pineapples don't grow on trees


RAFI is the Rural Advancement Foundation International, which does a lot of work here in North Carolina with all types of farmers. I heard their organization on an interview about a month back when they were advocating for farmers who benefit from the Tobacco Settlement Trust Fund. Thousands and thousands of acres in North Carolina used to be farmed for tobacco, but as the tobacco industry has declined, so has the need for growers. Of course this left a lot of land to still be farmed and a lot of farmers still wanting to farm. So if eligible, these farmers can receive grants for various projects to transition out of tobacco farming and into other ventures. RAFI has put together these short documentaries on how these farmers are actually using this money to support and further their farming practices. I think I watched just about all of them and it’s inspiring to see what others are out there doing and also how much farmers are benefiting from this fund. On one level it is probably helping their income to diversify their farms and try new ventures, and not only that, but in most cases they are preserving the land at the same time. So check it out some of these stories:

*If you happen to notice, all of the interviews and photos were done over the winter which is not a coincidence by any means. The bees aren’t the only ones who are busy around this time of year!



The seven stages of bean picking:

Around this time every year they start to magically appear in grocery stores everywhere. What were once packaged in the styrofoam plate and plastic wrap are now overflowing from bins with big signs above them shouting at you “Green Beans!”. So you grab a bag and fill it. Maybe a couple handfuls, take ’em home and probably cook them until they no longer have that wonderful green color that they had in the store or when they were just picked. Maybe these beans are going to go with a special meal or maybe they’ll accompany a cookout. This is what you’re thinking about when you see them at the store in such great abundance. Snap beans are a sign of summer in farm life. Once the beans are in there is no turning back. What you’re probably not thinking about are how the beans were picked and the who, what, where and when of it all. I understand. I don’t think I ever thought of that either until, before I knew it I was out there in the midst of it all.

It can be a lengthy process. If you’ve played your cards right then there should be a hell of a lot of beans to pick. Before you know it you’ve been out for hours and before you know it you haven’t even finished a row yet. One day on the farm, we described the process of bean picking to be akin to the seven stages of grief. First comes the denial where you don’t really think it’s going to take you as long as it will actually take you to get thru a row. Then comes the pain and guilt (mainly pain) from going through the same motion over and over and even though you do your 7th inning stretches, let’s face it you just really want to sit down. Before you know it, you’ve slipped into the anger stage. Everything becomes irrational. Especially your perspective on snap beans. At this point hopefully you’ve worked your way at least half way through the row cause now were at stage number 4: reflection and depression but mostly reflection. Let’s just say now is not a good time to start reflecting on the meaning of life and asking questions like if a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?. The reflection only leads to more reflection and one can only take so much reflection. From here you’re supposed to take an “upward turn”. Things start looking, well…up I suppose. The sky looks bluer, the grass I mean beans look greener. Maybe you even see that light at the end of the tunnel where you are no longer swalloed up by green snap beans and yellow wax beans and whether or not their ripe. It’s a good moment, embrace it.
Of course it’s by this time that you’ve also worked out all your issues and glitches and have “reconstructed” your outlook. It’s kind of like when you zone out and before you know it you’ve run 3 miles, or a 1/2 mile…which then leads into accepting that this is your destiny…well not picking snap beans per se, but you get the idea.

Through many experiments, my colleagues and I have concluded that as soon as the acceptance starts, it usually about time to start a new row and so you slip right back into the denial.

The End.

Oh yeah, and this is something I shot today while I was not picking snap beans!


Tunnel Vision: The South is for lovers:

Tunnel Vision:

I was just shy of 16 sitting in driver’s ed class. The classes were long but you had to pay attention because at the end of every class was a quiz and if you missed more then 5 questions, you had to take that class over again and no one wants to repeat driver’s ed. In one of these classes I remember learning about tunnel vision. You know, where you’re just staring at the road and while you’re paying attention to the actual road, you’re not really aware of what’s around you. Or what’s coming up next. You’re just kind of going along and then all of the sudden you snap out of it and you’re aware of the car next to you and the sun setting to your left and that you’re probably speeding. Whoops.

