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Contents:
Program 1403

1. sorghum farming
2. performer Angela Bartley
3. Greenhouse Poetry
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Menifee County

For more information:
National Sweet Sorghum Producers and Processors Association, c/o Morris Bitzer, 2049 Rebel Rd., Lexington, KY 40503, (859) 806-3358

Producer: Jeffrey Hill
Editors: Chris Merritt, Chris Wisecup, Jeffrey Hill


Raising Cane

the Welch family sorghum farm

Ron Welch and his family have had a sweet thing going for generations. On a farm in Menifee County, they grow sorghum and turn its cane into syrup, which they sell to a long-time base of regular customers.

Domesticated in Africa, sorghum was introduced to America in the 19th century via the slave trade. In fact, some agricultural scientists hoped that it could reduce reliance on slaves by serving as an alternate source of dry sugar, which was then produced by plantations heavily dependent on slave labor. Those experiments eventually proved impractical. But in the meantime, the Africans themselves introduced the New World to the many other uses of the grain and its byproducts.

Wild sorghum, a member of the grass family, makes excellent animal fodder. What humans discovered was that its cane can be crushed to extract a sweet juice. After filtering and evaporation in open pans, it forms a syrup that not only satisfies the sweet tooth but actually adds iron, calcium, and potassium to whatever it’s put in or on. Once upon a time, doctors even suggested it as a daily health supplement.

Sorghum production in America peaked in the early 20th century and fell off rapidly as pre-packaged sugar became cheaper and more readily available. But the traditions of growing and processing sorghum (and enjoying it as a sweetener or as candy) lived on in a few regions. Lately, sorghum syrup has made something of a comeback as a healthier alternative that can be substituted cup-for-cup for maple syrup, corn syrup, molasses, or honey. Kentucky and Tennessee are now the leading producers.

In this visit to the Welch farm, family members explain and demonstrate the planting and harvesting of sorghum. Kentucky Life previously visited a sorghum harvest, on Gladie Creek in Powell County, in Program 417.

Watch This Story (6:17)




Jefferson County

For more information:
Angela Bartley, (502) 387-6680
Salsa Dance Louisville
Kentucky Chautauqua, Kentucky Humanities Council, 206 E. Maxwell St., Lexington, KY 40508, (859) 257-5932

Producer, videographer, editor: Brandon Wickey
Audio: Noel Depp


Angie’s Active Life

multi-talented performer Angela Bartley

Evidently, Angela Bartley just never did decide what she wanted to be when she grew up. This multi-talented Louisville woman, who attended the University of Louisville on a music scholarship, bugles the “Call to the Post” for visitors at the Kentucky Derby Museum each day and produces her own CDs of trumpet music. She’s also a teacher—of both salsa dancing and airplane flying—and a model. And in her spare time, she portrays Rosie the Riveter and Mary Todd Lincoln for the Kentucky Humanities Council’s Kentucky Chautauqua program.

So if you’re going to keep up with Angie, you’d better wear comfortable shoes. This visit takes place at the Derby Museum; at Bowman Field, her base as an aviator; at a downtown hotel, where she opens a convention with a bugle call; and at Big Dave’s on Bardstown Road, where her students gather for dance lessons that also include insights on Caribbean and Latin culture gathered from her extensive world travels.

Angie’s portrayal of Rose Will Monroe, the Somerset woman who became a model for Rosie the Riveter, is spotlighted in the Kentucky Life World War II Special.

Watch This Story (9:04)




Warren County

For more information:
Greenhouse Poetry, (270) 991-8151

Producer, editor: Joel Smith
Videographers: Cheryl Beckley, Mindy Yarberry, Will Foster, Andrea Hummel


Word Up

Greenhouse Poetry

In our next segment, we see young people preparing for competition in a Western Kentucky league where the opponents are skilled and dedicated ... to the power of the spoken word.

It’s one of Greenhouse Poetry’s popular poetry competitions, which pit young practitioners of slam poetry—a mix of poetry, rhetoric, and rap—against each other for bragging rights. It’s both a way to show your skills and win prizes and a community-minded event designed to increase understanding among various cultures and ethnic groups.

Greenhouse also organizes workshops in communication and leadership and supports the spoken and written word through publishing efforts, lectures, and conferences.

Watch This Story (5:52)




Logan County

For more information:
Shaker Museum at South Union, P.O. Box 177, Auburn, KY 42206, (270) 542-4167 or (800) 811-8379


On Location

Dave Shuffett hosts this edition from the Shaker Museum at South Union. Founded in 1807 and closed in 1922, the South Union village was the westernmost outpost established by the Shakers in America. Today’s visitors can tour several restored buildings and stay overnight at the Shaker Tavern bed-and-breakfast.



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