Home 9 Initiatives 9 The Berry Center Farm And Forest Institute

“The complexity of our present trouble suggests as never before that we need to change our present concept of education. … Its proper use is to enable citizens to live lives that are economically, politically, socially, and culturally responsible.”
—Wendell Berry, Thoughts In The Presence Of Fear

Farming Education From The Ground Up

Established in 2012, The Berry Center Farm and Forest Institute provides future farmers with an education in agrarian thought and practice that is holistic and place-based. Our curriculum applies Wendell Berry’s writing to learning – and is designed to serve students from generational farm families, rural communities, and urban agrarians around the nation.

Human-Scale Farming Education

When Wendell Berry published The Unsettling of America in 1977, he spurred a broad-ranging conversation about the industrial-designed crisis that has led to “staggering losses of both farmers and land.” The Berry Center Farming Institute was founded in 2012 in Henry County, Kentucky, because we must keep farmers farming. And we must have more farmers who have more farmers who can afford to farm well. 

To meet this need, The  Berry Center Farm and Forest Institute provides early career and experienced farmers approaches to agriculture and forestry that are economically viable and rooted in place. In Fall 2023, the Farm and Forest Institute will begin offering community field days and continuing education workshops and short courses at its 200-acre farm and forest. Courses cover: 

  1. livestock on grass production

  2. low-impact forestry

  3. agrarian thought and leadership 

These sessions draw on the legacy and learning of the Berry family, as well as the writers, farmers, researchers, and community members who inform that legacy.  Classes feature The Berry Center’s programs: Our Home Place Meat, The Agrarian Library and Archive, and the Agrarian Culture Center. Together, this curriculum provides the skills for working with nature. Students learn to apply these skills in their home places.

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    Aguilar - WBFP Fall 18 Exports (99 of 166)
    Farming program students enjoying a guest lecture by The Berry Center executive director Mary Berry.
    Students attend to draft oxen Bright and Lion after putting up hay for the Winter.
    Professor Rick Thomas reviewing the finer points of limbing fallen timber.
    Farming program student bucking cedar logs with draft horses during winter forestry intensive.
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    The Wendell Berry Farming Program of Sterling College is unique because it gives young farmers like me the opportunity to get hands-on experience with ecology-based agriculture from teachers who are just as passionate as I am.

    Amelia Zenerino

    Wendell Berry Farming Program Of Sterling College Student - Class of 2021


    Garden And Gun

    Now Enrolling: The Wendell Berry Farm School

    A new Kentucky-based program puts the work of the renowned writer at the center of a college curriculum—and it’s tuition free.

     Click Here To Read More At Garden And Gun

    Southern Living

    Kentucky’s Wendell Berry Farm School Will Be Tuition Free

    Farming has been a part of Southern life since the first time a cotton seed or peanut fell into the rich soil. However, as the world has grown and modernized and the work landscape has changed, fewer Southerners are seeing farming as a career choice. A new program in Kentucky is working to change that one farmer at a time—and the program is tuition free.  

    Click Here To Read More At Southern Living

    The Lexington Herald-Leader

    A Day On The Farm With Wendell Berry’s Draft Horses

    The Berry Center’s Wendell Berry Farming Program has partnered with Sterling College, an environmental school in Vermont.

     Click Here To Read More At The Lexington Herald-Leader

    Support The Berry Center

    Years Of History

    Preserved in The Archive Of The Berry Center, informing agrarian thought and practice, helping to chart a way forward for sustainable farming and rural prosperity.

    Young Farmers

    Working towards a full-time, tuition-free sustainable farming degree right here in Henry County, Kentucky, in our Wendell Berry Farming Program of Sterling College

    Agrarian Books

    Distributed by the Agrarian Literary League, a nationally recognized adult rural reading program from the Agrarian Culture Center and Bookstore at The Berry Center

    Acres conserved

    By Our Home Place Meat farmers, raising and processing the best livestock locally and humanely in a program based on the Burley tobacco cooperative model.

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