THERE is a Lecture at this Farm once a month, at 7:30 pm. All attendees are welcome to PICNIC at the Farm from 6 o’clock until ten minutes before the lecture begins. Free pizza from the farm garden is provided until it runs out. The course for the present season, as far as ascertained, is as follows:
Thursday, July 28, 2022 (Introductory) —Josh Mabie, “In Wisconsin, Your Local Wine Is Cider”
While Wisconsin lacks the climate and the soil to produce good wine, our state has a long tradition of growing great apples, and a few cideries have started making some really good ciders. Cider has experienced a bit of a renaissance in the last decade or so, but the language we use to describe it hasn’t really kept pace with the growth and improvement of the ciders that are now available to us. In contrast to the rich and relatively stable vocabulary we have at our disposal for beer and wine , cider generally remains just “the cider” in bars and at restaurant tables. This Lyceum talk looks back to the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to understand what happened to American cider and how the language to describe has been lost. It also proposes ways that farmers, cider makers, and cider drinkers might invent new cider traditions and language.
Josh runs Pied Beauty farm with his wife Kerstin. He also teaches English and environmental studies at UW-Whitewater.
Thursday, August 11, 2022 — Sarah Dimmick, “Climate Arrhythmias”
Sarah is Assistant Professor of English at Harvard where she researches contemporary global literature, environmental justice, and climate fiction. Her Lyceum talk will present portions of her forthcoming book Unseasonable: Climate Arrhythmias in Global Literature.
Thursday, September 8, 2022 — Marjorie Rhine, “Meandering in Lake Mendota’s Ecoscapes”
Marjorie is a professor of English at UW-Whitewater where she teaches world literature and Japanese. Her Lyceum talk will present a portion of the book she’s writing about her recent explorations of the deep cultural and environmental history of Lake Mendota.
Thursday, September 22, 2022 —Drew Hutchinson, “What I Think About When I Think About Bread”
Drew is the owner of and head baker at Madison Sourdough where he makes naturally leavened bread from sourdough starter and Viennoiserie French pastries from local ingredients. Drew mills unique and local grains in the bakery. He was recently featured in an episode of Around the Farm Table (check out his segment at the 10 minute mark) focused on the prospects of the perennial grain Kernza. Drew has taught hundreds of people how to make bread as an instructor at Madison College and through his bread making for the home baker classes.
October Date TBA — Jeff Kollath
Jeff is a historian of twentieth-century American music and the executive director of the Stax Museum of American Soul Music in Memphis. He has written about connections between the Civil Rights Movement, soul, and funk. For Jeff’s talk, we will temporarily suspend the Lyceum’s usual prohibition on audio visual aids, because Jeff is probably going to bring some old records with him from Memphis.
If the weather is nice, we’ll picnic on the lawn in front of the barn. If we have rain, we can eat in the barn. We have a couple big tables for family-style picnicking, but if we run out of chairs and table space, we’d be grateful if people brought a blanket for the lawn. We always serve free pizza, but you are always welcome to bring your own picnic to supplement. If you have lawn or folding chairs, we’d encourage you to bring them for the picnic and talk. We happily take your paper packaging and vegetable food waste for our compost pile, but it will help us if you bring a bag to take your recyclables home.
About the Lyceum
The Lyceum is a series of monthly picnics and lectures at Pied Beauty Farm. With this series, we aim to organize a place where expert speakers spark interesting conversations about farming, food, environmental sustainability, and justice.
The name and inspiration for our Lyceum comes from the nineteenth-century Lyceums started by Connecticut farmer, schoolteacher, and scholar Josiah Holbrook. Holbrook believed that broad engagement with science, arts, letters, history, and philosophy could transform the young American republic, so he traveled around the country encouraging small towns to start lecture halls and laboratories where ordinary people could encounter extraordinary ideas. His Lyceum movement was wildly successful. Within just four years of convincing the citizens of Millbury, Massachusetts to start the first Lyceum in 1827, Holbrook encouraged 900 other towns to start their own.
Thoreau, Emerson, and Twain all tried out early drafts of some of their most famous works on the Lyceum circuit. For just two bucks you could have heard this 1842-1843 lineup at the Concord Lyceum. Ours is free, but it includes neither Emerson nor Thoreau.
Past Seasons — 2019
Thursday, May 23 (Introductory) — Josh Mabie, “Barn: An Agricultural History and a Manifesto”
Our barn has been used as a threshing floor, a dairy barn, a machine shed, a boat storage, and now a concert and lecture hall (with a bouldering wall in one back corner). My talk will use the barn where the Lyceum is held to reckon with the uneven past and uncertain future of small Wisconsin farms.
Thursday, June 6 — Cindy Crosby, “The Tallgrass Prairie: A Conversation”
Author of Chasing Dragonflies: A Natural and Cultural History (forthcoming 2020), Tallgrass Conversations: In Search of the Prairie Spirit (April 2019), and The Tallgrass Prairie: An Introduction
Thursday, July 18 — Kieran Furlong, “Technology and the Small Farmer”
Kieran grew up in a farming community in County Wexford, Ireland. Since moving to the U.S., he has been involved in several biotech and agriculture startups. Now he works at the UW’s Discovery to Product center helping researchers bring ideas and innovations to market. Kieran’s Lyceum talk will present ways that small farms can use technology to thrive.
Thursday, August 1 — Jeffrey Bilbro, “Wendell Berry and Environmental Hope”
Author of Virtues of Renewal: Wendell Berry’s Sustainable Forms (2018), Wendell Berry and Higher Education (2017)
Thursday, September 12 — Barrett Swanson, “The Soldier and the Soil”
Barrett’s writing has appeared in, among other places, The New Yorker, Harpers, The Paris Review, Orion, Best American Nonrequired Reading, and Best American Essays
Thursday, October 3 — Tiffany Eberle Kriner, “Field: A Report from Root & Sky Farm”
May 10, 2018 (Introductory) Josh Mabie
“Can Farming Save the World?”
Probably not, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying. In the mid-nineteenth century, hundreds of New Englanders started and joined Utopian farms to combat the social ills they saw corrupting the American republic. Most of these farms fell short of the ambitious ideals they staked out. Many of them dissolved in bankruptcy or interpersonal squabbling. A few changed the way we think about the environment, our neighbors, and what a farm can be. This season’s introductory Lyceum talk will look at one of the most famous of these Utopian farming experiments: George and Sophia Ripley’s Brook Farm. The talk will consider the Ripley’s successes as inspiration and their failure as a cautionary tale for twenty-first century idealists and farmers.
June 14, 2018 Daegan Miller
“In Praise of Trespassing: or, Some Thoughts on the Value of Non-Connection”
July 26, 2018 Heather Swan
August 23, 2018 Jennifer Jordan **Rescheduled for October 18**
We have had to cancel Jennifer’s August 23 talk, but we have rescheduled it for Thursday, October 18. Come join us for an Oktoberfest-themed picnic and talk about Wisconsin hops!
September 13, 2018 Asmahan Sallah
October 18, 2018 Jennifer Jordan
We are so excited to welcome Dr. Jennifer Jordan to the farm for a talk about the history of Wisconsin brewing and hop cultivation. We’ve rescheduled her talk from September; in so doing, we’ve traded mosquitos for starlight, sweltering heat for a crisp fall night. It’ll be an Oktoberfest picnic and a beer talk. Come join the fun!
Dr. Jordan will join us to present portions of the new book she is working on called Before Craft Beer: The Lost Landscapes of Forgotten Hops. If you ask really nicely, I bet she would also take some questions about her first book Edible Memory: The Lure of Heirloom Tomatoes and Other Forgotten Foods.