EP 007 - Mary Berry of The Berry Center

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When I caught the bug for sustainability, and specifically the intersection farming and environmentalism, my college professor handed me a book, called “Unsettling of America.” In large blue lettering the last name “Berry,” ran up the spine of the book. 250 pages later, my ideas, my perspective, my frustration, and my enthusiasm to create a more sustainable food system was amplified.

In this book, Wendell Berry brought to light many problems facing agricultural communities and society in the 1960s and 70s. He explained the importance of ‘living within our limits”, the need to support rural farm communities, and how industrial principles and values have infiltrated our culture.

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Our guest today, Mary Berry, is continuing the work and stewardship that her father exclaimed in that book over forty years ago. Working at The Berry Center, located in her hometown of New Castle, in Henry County Kentucky, Mary is spending her time farming, advocating for farmers, building more resilient communities, and creating economies for the farming population living there. Growing up in a rural farming community has shaped her identity.

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Mary is a farmer, encouraging to young farmers coming up, honest about the challenges, hopeful about the future, and unrelenting in her focus. She focuses her efforts on bringing people back to the farm and keeping them there by making sure there is financial and cultural support. Taking inspiration from the Federal Tobacco Program, that her grandfather championed, she is working to provide stability to farmers through quota systems and market price support. By supporting farmers, she hopes to bring people back to the farm and to allow those working in the fields to continue their work.

I sat down with her in the Spring of 2017, while traveling west through the rolling hills of Kentucky. Join us at the table, this is Mary Berry, of The Berry Center in New Castle, Kentucky.

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We believe that every person has a connection to food. Each podcast will feature a deep dive interview with food producers, as we try to learn what inspires and influences them on a personal level. For many, producing flavorful, wholesome, and sustainable food is a vocation. Food has a voice. Listen in