This is the last ‘Behind the Wheel’ post, as I am now off the road from the Color of Food / photo documentary tour, and am back home working to put the stories and images together from all the farmers of color I interviewed, so they can be shared far and wide!
This morning, I returned from the mechanic with heartwrenching news. In fact, I feel like I should have been wearing black with a prepared eulogy in hand. Lucille, my home and the Color of Food headquarters for the last 5 months, is dead.
Miss Lucille was the 1990 Oldsmobile station wagon that carried me safely across the United States this summer to interview over 60 farmers for my photo documentary – the Color of Food. She, after being garaged most of her life, drove thousands of miles for five months straight, endured over 100 degree temperatures, traversed dirt roads across rural America, climbed the steep mountains of the West and ventured through the isolated prairie lands of our Native reservations. And she did it all with style and grace.
This is the first time in my life that I’ve become attached to a material thing, so much so that I’m even blogging about it. But this beast of an automobile morphed into a real person for me and others who had the privilege to know her out on the open road. This car really had her own personality – she did things her way and took her sweet time doing it- but she gave me a priceless gift.
Not only did Lucille keep me safe for every moment on the road(living up to her namesake, B.B. King’s guitar who he claims saved his life), but she was responsible for getting me face to face with the many farmers this country needs to know:
Black farmers in the South who invited me into their homes and shared with me photos of their ancestors, stories of first buying their land, struggles of escaping disasters like Hurricane Katrina and the pride of providing for their families and communities from their own land.
Hispanic farmers on the border of Mexico transitioning from farmwork to owning and running their own farm businesses, or those that are farming the same land their family has farmed for 300 years, growing traditional foods and irrigating with the same indigenous practices that have been used in their region for hundreds of years.
Asian farmers who are introducing their traditional foods and vegetables into communities where food diversity is severely lacking, as are healthy alternatives.
Native American farmers who are proving that dry farming (no irrigation) is not only possible, but a way of life for many indigenous cultures in the driest parts of our country; while others fought battles with water rights in the face of drought -which is an extremely significant issue with a global farming community facing drought, climate change and an opressive movement of GMO/drough resistant seed takeovers. These farmers invited me, an outsider, in to learn about sacred traditions with corn, traditional foodways and ceremony.
I never would have had the chance to spend this time visiting with and learning from so many of this country’s amazing and resilient communities and the people who are feeding them, had it not been for Lucille. She started as a gift from those who supported the Color of Food’s fundraising efforts, and now with her death (which only occurred once she was sure she’d gotten me safely back home), she’s ending as the gift that made this whole project possible. She worked hard to ensure all of these voices were captured, so I will work hard to make them heard.
Thanks Lucy. I will miss you dearly.