January 19, 2005

Kentuckians concerned about the state’s rural culture can join educators, poets, novelists, chefs, artisans, economists, journalists, students, community leaders and several prominent thinkers and writers in a unique symposium at the University of Kentucky March 4 and 5.

“Growing Kentucky: New Directions for Our Culture of Land and Food” is the first joint effort by two parts of UK that most folks rarely say in the same breath: the Gaines Center for the Humanities and the College of Agriculture.

Partners for Family Farms is also a co-sponsor of the symposium, which will explore future visions for Kentucky agriculture and rural communities within the context of rural economies experiencing transition and new directions.

“Growing Kentucky” is the latest in a series of symposiums that each year honor the life and work of Joy Bale Boone, Kentucky’s first poet laureate, who knew well the state’s rural culture.

“Our aim with this symposium is to consider all aspects of the state’s rural agricultural communities – the economic, the environmental, the social, and the spiritual,” said Dan Rowland, Gaines Center director.

“By bringing together a broad spectrum of talent and expertise from both agriculture and the humanities we hope to achieve some innovative outcomes from this event, which is the first of its kind for Kentucky,” said Scott Smith, dean of UK’s College of Agriculture.

Barbara Kingsolver, Wendell Berry, Michael Pollan and Davis McCombs are among the prominent writers who will share insights and participate in panel discussions during the symposium. 

Other featured panelists are chef Alice Waters, designer Jon Carloftis, musician Mike Seeger, chef Ouita Michel, musician Ron Pen, journalist & educator Al Cross, and former Kentucky governor Brereton Jones.  The Reel World String Band will perform both traditional and new music.  The symposium’s final event will be the Phyllis Pray Bober Memorial Feast created by the undergraduate Fellows of the Gaines Center for the Humanities, and presented by chef Ouita Michel and the staff of the Holly Hill Inn.  The feast will celebrate Kentucky food and music.

“When we think of Kentucky’s rich cultural heritage of music, literature, and food it just makes sense that a conference exploring the future of agricultural communities should include the best and brightest minds from all these different areas,” said Bonnie Tanner, assistant extension director for family and consumer sciences in the College of Agriculture.

Sessions will offer opportunities for an open exchange of ideas.  Attendees will be ethnically diverse, will represent a variety of professions and backgrounds, and will include both rural and urban Kentuckians.

“If these diverse voices can be brought into harmony, then we can look forward to a sharply improved future for all of our citizens, urban and rural,” said Rowland.

“Food & Arts,” “Land Use,” “Food Marketing,” and “Environmental Journalism” are some of the topics that will address an interlocking set of themes on improving local economies while integrating food systems into communities. In addition to presenting lectures and readings, speakers will engage with about 100 local and national participants to create a new vision for Kentucky’s heritage of food and culture.

For more information, contact Dan Rowland at the Gaines Center for the Humanities,hisdan@uky.edu, 859-257-1537; Lisa Broome-Price, Gaines Center for the Humanities,lbroome@hotmail.com, 859-257-1537; Bonnie Tanner, College of Agriculture,bonniet@uky.edu, 859-257-3887; or Sue Weant, Partners for Family Farms,msdweant@aol.com, 859-233-3056.       


Source:  Dan Rowland, 859-257-1537