Birdsong Like a Canopy

Beauty, Art & Ecology


April 5-6, 2024

In Oldtown, Rock Hill, South Carolina
"The river will run clear,
as we will never know it,
and over it, birdsong like a canopy."

—Wendell Berry

Our Spring 2024 forum will explore the values of Generosity, Wonder, and Craft as they relate to a grateful engagement with nature and agriculture.

Through lectures, workshops, visual art, and shared meals, we hope to foster a deeper wonder of the natural world and equip the community in creative stewardship.



3:30-5:30 PM

Forum Check-in

@ the Gettys Center - foyer

6 PM

Evening Session

Welcome & Opening Remarks from Kirk Irwin

Film screening: “Look & See” A Portrait of Wendell Berry
- by Two Birds Films

Short Film screening
- curated by Bakita Arts

@ the Mercantile - upstairs



9 AM


(included with Entire Forum
& Saturday AM tickets)


Handmade Biscuits, Whipped Butters, Preserves & Candied Bacon
—by David Applegate

@ the Gettys Center - Courtroom

9:30 AM

Morning Session

Maurice Manning

Wesley Vander Lugt

@ the Gettys Center - Courtroom


LUNCH (on your own)


1:30 PM

Afternoon Session

1:30-4:30 PM

Workshop | Maurice Manning

Poetry Writing Workshop

(separate ticket)

@ the Gettys Center - Petit Jury Room

1:30-2:15 PM

Seminar | Wesley Vander Lugt

Kinship Plot and Cultivating a Resonant Relationship with the Land 

@ the Center for the Arts - Dalton Gallery

1:30-2:15 PM

Seminar | Mimi Prunella Hernandez

Nine Favorite Herbs

@ the Gettys Center - Courtroom

2:30-4 PM

Workshop | Matthew Dickerson

Nature Writing Workshop
Narrative Non-Fiction Prose

@ the Center for the Arts - Dalton Gallery

3:30-5:30 PM

BREAK / Book Tables / Seed Swap! - Please bring seeds to swap with others

@ the Gettys Center - Foyer

6 PM

 Evening Session

6 PM

(included with Entire Forum & Saturday PM tickets)


Beef Bourguignon, Vegetable Cassoulet with Gruyère, Whipped garlic mashed potatoes, Slivered Brussels sprouts, Bistro salad in a champagne dressing, Accompaniments
—by Craig Morrow, Live Fire Feasts

Matthew Dickerson

Doug Tallamy


@ the Gettys Center - Courtroom



Look & See

Included in the weekend will be a special screening of the award winning documentary film by Two Birds Films—Look & See: A Portrait of Wendell Berry. Look & See is a cinematic portrait of the changing landscapes and shifting values of rural America in the era of industrial agriculture, as seen through the mind’s eye of writer, farmer, and activist, Wendell Berry. In 1965, Berry returned to his home in Henry County, Kentucky and began a life of farming, writing and teaching. “When we make our art we are also making our lives, and I am sure that the reverse is equally true.”—Wendell Berry, Imagination in Place
Two Birds Films

Film Screening


April 5, 2023


The Mercantile in Rock Hill, SC




Forum Events

Online ticket sales end on Apr 5, 2024 | Tickets will be available at the door for additional cost

general admission tickets



Includes all events on Friday and Saturday (except the Maurice Manning workshop). Breakfast & dinner are included (lunch on your own).



Access to Saturday AM content as well as breakfast and one seminar on Saturday afternoon (excluding Maurice Manning workshop)



Access to Saturday PM content as well as dinner and one seminar on Saturday afternoon (excluding Maurice Manning workshop)

student tickets

(must have current student ID)



This includes attendance for any/all events on Friday and Saturday (except the Maurice Manning workshop), as well as breakfast and dinner (lunch on your own). Please have Student ID ready.

student SATURDAY AM (only)


Access to Saturday AM content as well as breakfast and one seminar on Saturday afternoon (excluding Maurice Manning workshop). Please have student ID ready.

student SATURDAY PM (only)


Access to Saturday PM content as well as breakfast and one seminar on Saturday afternoon (excluding Maurice Manning workshop). Please have student ID ready.


Writing Workshop

1:30 PM @ the Gettys Center – Petit Jury Room



Poet Maurice Manning will be leading a 3-hour workshop on writing poetry on Saturday afternoon. Space will be limited for this event.

Tickets for this workshop are separate — not included in the Forum ticket price.

Seed Swap
Bring seeds to swap with us on Saturday!

