2024 CSC Spring Convening: Farm Tours

Cumberland Seed Commons 2024 Farm Tours

Saturday April 20, 2024: 3-5 pm
Atrus Ballew Farm, Richmond, KY


Atrus Ballew Farm sits in the historic Concord community, an enclave of formerly enslaved African Americans in Madison County, KY. After the Civil War this rural community was actively involved in Black farmer, teacher, church and business cooperatives. During the 1900s the progressive activities of African Americans in Madison County who were organizers of “Colored Chautauqua” events attracted individuals such as W.E.B. DuBois, George Washington Carver, Ida B. Wells Barnett, Mary Church Terrell, and others to Richmond, Kentucky. These experiences are described in this essay: Ancestral Vibrations Guide our Connections to the Land

The Ballew family has had a long-term relationship with Berea College since it was founded by John Fee in 1855. Most Ballew family members were at Camp Nelson, an army camp for members of the USCT-US Colored troops. It was at Camp Nelson where John Fee was called to provide education for the soldiers, and their wives and children. Ballew family members were exposed to John Fee at this military camp and inspired to seek college education after the Civil War ended. In 1879 their great grandfather, DB Ballew, enrolled at Berea College as a student. Over the years, numerous other family members have also graduated from Berea College as did Carter G. Woodson and Naomi Tutu to name just a few.

Cousins Jim Embry and Tiffany El-Amin, as descendants of these agrarian intellectual activists, are the current caretakers of this family farm that was purchased in1889 from those who stole the land. Jim is also serving as the local coordinator for our Cumberland Seed Commons Spring Convening and welcomes the Cumberland Seed Commons network to his ¾ Century Birthday and Butterflies Celebration on April 20. Tiffany Belfield El-Amin has played a key role in the development of the Kentucky Black Farmer Association which is a sponsor of the Cumberland Seed Commons Spring Convening.

Sunday -April 21, 2024:
Berea College, Berea, KY – FARM / GARDEN TOURS

Near Scaffold Cane Road & S. Main Street
Berea, KY
201 Adams Street
Berea KY 40403


Berea College, the first interracial and coeducational college in the South has faced fierce opposition over the years, first from armed, pro-slavery militias to segregation imposed by the state legislature. The mission of the Forestry Outreach Center is to provide a space in which people of all ages can learn about the natural world and, specifically, the Berea College Forest. Using a model of community education in which each person participates as both a teacher and a learner, our hope is that the Center will act as a bridge between College and community, fostering an attitude of stewardship of the ecosystems and watersheds that sustain us! As a service, the Berea College Forestry Outreach Center offers interdisciplinary environmental education for school and community groups free of charge.

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Madison County is located in the bioregion that sits at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, is fed by the Kentucky River watershed, and is nourished by the soil heavenly mineralized with limestone rock. This region is the ancestral unceded homeland of these indigenous peoples: Tsalaguwetiyi (Cherokee, East), S’atsoyaha (Yuchi), Shawandasse Tula (Shawanwaki/Shawnee), Hopewell Culture, and Adena Culture land.