I was thinking about this one day while I was working. I was thinking about how I can get so caught up in my task at hand that I become totally unaware of what’s happening around me. I’ll look back on what I was just working on and wonder how I could have missed so much of what was going on. I feel like society is always telling me that I need to just live in the moment and not get caught up in the past and the future so much so that I lose track of what’s happening around me. That’s all well and good I guess, but I think I’m settling on the side that you can get too caught up the moment. And with that I’m going to move on so I don’t get too caught up in this moment.

The South is for Lovers:

Since flying south, I’ve made a mental list of southern things that I love:

*I regularly see men wearing bow-ties, especially on Sunday

*Down here, you don’t refer to people as people. Their folks.

*Folks don’t complain about the weather. Unless their farmers in which case their excused.

*There is no shortage of Bluegrass music.

*There is no shortage of history and nearly everywhere you turn, that history has been embraced.

The only way this is related to the south is that it was taken here. And I love it. Oh! And it’s Okra! That’s totally southern!



Dill Pickles: When Love Wins:

Dill Pickles:

It started two summers ago when I decided to really start a substantial garden. One year I came home from living abroad and I didn’t know how to deal with my culture shock of coming home to what was up until then the only culture I had ever known. So I retreated to starting a garden. Then after a couple of years I began to actually grow things other than weeds and grass. It was a miracle. This particular year I planted a whole bunch of cucumber plants and before I knew it I had more cucumbers than I knew what to do with. I couldn’t eat them or even give them away fast enough. So once I was throughly overwhelmed with them I decided the only way I could not let the precious bounty of my garden go to waste was to pickle them. I checked out some different recipes and decided to go with a basic dill pickle. It seemed easy enough and pickles are supposed to be one of the “easier” things to can (outside of tomatoes which you just really can’t go wrong there). I say “easier” because really no canning endeavor is easy. It takes time. It takes attention and above all it takes patience. So I harvested the cucumbers, cut them into spears, put the pickling spices together, washed the jars and lids, boiled the water, put it all together and into the water it went. I watched and waited in anticipation thinking about how great these pickles were going to be. Thinking that they were going to be extra great because, well, I made them. Things always taste better when you make them I think. So a couple of days later when my family was over I popped open a jar hoping to share with everyone in all of the planting, watering, and care that went into creating these little guys. My brother took the first one and as he bit into it his face began to twist and contort. Mush. They were complete mush. They tasted great. They smelled great. But they were mush.

I left the other jars in the basement next to all of the other cans of tomato sauce and soup. Part of me hoped that it was just a one jar coincidence while the other part of me knew better. The jars remained there until just last week. I just couldn’t bring myself to throw them all away. All of my hard work, down the drain. Quite literally too as they went down the garbage disposal one by one. It just hit me one day that I didn’t want to see these failures staring me in the face every time I went to the shelf to get something else. It’s a common thing really, to remember the bad and failed attempts rather than the triumphant ones. Sometimes the circumstances are just beyond our control though. And sometimes there just comes a time when you have to open up the jars, one by one, and throw it away. (Or throw it in the compost!)

When Love Wins:

I have a friend that says this all the time. Love Wins. Apparently there is a book out there by the same name that I haven’t read. Charlie Sheen has also coined the new “that’s what she said joke” or the “fail” punch line with “Winning”. So love and winning are kind of all over the place right now. Much like this post…uh…I mean…what?

Anyway my only point about this is…this…

“If you want to be the one to be loved, you got to be the one giving it up”




Switching gears, turning over a new leaf and other cliches: Prints:

The best thing since sliced bread. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Till the cows come home? Is that one or did I make that one up? It’s interesting to think about where all of these cliches come from and how they even get to be cliches. They make for such a good transition sometimes into thoughts that have nothing to do with the cliche at all…

So I’m switching gears, if you will, into something completely different then photography. I went on a reserve frenzy at the library the other day and now have, at the very least, six books in the works all centered around agriculture in one form or another. One that I just started yesterday is “The Land Was Everything”, which is a collection of letters from an American Farmer. The beginning starts off by describing rural life and who the American farmer was and later on will be.

