St. Catharine launches new farming, agriculture program

New effort part of a partnership with The Berry Center of New Castle, Ky., and will feature the work of Wendell Berry

Special to The Record

St. Catharine College is launching a new degree program in farming and ecological agrarianism, part of a partnership with the The Berry Center and noted writer Wendell Berry, above.

ST. CATHARINE, Ky. — The Berry Center of New Castle, Ky. and St. Catharine College have announced an agreement and partnership to provide an interdisciplinary degree program in farming and ecological agrarianism.

The program will embed academic coursework with fieldwork and immersion experiences, using nature as the standard, for students interested in farming, rural communities, local economies, agriculture, geographical sustainability and stewardship for the land.

The campus of St. Catharine College is located just outside of Springfield, Ky., and is situated amidst well-tended farms in the geographical center of the state. The college continues to grow and it will soon see the completion of its new Emily W. Hundley Library and Center for Graduate Studies. The library will not only provide students with the most current advances in information technology, but starting with writings that have inspired the work of Wendell Berry, it will seek to provide the most complete collection of agricultural works in the state.

William D. Huston, President of St. Catharine College, was enthusiastic about what this partnership will mean for the students of St. Catharine, as well as for the future.

“The work that The Berry Center is doing in collecting and archiving the papers of the Berry family,” he said, “coupled with our collaboration with them as we develop this program and other offerings, will enable students to learn from the past in order to shape the future.

“This partnership with The Berry Center, Wendell Berry and his family takes us a long way in achieving these goals,” the college president added.

According to a news release from St. Catharine College, The Berry Center “continues the passion of Kentucky author Wendell Berry, his father, John M. Berry, Sr., a lawyer, farmer and co-author of the Burley Tobacco Program, and his brother, John M. Berry, Jr., lawyer, state senator and farmer.” The new program, it said, focuses on the life-long importance they have placed on conservation, farming, and the economic and human health of local communities. Thus, the partnership between The Berry Center and St. Catharine College is a natural fit, President Huston said.

According to Mary Berry Smith, daughter of Wendell Berry and executive director of The Berry Center, “It is our intention to bring awareness and solutions to the issues confronting farming families in Kentucky.”

St. Catharine College serves as Kentucky’s only Dominican college. Embedded within the mission, vision and ethos of the college are the Four Pillars of Dominican Life, which promote prayer, study, ministry and community as the means to engender mutual respect, care and concern for each other, all life and the Earth. Such stewardship, say the pillars, is actually the most sincere form of love.

And according to Wendell Berry, “We must love. And we must love what we do. So we should always ask, ‘What works does this love propose?'”

Wendell Berry has just been named the nation’s 41st Jefferson Lecturer in Humanities. The annual lecture, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), is the most prestigious honor the federal government bestows for distinguished intellectual achievement in the humanities. Berry will present the 41st Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities April 23 at 7:30 p.m. at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

In the lecture, “It All Turns on Affection,” Berry will discuss man’s interaction with nature, as depicted in history, philosophy, and literature.

For more information on the partnership between The Berry Center and St. Catharine College, or the degree program itself, please contact Mary Berry Smith, Executive Director of The Berry Center at 502-845-9200 or Dr. Don Giles, St. Catharine College’s Vice President for Academic Affairs at 859-336-5082.

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