Knowledge is where you find it on farms and in the countryside, and a panel discussion at Kenyon College will explore “What Farmers Know” on Tuesday, February 11, at 11:10 a.m.
A local farmer, a trapper, and a large-animal veterinarian will join Judy Sacks, affiliated scholar in American studies at Kenyon, who will lead the conversation in Peirce Lounge at Peirce Hall.
“I’ve always been struck by the kinds of knowledge that farmers and rural people have,” Sacks said. “A lot of it is not book-learned. It takes place in the field and from experience. We want to get people together to talk about what they know from doing and what they learn from others. People are pretty generous with you about sharing this knowledge when it’s something you’re sincerely trying to learn.”
Sacks will be joined by Gambier trapper Jim Hull; maple syrup farmer Eric Dilts of Fredericktown, Ohio; and veterinarian and sheep farmer Greg Price of Mount Vernon, Ohio.
The event is part of a series of public forums, called Visits, which are planned in coming months by the Kenyon Rural Life Center. Each Visits event focuses on an issue important to the local culture and lifestyle and includes a panel discussion with area experts. The forums are coordinated by Howard Sacks, Rural Life Center director and professor of sociology.
“In today’s society we tend to associate expertise with trained professionals,” Howard Sacks said. “But much of what constitutes knowledge, much of what we know, is gained through experience. And it’s created and maintained by so-called lay people and it’s often transmitted across generations.
“Nowhere is that dynamic more evident than in farming. I know that when I first started to raise sheep, I knew nothing,” he said. “The knowledge I gained from other farmers and from people who came to sheer our sheep was absolutely essential to our eventual success.”
Local experts on this panel will “talk about what they know and how they know it and how it plays out in their lives,” he said. “This is an example of the larger phenomenon of folk lore and folk knowledge that exists in all aspects of rural life.”
Other programs that are part of this series include “Gun Culture and the Second Amendment,” on Tuesday, March 25, and “An Amish Sing,” on Tuesday, April 15. The events are free and the public is encouraged to attend. To learn more about Visits, visit Rurallife.kenyon.edu and call the Rural Life Center, 740-427-5850.