Bennett Konesni owns and runs Duckback Farm in Belfast, Maine, focusing on garlic production for seed and table, culinary herbs, and teas. In addition to farming he is an internationally-touring musician, focusing on northern fiddle and dance music as well as worksongs for field and forest, which he uses regularly on his own farm and teaches at workshops. He also creates vivid papercuttings which depict a culture of food that integrates heritage breeds, seeds, songs, stories and dances.
Bennett was raised in Maine and was naturally drawn into the strong communities of old-time music, art, and farming in the area. At thirteen he shipped as a deckhand aboard local schooners, spending five summers sailing Penobscot Bay and learning the traditional work songs of the tall ships as he raised sails and hauled anchors. Later, at Middlebury College, Bennett co-founded the student farm and spent six months studying Zulu farming songs in South Africa. He was awarded a Thomas J Watson fellowship to spend a postgraduate year in Tanzania, Ghana, Mongolia, Vietnam, Switzerland, and Holland studying worksongs of sea, field and steppe.
More recently Bennett co-founded Sylvester Manor, a 243-acre educational farm on Shelter Island, NY. Though he no longer runs the farm there, he is still involved in long-range strategic planning and outreach for the organization. He also teaches worksongs to the farm crew and directs the annual fall festival “Plant & Sing”, which brings the community to the farm to complete two week’s worth of garlic shucking and planting in a single morning, all while singing.
Bennett has given a Ted talk about his work, and speaks, teaches, and performs throughout North America and Europe as an individual and as parts of several bands. He and his wife Edith are building a farm and homestead of their own in Belfast, Maine, twelve miles from his childhood homes in Appleton and on Islesboro Island.
Interested in having me at your next event? I regularly collaborate with individuals and institutions on music, food, and art.
Please contact me directly if you are interested in booking me for your event.
SELECTED SPEAKING & TEACHING ENGAGEMENTS
Worksongs and Fair Food: TEDxFruitvale, Oakland, CA
Adjunct Professor, Unity College
Environmental Colloquium, Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT
A Celebratory Yootz: Antioch University Graduation, Keene, NH
Lasell Visiting Fellow: Pomfret School, Pomfret, CT
Guest Speaker, Groton School, Groton, MA
All-School Assembly: Sag Harbor Elementary, Sag Harbor, NY
MUSIC PERFORMANCE AND INSTRUCTION, WORKSHOPS & CONTRADANCES
US State Department Folk Music Ambassador with Old Gray Goose, Mongolia and Ukraine
Alma Houston Scholar and Speaker: Lunenburg Folk Harbor Festival, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia
Raleigh First Night, Raleigh, NC, Guitar w/Gawler Sisters Band
Worksongs, Toasting Song, Contradance: Young Farmer's Conference Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, Pocantico Hills, NY
Worksong Workshop Leader, Toasting Song Leader for the general assembly, NOFA-NY (Northeast Organic Farmer's Association of NY) Conference
Worksongs and Tunes for Edible Communities Conference, Manhattan, NY
Peformance and Art Exhibition, Umami Festival's Food Book Fair, Brooklyn, NY
Please see this list
LICENSING BENNETT'S WORK AND COMMISSIONS
Logo and identity design for the Water Street Learning Center, Liberty, Maine
Private Commissions and Portraits available upon request