I had the stimulating experience of heading to Miami University at Oxford, Ohio for the past few days. Professor Peggy Shaffer and her husband Ben Jacks are working to develop an Institute for Food as an interdisciplinary unit that engages the university, community, and broader region in the culture of food production and consumption across time and practice–obviously with a big-picture goal of teaching and encouraging healthful and sustainable food systems for the future.
The video does a good job of describing the local history and projects at the Austin-Magie Farm where the mission is underway. To further develop the vision and potential of the site, Peggy and Ben are busily building the path forward by securing grant funding. One of their successful submissions resulted in the weekend symposium/workshop that assembled about a dozen scholars from various disciplines and viewpoints to collaborate on the cultural heritage and public value of the Austin-Magie Farm at Miami University. Dozens of others from the university and community attended as well.
My part naturally involved apicultural possibilities, particularly in connection with the story of L. L. Langstroth (“inventor” of the movable-frame hive). Langstroth lived in an Oxford cottage for about thirty years, arriving soon after patenting his hive earlier in the 1850s. It would be great for them to share the Langstroth story, technological significance of the hive, and build the whole story into the actual practice of beekeeping at the farm (there aren’t any hives at the site yet). I actually had not visited the cottage previously, so it was a perk to have a reason to mark that achievement from my list of obligatory pilgrimages in the name of bee history. Here is the cottage and commemorative posting:
Ultimately the plan is to develop a digital map of the site that will permit its perusal and interpretation online–at least as a first step in the cultural build-out around the farm. There is massive potential, and I hope everything falls in place to help them make the most of the opportunity! I will try to remember to post again when there is more to see as a result of this “Agricultural Legacies/Rural Opportunities in Southwest Ohio” symposium.
The timing of the event was helpful–it was probably the last weekend I could be absent as the bee season has arrived. Two months of haste now commence.