Grant recipients cultivate their research on organic permaculture
By KATHLEEN MURPHY
Compiling their summer research, Margaux Crider ’18 (Louisville, Kentucky) and Tyree Wilmoth ’18 (Asheville, North Carolina) will present a documentary of life on a Lanna organic farm in Thailand tonight in Centre College’s Vahlkamp Theatre.
Titled “Welcome to Happy Healing Home: A Portrait of a Lanna Family,” the documentary offers a glimpse into the life of a family and the challenges and joys that come from running an organic permaculture farm.
Organized through a series of interviews, viewers will gain an understanding of the interwoven nature of the family’s perspectives on religion, land and life.
Crider explained how one of the family members understood working on and with the land, seeing this as “a model for the rest of the world to spread happiness and healing through organic farming.”
With the help of a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation and support from Centre faculty, Crider and Wilmoth filmed this documentary in northern Thailand during the summer of 2017. A distinctive approach to presenting their research, they would like the documentary to connect their audience to the family’s experience in a way a written paper could not.
“The documentary format allows the people there to tell their own stories better than we ever could. It was the most authentic format,” Crider explains.
Additionally, the two students aimed to draw connections between the family’s life and the current situation in many parts of Kentucky.
“The documentary opens up questions about how this relates to rural Kentucky,” Wilmoth says. “We hope the audience appreciates their amazing way of life and how connected they are to the environment and what they do.”
Crider and Wilmoth also teamed up with Grace Café in Danville because of its similar mission to support food security.
“The similar challenges between the farm in Thailand and rural Kentucky lead us to pair up with Grace Café, because they have a model that helps Kentuckians in need,” Crider notes.
After the showing, Crider and Wilmoth will host a panel with a representative from Grace Café and Brett Werner, assistant professor of environmental studies and chair of the environmental studies program at Centre.
Both students plan to speak about how the images of poverty in American society and the average American’s relationship to food compare to those on the Thai permaculture farm.
“My experience in Thailand made me question what poverty looks like. The family did not have running water and many of the luxuries we have, but they are the happiest people we know,” Crider says.
“In our society we’re so separate from food, from growing and cooking,” Wilmoth added. “On the farm, they had a different respect for food, land and water.”
“Life is different here in Appalachia, because people are poor, but they are limited because of structural inequality and environmental degradation,” Crider continued.
“We want to discuss how we can apply this film in Kentucky and draw parallels between countries,” she concluded. “This is not a localized problem, it’s a global issue.”
IF YOU GO
A film screening for “Welcome to Happy Healing Home: A Portrait of a Lanna Family” will be 7 p.m. tonight in Vahlkamp Theatre at Centre College. A panel discussion will follow at 8 p.m. The event is open to the public at a “pay what you can” entrance.
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