Executive Director, The Berry Center
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 from the time she was six years old. She attended Henry County public schools and graduated from the University of Kentucky in 1981. She farmed for a living in Henry County starting out in dairy farming, growing Burley tobacco, and later diversifying to organic vegetables, pastured poultry and grass-fed beef.
Mary is married to Trimble County, Kentucky farmer, Steve Smith, who started the first Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farming endeavor in the state of Kentucky. If daughters Katie Johnson, Virginia Aguilar and Tanya Smith choose to stay in Henry County, they will be the ninth generation of their family to live and farm there.
Mary currently serves on the Board of Directors of United Citizens Bank, in New Castle, Kentucky, and is on the board of directors of the Schumacher Center for a New Economics, in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. She speaks all over the country as a proponent of agriculture of the middle, in defense of small farmers, and in the hope of restoring a culture and an economy that has been lost in rural America. Recently she has written a letter for inclusion in the book, “Letters to a Young Farmer: On Food, Farming, and Our Future” (Princeton Agricultural Press, 2016), and the introduction for a new edition of essays, “Our Sustainable Table”, Robert Clark, ed. (Counterpoint, 2017).
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. John Berry, Sr. was a staunch advocate for small farmers and land conserving economies. His sons took up his work and have continued it. The Berry Center has now taken it up, and is focused on issues confronting small farming families in Kentucky and around the country. We are asking and trying to 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?” These questions are nowhere in the public discourse and yet the answers will go a long way in solving the most serious issues we now face. Our focus may shift because of need, but it will not move from what we believe to be the central issue of our time: the need for a healthy and sustainable agriculture in this country.