'the agrarian question' around the world (Morocco, Cuba, Venezuela, Mexico). I'll be giving a paper in this more nerdy session (on the survival of small-scale farming within historical, contemporary, and potential US-Cuba agricultural relations). This will be from 8-9:45am.

Then after the Kentucky Agrarian Question panel will be National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) professor Gerardo Torres' talk on local agri-food networks in Mexico and the role of terroir-style labeling to build place-based brand identity and viable agrarian economies. Delicious, home-made tamales await you, along with fine coffee and chocolate. RSVP soon: 11:45am-1pm.

Please circulate this email and flyers to others asking agrarian questions, and please send on any questions or suggestions for next years' panels.

take care,