Thursday, March 26, 2009

First visit.

It seems a little off when a farmer says, "we've started the season, come on over and check it out...oh, by the way, the wind blew a lot of snow onto the driveway so you might not be able to make it up". When I showed up, sure enough there were 2 foot high drifts closing the driveway down. Graham heard the dog barking, so he came out and met me half way, re-acquainted himself, and showed me some of the new stuff around the farm such as a freezer, garage, small cabin for workers and a sheltered production area. With all this new investment, it was clear that Graham wasn't fucking around and plans to stick around.

When Graham invited me in, I was blown away with the smell of curry and ginger from Allison's pumpkin/squash soup, which turned out to be one of the best soups I've had in my life. It was hard to believe it was the first time she made that recipe. I think one of the most amazing things about the meal though is that everything on the table (salad, soup, scones) were all grown on the farm, except some of the spices and baking materials. Not many people, let alone farmers, can say that.

When the baby woke up, Graham brought him out he wouldn't stop looking at me with those huge blue eyes (the first thing I said when I saw him was "holy shit, look at those eyes"). Graham was pretty stoked to be able to proclaim that all the food they feed the baby is grown on the farm. You could hear the pride in his voice. I don't blame him.

After lunch I was pressed for time for photos (I had about 30 minutes). So, I ran out to the car, grabbed as much camera gear as I could haul up to the house and picked 3 subjects -the field, a snowed in trailer and the greenhouse. I didn't mind so much 'cause I think it was everything before this that set the mood for the entire season.

In April, the greenhouse will be a little more full, the garage a little more completed and the snow will be almost disappeared. May is the busy time of the season. Graham gets his crops in 3 weeks before most farmers and starts to recruit workers from the CSA program to start the transplanting and all that. By June some harvesting begins.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

new project

I met Graham and Allison at Sparrows Nest Organics (a small farm about an hour outside of Edmonton) about a year ago when my girlfriend did a story on them for Vue Weekly. Click here to read it. When I toured around the land and met them, it was surreal. Everything from the farming practices, the pre-war era equipment they used, their location on the top of a hill to their openness and personalities was too perfect. I took some snaps and one of the photos is published in the article. I dawned on me that their farm is the perfect place for a documentary project. So, I sent them an email and asked. They seemed really open to some free labour in exchange for my annoying presence on their farm for approximately 50 days.

The long and short is that I'm doing a 10-month long photo documentary on them and their farm. The purpose is to visually explore the lives and struggles of independent farmers who refuse to "fit in" to mainstream practices; to portray the techniques, practices, customs and values associated with community-focused farming; and to display the potential shift from large-scale farming to a more sustainable, ecologically sensitive mode of production.

I've applied for a grant through the Alberta Foundation for the Arts to help offset the costs of this. My budget was just over $6000 for all the film, paper, chemicals and transportation costs. If I don't get this grant it will seriously screw me pretty hard. It will mean a lot of hitchhiking to get there, fewer shots and a pretty half-assed end product.

The point of this blog is to chronologically document the project in it's entirety. I'm pretty stoked to have this chance and hopefully it just doesn't end up being some lameass blog that floats around the internet aimlessly.