3:30 PM @ the Gettys Center Foyer

Speakers & Contributors


Scholar & Writer


Garden Club of America Medal for Conservation Recipient

Professor of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Delaware



Doug Tallamy is the T. A. Baker Professor of Agriculture in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, where he has authored 106 research publications and has taught insect-related courses for 41 years. Chief among his research goals is to better understand the many ways insects interact with plants and how such interactions determine the diversity of animal communities. His book Bringing Nature Home was published by Timber Press in 2007, The Living Landscape, co-authored with Rick Darke, was published in 2014; Nature’s Best Hope, a New York Times bestseller, was released in February 2020, and his latest book, The Nature of Oaks, was released in March 2021. His awards include recognition from The Garden Writer’s Association, Audubon, The National Wildlife Federation, Western Carolina University, The Garden Club of America, and The American Horticultural Association. Doug lives with his wife, Cindy, on their restored property in Oxford, PA.


Scholar & Poet

Pulitzer finalist for Poetry in 2011 Professor of English, Transylvania University

Writing Workshop


Poetry Writing Workshop

Poet Maurice Manning will be leading a 3-hour workshop on writing poetry on Saturday afternoon.

Spend three hours with a Pulitizer nominated poet learning how to write or improve your poetry writing skills. Through exercises and critique, Maurice Manning will lead you through a series of principles that will take you from a concept to a place of expressing it poetically. Maurice’s years of experience and writing are brought to bear creating an opportunity for the attending writers to grow in their skill of writing poetry.

Space will be limited for this event.

Maurice Manning has published eight collections of poetry, the most recent being Snakedoctor (2023). His first book, Lawrence Booth’s Book of Visions (2001), was selected by W.S. Merwin for the Yale Series of Younger Poets. His fourth book, The Common Man (2010), was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His poems have been published in various journals and magazines, including Southern Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, New Yorker, and Time. He and producer Steve Cody have also published ten episodes of The Grinnin’ Possum Podcast, featuring original poetry, old-time music, and history. Manning teaches at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky, and for the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers in Swannanoa, North Carolina.


Scholar & Writer

Professor, Middlebury College in Vermont

Nature Writing Workshop


Narrative Non-Fiction Prose

Wendell Berry, in his essay “A Native Hill”, wrote “It is the privilege and the labor of the apprentice of creation to come with his imagination into the unimaginable, and with his speech into the unspeakable.” This workshop will explore narrative non-fiction nature writing, and the effort to bring our imagination into the unimaginable world, and to find written words for the unspeakable. We will explore nature writing as both a craft (that is, we will explore the craft of nature writing) and a spiritual exercise.

Author Matthew Dickerson has served as artist-in-residence for Glacier National Park, Acadia National Park, and Alaska State Parks and was also selected to be the Spring Creek Project Environmental Writer In Residence at the Cabin on Shotpouch Creek. His essays have appeared in Written River, The Other Journal, Creation Care, and elsewhere. He has also published six books of narrative non-fiction about rivers, river ecology, nature, and native fish—sometimes through the narrative lens of fly fishing.


Herbalist & Author

Executive Director of the American Herbalists Guild



Nine Favorite Herbs

Join us on an enchanting exploration of herbal wonders in “A Journey through the National Geographic Herbal.” Mimi lovingly introduces nine favorite herbs from her book, each revealing a unique facet of herbal wisdom. Embark on a sensory adventure, as we delve into the world of herbs and unlock their magic. Beginning with the bodily sensations they evoke, we then venture into the heart of the home, discovering nourishing inspirations from the kitchen and apothecary. Next, we tread the garden path, forging alliances with herbal allies and discovering the hidden potential of common weeds. Our journey expands to the vast forest, where we explore the community uses of herbs and their profound impact. Finally, we traverse the globe, uncovering the fascinating history and commercial significance of renowned herbs. Join us as we acquaint ourselves with the remarkable Peach Leaf, Prickly Pear Cactus, Sumac Berry, Sunflower, Self-heal, Kudzu, Saw Palmetto, Damiana, and Rooibos. Prepare to be captivated by the rich tapestry of herbal knowledge that awaits.

Mimi Prunella Hernandez is an herbalist and author of the National Geographic Herbal. For over a decade, Mimi served as the executive director of the American Herbalists Guild, where she has worked tirelessly to ensure that herbalists have a strong professional community to support their work. In 2023, Mimi received a Botanical Excellence Award from the American Botanical Council, a prestigious honor that recognizes her as a Mark Blumenthal Herbal Community Builder.

