April 25, 2022 | By: Jordan Strickler
Lexington, Ky.


A mural celebrating the past, present and future of Kentucky agriculture and the University of Kentucky's contributions can now be seen at UK’s North Farm, just north of Lexington. Artist Josh Mitcham painted the scene, which adorns the side of the agronomy field laboratory building.

“The mural is somewhat of a visual timeline of the advancement of Kentucky agriculture,” said Matthew Allen, senior lab technician in weed science at the farm. “This modern art on an older building is capable of sparking new ideas for research and conversation about the future of Kentucky agriculture.”

The mural, titled “Honoring Kentucky’s Agricultural Excellence,” highlights many of the state’s iconic farming enterprises.

“This is the first thing you see when you come into the farm, and it’s a good visual landmark,” Mitcham said. “This isn’t as much of a fine-art piece as it is a teaching tool. It’s art that gives an opportunity for visitors coming on to the site a starting point to have discussions based on what’s in the mural.”

Mitcham, a former agriculture teacher at Meade and Nelson County high schools, grew up helping his grandfather farm. He said he was lucky to have a grandfather who wanted him engaged in farming and who gave him the opportunity to get out in the fields.

“Every day after school, on Saturdays and during the summer, I would help my grandfather, whether it was fencing or cattle or working hay or a crop,” Mitcham said. “We had a small farm, but it was very diversified, and I’m really glad I had that experience.”

The mural is a product of a Sustainability Challenge Grant award, which is a collaborative effort of the President’s Sustainability Advisory Committee, The Tracy Farmer Institute for Sustainability and the Environment and the Office of Sustainability. The UK College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment and the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences also provided funding for the artwork.

“It is our hope that this mural helps to create a sense of connectivity and inclusivity between all peoples in the UK community by highlighting the importance of diversity to our agricultural heritage,” Allen said. “When people arrive at North Farm for the first time, we want them to look at the mural and feel as if they can really see themselves growing here.”


Matthew Allen, matthew.allen4@uky.edu