Readers will recall previous posts requesting photos… here’s a story about the results!
Belfast. When Maine Farmland Trust’s Gallery Coordinator Anna Abaldo decided to invite farmers to submit a dozen pictures of their favorite things for the next gallery exhibit, she made a big mistake.
Not because she did not receive enough pictures. That was a concern at first, but it proved unfounded: the gallery received well over three hundred photographs.
And not because the photos were not good enough. To the contrary, Maine’s farmers are clearly a creative bunch with an eye for detail and beauty.
No, the real mistake lay in the fact that there was so much wonderful artistry and content in the submissions, that these photographs could have filled a year’s worth of shows at Maine Farmland Trust. Each farm in this show is worthy of its own spotlight. Submittals from more than thirty farmers ensure that the gallery will be brimming with farm images from top to bottom.
“The best part about this show is that the pictures were taken by the farmers and farm workers themselves—so we get to see the daily life at the farm, and the highlights of different days, through farmers’ eyes,” said Abaldo.
“When the most photographed subject among thirty-plus farms is baby animals, we know that our farmers’ hearts are in the right place, ” she added with a smile.
Abaldo explains that she did not curate the show, but rather, accepted all submissions, ensuring more accurate representation of real farm life. “This show is really about the farmers and what they cherish,” said Abaldo.
This approach led to Abaldo’s decision to print all photos on regular glossy cardstock and to hang them home-style, un-framed, like a big collage.
This is the first time Maine Farmland Trust has drawn on photos taken by farmers to create a gallery show, but judging by the enthusiastic response from the farmers, Abaldo thinks it may set a precedent for a yearly exhibit.
Shelby Chadwick, from Ben Eva Farm in Warren, submitted photos along with this written note: “We just love our farm and it’s so hard to pick only 20 things we love, but we’re also thankful we got a chance to share our life, the farm and the things that make our heart sing! It’s also a great chance to show those who don’t farm an amazing life we get to live and how blessed we feel… maybe it will inspire some to get back to the land and enrich their own lives, too. What a wonderful opportunity to celebrate Farms, Farm families and farmland.”
When viewers take in the wall-papered gallery, they will notice that each picture, or grouping of pictures, tells a story. Clearly, there are some stories that all farms share, such as the joy of late summer harvests, or the sweetness of new life being born. But there are other stories that are unique to a farm. That includes one farm’s steer called Christmas, who thought he was a horse; another farm’s ritual of laying the last of summer’s dahlias on rocks by the river to let the tide take them away; and the legacy of eight generations of farming from Cobb Farm in Winthrop.
In the words of Justin Cobb: “The final picture is a copy of the first ownership transfer of our farm from my great-great-great-great grandfather Nathan and my great-great-great grandfather Lewis. It may not qualify for your show but, it is among my favorite things. Eight generation farms are rare and it is a nice reminder of how my history instructs my future.”
One of the interactive elements in this exhibit is the option of listening to farm stories provided as podcasts. “These are interviews with Maine farmers who participate in the Forever Farms program, edited for radio,” explained Jamie Wood, a Maine Farmland Trust staff member who made the recordings.
Other interactive elements include: a response board, so that visitors can also share their favorite things about farms; a questionnaire which guides visitors to look for certain elements in the photographs; and several farm recipes to take home. Given that this show is well-suited to children, Abaldo hopes that families and schools will take advantage of this exhibit.
A Farmer Reception with refreshments, open to the public, will be held on Friday, February 7, from 3 pm – 5 pm. “These Are a Few of my Favorite Things” will be on display until March 3.
The Maine Farmland Trust Gallery, located at 97 Main Street in Belfast, is open Monday through Friday from 9 am – 4 pm. More information can be found at www.mainefarmlandtrustgallery.org or by contacting Gallery Coordinator Anna Abaldo at annamainefarmlandtrustorg (annamainefarmlandtrustorg) . To book a classroom visit to the gallery, contact Kim Sanborn at 338-6575 or kimmainefarmlandtrustorg (kimmainefarmlandtrustorg) .
Maine Farmland Trust is a statewide non-profit organization working to keep Maine’s farms farming. Maine Farmland Trust created its gallery to celebrate art in agriculture, and to inspire and inform the public about farming in Maine. For more information on the Trust, visit www.mainefarmlandtrust.org