The Last Harvest
During a recent visit to my hometown of McDonough, Georgia, I noticed an alarming trend. Much of the farmland around my home is vanishing rapidly due to a sharp growth in population, not only in my immediate neighborhood but also in the surrounding areas and for many miles away. Replacing the fertile landscape, numerous subdivisions are being constructed in order to accommodate this swirl of people moving into the area.
Twenty years ago, there were only sixteen houses on my rural road of three miles. However, today more than one thousand houses exist, and many more are currently being constructed. Most of this change is due to the commercial farming industry destroying the business of the small independent farmer and forcing him to make money the only way he can–by selling his farmland.
I can still remember an old farmer we called “Butterbean” who lived just up the street from my family. He had several hundreds of acres of farmland, and he would regularly stand along the roadside waving to anyone who might happen to drive by throughout the day. Unfortunately, a large-scale subdivision is now being erected on what was once Butterbean’s property. In the past years, it was not unusual for thirty minutes to pass before a car would be seen or heard on the road.
The fading farm life coupled with a huge migration of newcomers induces strong feelings of grief and resentment inside of me. These emotions continue to grow with each visit home. Yearning to revisit my childhood memories, I have decided to pay homage to the surviving workers of the land by documenting their lifestyles with the camera.
In documenting these individuals, I decided to concentrate on older farmers whose land and homestead have been passed down through many generations. Within this concentration, I focused my attention on “truck farmers.” This is a term coined by locals which identifies the truck farmer as a person who typically owns less than forty acres of land and who grows food for his family. His survival is dependent upon selling any surplus at local farmer’s markets, along the roadside from the back of his truck, or at a simple stand in his own backyard. In photographing the farmers, I wish to provide small yet majestic glimpses into the lifestyles of these very proud people.