Saturday, December 12, 2009

Rochester Contemporary 19th Annual Members Exhibition

If you happen to be in the Rochester area, check out RoCo's 19th Annual Members Exhibition, on display now through Jan. 17. A photograph from my Abandoned Houses series is included in the show.

137 East Avenue (between Scio & Gibbs Sts)
Rochester, NY 14604

Wed-Sun 1-5 PM
Closed Dec. 21-Jan. 5

General Admission: $1

Peacework Farm

This fall, I spent a few Sundays at the Genessee Valley Organic Community Supported Agriculture's Peacework Farm in Newark, NY. The GVOCSA was initially begun in 1989 by Elizabeth Henderson, author of Sharing the Harvest: A Citizen's Guide to Community Supported Agriculture. Greg Palmer and his wife Ammie Chickering partnered with Henderson in 1998. Each year the farm also recruit apprentices to work during the growing season. This summer, the farm had three full-time apprentices, all graduates from Green Mountain College and one part-time apprentice who also works at Small World Bakery (more about the bakery soon).

The organization of a CSA varies from farm to farm. Membership with Peacwork Farm involves a fee in the spring (ranging from $300-680 depending on an individual's desired food quantities) and 2-3 4-hour shifts of work on the farm, along with 1-2 2.5-hour shifts at the distribution site at Abundance Co-op in downtown Rochester.

Farm shifts are on Sundays and Thursdays. I went to the farm on three chilly Sundays to photograph the farmers and members working together on harvesting vegetables to prepare for distribution.

Toby, a friend of the apprentices, collects a bundle of pea shoots. (Pea shoots are delicious in a salad!)
Apprentice Allie pauses from digging potatoes to embrace a member's dog.
Farmer Greg sorts squash in different bins for distribution.
After the work is complete, the farmers and members gather for a wonderful potluck meal inside the barn. The food varies each week, but generally includes a salad of leaves and vegetables gathered fresh from the farm, cheese from a Mennonite store down the road, homemade bread, soup, and desserts (which I provided when I attended! I baked chocolate oatmeal cookies the first week, chocolate zucchini brownies the next, and chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese icing. The farmers greatly appreciated my chocolate contributions!)The apprentices were kind enough to let me come to their home and photograph some of their surroundings. I love to find these instances when modern technology (stereo) and age-old traditions (garlic braid) converge.
At the end of the season, the farm held a potluck dinner at St. Mary's Church in downtown Rochester. Attendees were asked to bring a dish with 8-10 servings, a note card listing ingredients, and their own place settings. The desserts went fast!To learn more about GVOCSA, visit their website or attend a sign up meeting, held on Wednesday, February 10, from 7-9 PM and Saturday, March 6, from 2-4 PM at the James P. B. Duffy School 12, 999 South Avenue, in Rochester.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Thesis Beginnings

Please forgive my long absence from the blogosphere! I've spent the last three months delving into my thesis project, in which I am photographing small communities and families practicing sustainable food production in Western NY.

In earlier projects, such as 100 Soup Cans, after Warhol, I worked to create photographs that critique the mainstream American food industry. Rather than continue with this critique, I am turning to focus on the positive actions being made by individuals and communities to carry on such traditions as gardening, baking, and cheese making. Interested in the Slow Food and Locavore movements, my research has revealed that the greater Rochester region contains a powerful community of groups and individuals practicing local food production. With my thesis, I am entering this community to meet people with similar food interests, to document their actions and to create images that reveal methods of eating that are alternative to convenience foods. The project will culminate in an art show, planned for fall 2010.

Throughout the next several days, I will post images from the project, highlighting the communities and individuals that I have had the great pleasure to meet and photograph thus far.

And without further ado, meet Farmer Erin, founder of Mud Creek Farm, a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) located in Victor, NY. The farm just finished its first year and plans have begun for the 2010 season. To hear more about the farm and its beginnings, listen to an archived interview from Michael Warren Thomas' local radio show Naturally Green.

Because I began the project in September, I have been catching the tail end of harvest season, which means cold weather crops, like kale (seen below, protected from frost), and wilting warm weather crops. I have visited the farm twice so far. During my first visit, I wandered the rows of crops and watched as Erin harvested cabbage. I also met Farmer Andy, of Andy's Specialty Garlic & Produce, another brand new CSA, located in Newark, NY. (More about him later). During my second visit to Mud Creek, family and friends came out on a Saturday to help Erin wrap up the season and harvest some of the last crops for a Thanksgiving share (a special bonus to members that signed up early for the 2010 season). Among other tasks, the greenhouse was cleaned, spinach was picked, and vegetables were washed.
If you happen to live in the Rochester area and are interested in joining the CSA in 2010, there is an information session tomorrow 12/06 at the Artisan Church (1235 S. Clinton Ave.) from 12:00 - 1:30PM. The event begins with a potluck lunch, so bring a dish!