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Professor Talks about Farms and Farmers in California

Joyce Kinkead, Professor of English, delivered an invited talk on the California State University-Fullerton campus on March 1, 2017, hosted by U-ACRE, the Urban Agriculture Community-Based Research Experience Program.

The author of Farm: A Multimodal Reader as well as the creator of English 3630, The Farm in Literature and Culture spoke about why Thomas Jefferson’s noble farmer is an enduring icon. “My title was ‘Up on the Farm’ as the really excellent title, ‘Farming is the New Sexy’ had already been used by my collaborator and colleague Evelyn Funda in her stellar TedX talk,” Kinkead joked.

Professor Kinkead used an Idaho spud and a purple fingerling potato to illustrate how farming practices are changing from monoculture to more diversity. “We think of our Idaho neighbors when we consider ‘Famous Potatoes,’” she said, but truly Peru, home to almost 5,0000 varieties and which began cultivation almost 8,000 years ago, lays claim to that title.” She also took off her shoes and showcased Farm to Feet socks to make the point about how Farm to Fork is just one of many marketing message being used to capitalize on romanticized notions of farms.

She closed with describing a bumper crop of books she terms chicken literature, romances that move the chick lit genre, like The Devil Wears Prada, to the farm in such titles as Locally Laid, about starting a chicken farm, or The Pioneer Woman: Trading Black Heels for Tractor Wheels.

The talk was located in the arboretum adjacent to the campus garden, which supplies vegetables to a local farm-to-table café.