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 the University of Kentucky from which she graduated in 1981. She has spent her adult life farming 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.
In addition to working on the farm and raising three children, she catered the events at her winery, both private and public, from 2002 until 2011.
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, was appointed by President Obama to serve on Kentucky’s Farm Service Agency State Board, and is on the board of directors of the Schumacher Center for a New Economics in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. She writes for the periodical, Edible Louisville and 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 that has been lost in rural America.
Toward these ends, in 2011 Mary established The Berry Center, in New Castle, Kentucky, to serve as a repository for the study of small farm agriculture in our state and for the purpose of archiving and preserving the work of her uncle, former State Senator John M. Berry, Jr., her grandfather, the late John M. Berry, Sr. and her father, Wendell Berry.
The Berry Center sponsored the 2013 conference, “From Unsettling to Resettling: What Will it Take to Resettle America?” to celebrate the 35thanniversary of the publication of her father’s seminal work, “The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture”. The Center has collaborated with St. Catharine College in Springfield, Kentucky to establish a 4-year degree in farming and agro-ecology – The Berry Farming and Ecological Agrarianism Program – which enrolled students for the first time in the fall of 2013.
The Berry Center exists to ensure a healthy countryside populated by prosperous farmers on well-tended farms. The focus of the work at the Center is on land use, farm policy, farmer education, urban education about farming, and local food infrastructure. The goal is to establish within the Commonwealth of Kentucky a national model of urban-rural connectedness.