WKU Pathways to Sustainability Conference

WKU to host free Sustainability Fest

Posted 4 days ago

People interested in “slow” rather than fast food or in how to create a “food forest” – both current sustainability efforts – can attend a free festival in Bowling Green next week.

The “Pathways to Sustainability Festival,” hosted by Western Kentucky University, is scheduled Friday and April 18. Events will be at Downing Student Union, Room 3020; Corsair Distillery, 400 E. Main Ave.; and the new Baker Community Garden, 150 Guinn Court.

John All, WKU associate professor of geography, said that the festival – a precursor to Earth Day 2015 on April 22 – is a chance to check out new sustainability initiatives locally and across the nation.

For example, a “food forest” is created when like items are planted together in a confined area, such as a cherry tree, blackberry bushes, lettuce and potatoes, All explained. The key is putting together items that can survive together.

All said people are becoming more aware of the need to preserve resources, but they still aren’t familiar with the successful strategies available.

“We have begun to recognize the need, but the how is lacking. On Friday, we will look at the theoretical, and then on Saturday, we will get our hands in the dirt,” All said.

Organizers signed up guest speakers well known in sustainability circles, such as Jeff Poppen, also known as “the Barefoot Farmer,” a local food and agricultural biodynamics expert who lives in Tennessee; Bernie Ellis, who has been working with development of Tennessee’s medical marijuana legislation; and local artist Andee Rudloff.

There will be presentations and a roundtable discussion from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday at DSU. Speakers include Christian Ryan, WKU sustainability coordinator; All, who has an extensive background in environmental planning; Rhondell Miller of HOTEL INC; and Laura Goodwin of Slow Food Bowling Green.

The slow food movement in America is an effort to teach people how to appreciate a more relaxed pace of dining, All said.

Slow food works in concert with the locally grown food movement. WKU recently joined a locally grown food project where local growers provide fresh food to the university and the Fresh Food Company dining facility on campus.

“There are a lot of new initiatives in local food, community gardens and farmers markets in town,” All said. “This will be hands-on learning.”

From 6:30 to 9 p.m. Friday evening, Ellis will speak at Corsair Distillery, followed by distillery tours and music. On Saturday, Poppen will be part of a full day of hands-on workshops from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Baker Community Garden.

WKU Office of Sustainability is one of the sponsors. Other sponsors include Baker Arboretum, Slow Food Bowling Green, Corsair Distillery, the WKU Institute for Citizenship and Social Responsibility, and the WKU Master of Arts in Social Responsibility and Sustainable Communities. The WKU M.A. degree is an interdisciplinary program of study that provides students with tools to lead communities toward social justice and sustainability, according to the WKU website. It is designed especially for students inclined toward the humanities, social sciences and related fields, the website noted.

The Barefoot Farmer has quite a following, All said.

For the past 15 years Poppen has appeared on Nashville PBS’ television program “Volunteer Gardener,” and, for over 20 years, he has written a gardening column for the Macon County Chronicle, according to his website.

Poppen is the author of two books, “The Best of the Barefoot Farmer” Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. He runs a Community Supported Agriculture program with the food he grows using about 8 acres of his farmland at Long Hungry Creek Farm in rural Tennessee and has about 40 head of cattle.

All said Poppen has subsisted on his own farm-grown food for about 40 years.

Ellis this week saw committees in the House and Senate of the Tennessee Legislature delay until 2016 a bill to legalize marijuana for limited medicinal purposes. He and others have worked over at least the last two years to convince lawmakers there to pass the legislation.

All said the festival has commitments from at least 50 people; however, up to 100 could attend.

“We want to show people what they can do for themselves,” All said.

Pathways to Sustainability Schedule

Friday, April 17th Western Kentucky University
Downing Student Union, President’s Room 3020

10:00am Laura Goodwin Welcome & Slow Food
10:15am Rhondell Miller Community Gardens & Community Development
10:45am Christian Ryan Building Sustainability & Resiliency at WKU
11:15am Lunch at FRESH provided by the Anthropocene Research Group
11:30am Round Table Discussion:
“Responding to the Anthropocene: Moving from sustainability to resilience.”
Lunch will be provided at Fresh Foods in Downing Student Union for those participating in the World Café Model round table discussion. The World Café Model will foster conversations in a relaxed, informal, and creative atmosphere aimed at producing ideas and knowledge about resilience that can be put into practice.


Wolfgang Brauner
John All
Fred Siewers
Christian Ryan
Molly Beth Kerby
Gayle Mallinger

1:00pm Albert Meier The Science of Permaculture
1:30pm John All Intentional Communities
2:00pm Blake Layne Mead Production
2:30pm Taylor Hutchison Simple Computer Tools for Farming

Friday, April 17th Corsair Distillery, 400 E. Main Street, BG, KY 42101
6:00pm Gather at Corsair Distillery
6:30pm-7:35pm Bernie Ellis
7:45pm-8:45pm Tours of the Distillery and Tastings
7:45-9pm Music by Dead Broke Barons
Saturday, April 18th Baker Community Garden
9:00am Welcome & Introductions
9:10am Andee Rudloff Community Art Project
9:30am Mark Whitley Tiny House Talk
10:00am Jeff Poppen History of Farming and Biodynamics
11:30-12:30 Lunch on your own and Art Project Fun
12:30pm Dr. Martin Stone Grafting Demo
1:00 WKU Beekeepers
1:30pm Jeff Poppen Soils, Minerals, Preparations, Q & A
3:30 David Garvin Trees for Life Ceremony

4:00-?? Drum Circle

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