Something that farms and the university share is a strong sense of seasonality. The first week of May is the last week of our academic year and marked by a flurry of finals, move-out, and commencement. While we’re wrapping up the year and saying well-earned farewells to our graduates, our farmers markets are just starting to fill in with plant starts, tender greens, crisp stalks of asparagus, and richly hewed eggs from hens enjoying fresh spring pasture. We’re fortunate to have such easy connection to the seasons of the year - regularly reminded of the precious passing of time and prompted to reflect on what’s past and yet to come.

Quite honestly this year was a bit of a whirlwind, but a whirlwind that leaves your heart full, your mind buzzing with ideas and a to-do list that you’re excited to dive in to… after a quick breather to get your wits about you. I said a tearful thank you to Dr. Scott Smith at our Winter Open House for his service as our first Faculty Chair. I also shared an exuberant welcome to Dr. Leigh Maynard when he joined us in January as our new faculty chair and hit the ground running with new ideas and energy. We’ve enjoyed learning from our friends and colleagues at First Friday Breakfasts and our Food at Lunch forums. There have been too many delicious meals to count from Chef Tanya’s cooking classes and the generous and talented guest chefs who have donated their time and expertise to our community. Our senior extension associate, Bryan Brady, has traveled to dozens of farms to help them prepare to join our local food markets, and we’ve worked side by side with our partners at UK Dining to find new ways to bring Kentucky raised foods to campus.

Scott Smith Winter Welcome

Like an orchard tree that takes time to set its roots and branches, our third year allowed for growth, experimentation, and new connections. Growth also comes with challenges and occasional disappointments; a grant doesn’t come through, turnout for an event isn’t quite what you’d hoped for, or change doesn’t come as quickly as your eager heart desires. In those moment, I’m trying to learn from the trees in the orchard; trust your roots and the ecosystem that supports you, sway in the wind and look forward to the delight of tomorrow’s sun.

We’ll be keeping busy this summer, and I’m sure you will too. I’m excited to see Chef Tanya’s pilot program in Culinary Medicine and hear about the farms Bryan helps complete their food safety audits. I can barely contain my excitement for our upcoming Study Abroad program in France and Switzerland to learn about the unique regional food economies there. We’ll keep you all posted on our fun via social media, and hope you’ll do the same. We love to hear from our Food Connection family, and if you have any ideas or recommendations for us, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Pasta Cooking Class

Ever the ambitious optimist, I have high hopes for next year. New faces, new ideas, new programs to help further the growth of our local food system. I’ll save those stories for the fall. Until then, I hope a vibrant and rejuvenating summer stretches out before you. It will be a time of joyful business like all summers should be; that’s why we get extra hours of daytime to pack it all in!

May 1, 2018

Dr. Lilian Brislen
Executive Director, The Food Connection