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.
This year I am starting a new position in the Department of Anthropology at (THE!) Ohio State University. My hire is part of OSU’s Initiative for Food and Agricultural Transformation (InFACT), one of the many new Discovery Themes on campus. This initiative is recruiting dozens of new faculty who approach the study of food and agriculture from diverse disciplinary backgrounds, including anthropology, architecture, nutrition, political science, and public health, among others. I will continue to be working in the Amazon region (both in Peru and Brazil) and the American Midwest, focusing on farmer’s conservation management practices and adaptation to climate variability. I am also developing a new project that investigates the use of human waste (“biosolids” or “night soil”) in contemporary agriculture.