Our History

The Berry Center is a foundation that has been established for the purpose of bringing focus, knowledge and cohesiveness to the work of changing our ruinous industrial agriculture system into a system and culture that uses nature as the standard, accepts no permanent damage to the ecosphere, and takes into consideration human health in local communities.

The Berry Center will accomplish its mission by studying where we have been, establishing where we are now and envisioning where we want to go in the rural landscape. When we consider these objectives, the remarkable accomplishments of three Kentuckians stand out. The works of author Wendell Berry, his father, lawyer and farmer John M. Berry, Sr., and his brother, state senator and lawyer, John M. Berry, Jr. reflect a single vision: a state and a nation of prosperous well-tended farms serving and supporting healthy local communities.

The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture by Wendell Berry was published in 1975. This book started a national and international conversation on the state of agriculture in our society.

Wendell Berry’s father, John M. Berry, Sr., was a farmer and lawyer in New Castle, Kentucky. As a country lawyer, as well as in the halls of the United States Congress, Mr. Berry worked tirelessly to bring prosperity to the tobacco farmers of the Burley Belt by being a founding member of the Burley Tobacco Growers Co-Op and establishing the tobacco program which offered tobacco farmers, for the first time ever, parity in the marketplace.

John M. Berry, Jr. is a Henry County, Kentucky farmer and lawyer. During a distinguished career in the Kentucky legislature from 1974 – 1982 he spoke, wrote and legislated in support of farmers and the environment.

The speeches, letters, manuscripts and articles of these men, especially as they pertain to agriculture in the state of Kentucky and the nation, will be catalogued and archived by the Berry Center for research purposes.

The work of educating young farmers will be advanced by a collaboration between The Berry Center and St. Catharine College, a liberal arts college in Springfield, Kentucky, to pilot a small farm agricultural degree.

The Berry Center will promote the vital connection between urban centers and the rural communities that surround them by collaborating closely and working actively alongside entities and institutions with the same or complementary goals.

Through archiving, research, collaboration and education we hope to be able to affect the future and realize our vision of prosperity and well-being in the rural and urban landscapes of Kentucky and the nation.