“Farmers see things as others do not. Their age-old knowledge is more than the practical experience that comes from the art of growing food or from the independence of rural living. It involves a radically different-often tragic- view of human nature itself that slowly grows through the difficult struggle to work and survive from the land. Destroyed by hail that most others ignore, praying for a rain that few will notice, increasingly foreclosed upon in a sea of cash, smug in their ability to nourish thousands but bewildered that they cannot feed their family, apart from town but dependent on those who are not, still confused over how and why plants usually produce harvests but sometimes do not, the last generation of American farmers have become foreign to their countrymen, who were once as they.”

It paints kind of a bleak picture of those who are providing food for an entire country no? I think that more and more we are becoming aware of just how important farmers are, but there is still a huge disconnect between the American consumer and where our food comes from and furthermore, the route it takes to get to the supermarket.

I’ve only just begun this book so we’ll see where it goes, but what I really love about it so far it the title. The Land Was Everything. Because that’s the way it should be. The land should be everything. The land is a source of beauty, resource, and ever giving us what we humans need to survive. From California to the New York island.

I’m totally open for conversation about this passage and whether or not it’s an accurate portrayal of the American farmer and whether or not it’s even important.  How much do we really think about where our food is coming from and how involved are we willing to get in order to make the land everything again?

The best thing since sliced bread:

On a completely separate note, I’ve never really mentioned this before, but if you would ever like to purchase a print of something I’ve posted on here, please let me know!

Just in case you need a little visual encouragement:


Both of these are fabulous in a 12×12…


So this is the New Year:

Well ladies and gentlemen, we’ve made it. 2011. It’s time for the obligatory year end/new year post. I was trying to decide which theme I should go with, the “year in review” theme or there’s the “my resolutions for the new year are xyz…” or the ever classic theme of  “I can’t believe how time goes by so quickly”. I wonder how many bloggers out there are posting about the new year and how many of their posts center around these subjects…hmmm….that would be an interesting search.

While I was thinking about this, my mind wandered into the realm of how we always seem to get so reflective at the end of the year. We take all of the memories we’ve made and pack them into boxes, tape them shut,  write “2010” on the outside of the box with a sharpie, and then put it away in the closet with the rest of the years. Then we think about all of the things that we didn’t do and try to make it a point to do them within the next year. And following that thought we then try to think back over 365 days worth of mistakes and try not repeat the same mistakes. I don’t have some sort of grand point to make in all of this other then the fact that it’s just plain weird. I saw a lot of people post facebook statuses along the lines of “2011 will be my year” and I ask,  your year to do what? And if 2011 is “your year”, do you only get one year that’s yours or can you have more? I guess I’m sarcastically pointing out that this statement makes no sense when you really think about. A year is a year. A reference to time. Time is time and it is merely a way at measuring your life.

So, I’ve decided to go with the reflective theme for this post. I thought about where I am mentally at this point in time and how I felt about the past 365 days of my life and how I feel about the upcoming 365 days of my life and I summed it up in pretty much one word: content. It wasn’t always good, and it wasn’t always bad. I’m not exactly where I want to be, but I’m not so sure I’ll ever really know when I’ll get there. So there you have it.

I was digging around through some files of photos I’ve shot over the past months and I came across some I thought I’d like to share….I know, shame on me for not having some sort of collage with photos from 2010 and all that happened and a year in statuses and my most used word of 2010…

But what I did do is find some fun memories of visiting my friend in Grand Rapids, MI and wandering around an apple farm, stumbling upon a beehive, and watching people on the horse drawn hayrides give us  weird looks as they passed by.

Happy 2011!!!