A keynote conversation with Mary Berry, Executive Director of the Berry Center, and Matthew Derr, President of Sterling College, moderated by Vermont author John Elder.
The Berry Center Executive Director Mary Berry and her brother, Den Berry, were raised by their parents, Wendell and Tanya Berry, at Lanes Landing Farm in Henry County, Kentucky. Mary farmed for a living, starting out in dairy farming, growing Burley tobacco, and later diversifying to organic vegetables, pastured poultry and grassfed beef. Mary is married to Kentucky farmer, Steve Smith, who started the first Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in the state of Kentucky. The Berry Center was started in 2011 to continue the agricultural work of John Berry, Sr. and his sons Wendell Berry and John Berry, Jr. The Berry Center is focused on issues confronting small farming families in Kentucky and around the country. The Berry Center's central mission is "to ask and answer two of the most essential questions of our time: 'What will it take for farmers to be able to afford to farm well?' and 'How do we become a culture that will support good land use?'" In 2017, the Berry Center created a partnership with Sterling College in Craftsbury, VT to enable the Berry Center to advance their work through an accredited education program.
Onika Abraham is the Director of Farm School NYC, whose mission is to train local residents in urban agriculture in order to build self-reliant communities and inspire positive local action around food access and social, economic, and racial justice issues. Onika is a farmer and an educator with more than 15 years of experience as a senior nonprofit manager and an MBA in marketing and entrepreneurship from City University of New York. A Farm School NYC teacher before she was the Director, Onika has always been drawn to growing and teaching.
Onika is one of the co-founders of Black Urban Growers and has helped organize three national Black Farmers and Urban Gardeners Conferences. Her commitment to this work continues in her efforts to recruit Farm School NYC students that reflect the diversity of New York City, especially those from low resource and socially disadvantaged communities, and help them achieve their professional farming goals.