What will Kentucky Book Festival visitors find on your table?
Sown in the Stars: Planting by the Signs (University Press of Kentucky, 2023) is a book about the practice of planting crops and doing other activities as guided by the moon/zodiac signs. It brings together information from interviews that were conducted in 2018-2019 with nearly two dozen people in Kentucky who follow the practice, as well as information from relevant published resources. If you’ve ever wondered what the best days table in the Old Farmer’s Almanac or the strange symbols on black and red “brownie” calendars are based on, this book provides comprehensive background information, biographical sketches of those interviewed, and goes through each of the signs and what is recommended for them. In addition, there are over 60 color photos (by Meg Wilson) to enhance the reader’s journey.
Whom do you invite to stop by? Who will benefit from reading your book?
Those with interest in: agriculture/gardening, astrology, rural Kentucky, Appalachian studies, oral histories, photography (especially of the region).
Could you please tell us something curious about you and/or your book?
The connection of women to this practice came through in a number of ways during this project. Many people are familiar with the idea or recommendation that women who are menstruating should not be in the garden, as their presence is believed to have a negative impact. On the other hand, one person interviewed (Debbie Cook of Letcher Co.) described her mother-in-law’s encouragement for her to be out in the garden while she was pregnant, as her presence would have an especially beneficial impact during that time.
Is this your first time participating in Kentucky Book Festival? If yes – what are you looking forward to the most? If you’ve participated before – what was your favorite experience at the Festival?
Yes, it’s my first time. I am looking forward to being together with other Kentucky’s authors, including so many that I admire and look up to!
Sarah L. Hall is associate professor of agriculture and natural resources at Berea College. Meg Wilson, a Berea College alum, is a graduate student in art and art history at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Sown in the Stars brings together the collective knowledge of farmers in central and eastern Kentucky about the custom of planting by the signs.