Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Bountiful Harvest. My first History of Farming post.

Something I have been thinking about starting was regular posts on The History of Farming. The early 20th century American farm, seems like a good, but also a weird place to start. In a time when local/organic/urban farms are on the rise, and agribusiness is still a big factor in how food is produced, it seems real fitting. But, yes, people, for thousands of years have cultivated plants for food. And maybe, if I become dedicated enough, I will someday learn more about that.
But, as an American, and a photographer this seems like the place to begin. While in art school, learning the great masters of photography, the Farm Security Administration photographers were a huge part of my education. Walker Evans, Dorthea Lange and Gordon Parks are like gods to me. In a time when farming is a hot topic(for both the health of humans, and of the earth) it seems fitting to return to the time right before agribusiness, subsidies and genetically modified were words we used when we spoke about food. To a time, when we grew things so people could eat, and the people who grew them were paid for what they grew. It seemed simple enough...but it's not anymore. So while trying to find books on farming at the Somerville Library, I came across a book called, Bountiful Harvest. A collection of photographs compiled by Leslie A. Loveless; the photographer is Pete Wettach, who lived in Iowa and worked(among many things) as an FSA worker. Born in New Jersey, he longed to be a farmer, and moved to Iowa. His farming dream failed, but he ended up working to help the ones whose profession he longed for. He helped farmers displaced by the Great Depression, to purchase farmland. During that time he photographed. He knew these people, and was able to document them for about four decades. He shows us, not only the hardships of the Great Depression, but the farms that survived, but the many different facets of a farm life and community.
... maybe there needs to be a new class of FSA photographers, but we could substitute the word farm, for food. We could document people who grow healthy food, in ecological ways and to those who are teaching future generations to appreciate growing and preparing food.
what do you all say?

photograph by Pete Wettach

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Nature Walk 11/16/08

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I walk this route a few times a week, and I tried to look at trees, plants, et al. that I haven't.
On an entirely different note, My head keeps chanting, "yes, we can."
It's a good mantra for artists too.

Michael Pollan for Secretary of Agriculture

Go here, and you can sign a petition to ask Barack Obama to make Michael Pollan his Secretary of Agriculture. Even if he wouldn't do it, I think it's a pretty great message to send to President Elect Obama.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Only you can prevent...Wildfires?

As I was forcing my eyes to remain open while watching the TV show Bones on my computer, the obligatory commercial breaks every ten minutes or so, this time featured our friend, Smokey Bear. After he chastised a smoker who throws his cigarette so carelessly in clearly extremely dry brush, Smokey says, "Only you can prevent Wildfires." A change(which was done in 2002, go me for just now becoming aware) which substituted the word forest for wild. Even with the word change, after I see one of those commercials I automatically envision myself carrying a bucket of water with me, everywhere and always. Yet, again, we see fires jumping from roof to roof, pushed by Santa Ana winds in California, and they suspect arson.
So where's the power in the name change? Is forest to far away for us to care? Does wild imply a recklessness that could come from the middle of a forest right to out doorstep? Apparently adults were not convinced that we were, or could be responsible for devastating fires, so the word wildfires was supplanted. Smokey still leaves me afraid for our forests, or wilds, but what's even more frightening is a counter that on the website showing how many of acres have burned this year... we've passed 5 Billion. Maybe they should have commercials of Smokey ripping potential wild/forest fire starters limb from limb to get the point across a little clearer.

For more info go to

Nature Walk Portland, ME

Last weekend, I went to Portland, ME to see a cousin I haven't seen for about 6 years. I arrived at 8 AM and didn't leave until 5, so there was lots of time to walk around. We were in Downtown Portland for most of my visit. One of my favorite moments was finding a giant Copper Beech Tree in the front of this beautiful(and also a little intimidating) Episcopal Church. We did so much walking, I really don't remember exactly where these were taken. But enjoy anyhow.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Nature Walking for Reals.

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Okay, so I finally did it! I made a virtual nature walk!!! It's the first one, so it is still has a lot of work that needs doing, but it is pretty exciting. So yeah, glad I finally did this, because it's not become winter or anything...


Saturday, November 1, 2008