Last Friday and Saturday, we hosted a workshop that invited students, faculty, and staff from Ohio State (as well as new friends from Kenyon College) to learn about Mayan milpa agriculture (maize farming) and reflect on how it may serve as a model for rethinking farming here in Ohio. We were very fortunate to have Abraham Kan, a guest from Aguacate village in the Toledo District of Belize, to lead us in planting a milpa at the OSU Student Farm with an array of different landraces of corn, from Oaxacan Green Dent Corn and Blue Jade Sweet Corn to Tom Thumb popcorn. From the beginning, we wanted the workshop to help encourage conversations and experiments in different types of agriculture in the OSU community. We hope the milpa is a step in that direction.
On Tuesday afternoon at the American Anthropological Association Meeting, I had the opportunity to participate as discussant on a panel that focused on sedimentation as a social analytic. The papers examined accretions of volatile toxic forms in human bodies, the sedimented legacies of settler colonial experience, and emergent legal and political-economic frameworks that shape the livelihoods of farmers in Mozambique, Brazil, and the Galapagos. You can find my brief essay here.
Last week, we printed off the first zine produced by the Culture & Agriculture section of the American Anthropological Association (AAA). It’s a collaborative effort with essays, art, and conversations on the history, making, and sharing of mead (honey wine). A special shout-out goes to Jon Tanis who handled the orchestration and assemblage, and really made the thing come alive.
We’re eager to get the zine into your hands, and we will have print copies available at the AAA Annual Meeting in Washington D.C. this November. We’d also love for you to check out the “Cultures of Fermentation” roundtable that Jim Veteto and I organized for the AAA meeting, which will be held Saturday, Dec. 2nd at 10:15 AM. The zine will be there and you might even be able to sample some meads with us.
You can find electronic versions of the zine (in both reader and print formats) on the C&A website if you who want to take a sneak peak or even print out some copies of your own. Feel free to distribute it and let us know what you think!
One of the projects I’ve been really happy to collaborate on here at Ohio State is the “Pop Garden” outside of Smith Laboratory, where my office is located. A new club on campus named GrOSU designed the garden and planted it with amaranth, popcorn, millet, and sorghum–all crops that can be“popped” and eaten. We were also very lucky to receive a donation of Com-Til – a nutrient-rich compost made from yard and sanitation wastes – from the City of Columbus. So who fertilized the pop garden? If you live in Columbus, it just may have been you.
In the latest of issue of Edible Columbus, you can find an interview with me discussing the importance of microbial life for soil health, the benefits of night soil for agricultural production, and the need for building local models that can help us to contend with global climate change. Thanks again to Colleen Leonardi for the invitation. You can read it here.
I just published a short blog post for Ohio State’s Initiative for Food and Agricultural Transformation (InFACT), which discusses my new research on the use of biosolids (i.e. treated sanitation sludge) in Midwestern agricultural landscapes.