Mimi Prunella Hernandez, M.S., R.H. (AHG), is a clinical herbalist with a master’s degree in herbal medicine. As a Registered Herbalist with the American Herbalists Guild, she has mentored students in clinical and community herbalism through various educational platforms. Mimi is known for her ability to explain complex information in a relatable way, which has gained her a dedicated following. Her warm and approachable nature has made her a sought-after speaker at conferences and events.

Mimi’s volunteer work inspires plant sanctuary dreamers. She not only strives to ensure the continued availability of native and medicinal plants but also educates others about their importance and traditional uses. With her husband Terry she stewards The PonderLand Native Plant Sanctuary and inspires others to consider establishing plant sanctuaries in their communities.

Mimi’s herbal roots are inspired by her Colombian and Mexican Grandmothers via a Latin American Folk Herbalism and Curanderismo lineage. While Mimi finds immense joy in practicing kitchen herbalism, she finds tremendous fulfillment in delivering herbal house calls. She loves delivering baskets filled with homemade nourishing goodies, using the herbs she grows in her garden to provide natural remedies to those in need.

Her greatest joy is tending to her 3 children, AnaÏs, Evan, and Talan, and several pets, alongside her husband Terry.


Scholar & Writer

Co-Founder of Kinship Plot

Acting Director of the Leighton Ford Center for Theology, the Arts, and Gospel Witness


Kinship Plot and Cultivating a Resonant Relationship with the Land

Explore the power of attentiveness, naming, imagination, and story for equipping you to live intentionally and sustainably in a particular place. We’ll be learning about the work of Kinship Plot and how to apply similar practices in your own place of residence and beyond.


Wes is a pastor, theologian, writer, educator, nonprofit leader, and arts advocate with a passion for beauty, slowness, cultivation, kinship, and theodramatics.

Wes currently works as the Acting Director of the Leighton Ford Center for Theology, the Arts, and Gospel Witness and Adjunct Professor of Theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Charlotte. He is also the Co-Founder of Kinship Plot, a community of learning and practice imagining and embodying resonant relationships of every kind. Previous to these roles, Wes served with a variety of ministry teams in Saint Louis, Mexico City, St Andrews, and Charlotte, including eight years as lead pastor of Warehouse 242.

Wes holds a PhD in Theology, Imagination, and the Arts from the University of St Andrews and enjoys writing and speaking on a variety of topics including beauty, spiritual formation and the arts, discipleship in the theodrama, slow faith, pastoral ministry, kinship, and creativity. His publications include Living Theodrama: Reimagining Theological Ethics (Routledge, 2014), Theatrical Theology: Explorations in Performing the Faith (Cascade, 2014), and Beauty is Oxygen: Finding a Faith that Breathes (Eerdmans, 2024).


Artist &
Barbecue Provocateur/Caterer

Proprietor Live Fire Feasts Presenting our Saturday night Feast!

Dinner Maestro


Beef Bourguignon
Vegetable Cassoulet with Gruyère
Whipped garlic mashed potatoes
Slivered Brussels sprouts
Bistro salad in a champagne dressing




Craig Morrow, the padawan of the famous Dan the Pig Man, has been bringing the funk and live fire mischief to the Charlotte area for several years. Whether you’re looking for a Low Country Boil, Whole Hog BBQ, a Paella Feast fit for a king, or the best Tomahawk Steaks this side of eternity, Craig & Live Fire Feasts has you covered.



Board member, Friday Arts Project

Breakfast Maestro


Handmade Biscuits
Whipped Butters
Preserves & Candied Bacon




David Applegate is an amateur historian, musician and collector of stories great and small. He is known to wax prosaic about World War 1 at the drop of a hat, and can name the first 100 World Series winners from memory. When not assisting with the execution of grand and gargantuan feasts, David moonlights as a Financial Services professional. David proudly has no social media presence whatsoever.


Arts Advocate

Director of Friday Arts Project





Kirk Irwin has been director of Friday Arts Project for 11 years. Prior to moving to Rock Hill, he lived in Orlando, Florida where he moved after marrying his wife Sarah and studied theology at Reformed Theological Seminary. Before that he lived and worked in New York City where he started his work in the art world alongside painter Makoto Fujimura and the International Arts Movement. He has served on several art boards (the International Arts Movement and the Arts Council of York County) and public art committees, but is currently taking a break from that work. Kirk has lived with artists his entire life beginning with his mother, a retired art teacher and painter, and now with his wife who is a graphic designer and painter. He dabbles in poetry and oversees the composting for he and Sarah’s gardening efforts. He is thrilled the apple trees appear to be thriving in his yard.


Igor Khodochinskiy

Mimi Irwin