I’ve been away from my blog for several months as I completed a project for the Blue Ridge Foothills Conservancy. Called “Voices of the Land,” it is a mini-documentary of the last working dairy farm in Greene County, Virginia. Photographs of the farm, both from a distance and from within, provide viewers with an opportunity to see how a dairy operates and to experience the beauty of the land that supports the dairy operation. Originally the project was designed to be twelve aesthetic photographs, but with the title “Voices of the Land” I felt that there needed to be accompanying audio recordings by the brothers who own the farm. Interviews with the brothers revealed their love of the farm and the animals, and their great memories as children of growing up in an environment where hard work was the norm. Milking cows cannot be done “when you feel like it.” It is done twice a day on a regular schedule. As children, the brothers went to work at dawn, then went to school (where sometimes they fell asleep at their desks), and in the afternoon, they returned to the farm to work past sunset. If there was time and energy left, schoolwork was completed. Commitment is the operative word of a dairy farmer.
As the project took shape, a slideshow emerged. Using the (now) thirteen original photographs as the foundation, the voices of the farmers were added, then supplemental photographs completed the story. The final product was a 25-minute slideshow with a history of the farm and descriptions of how the farm operates, as told by the brothers who have lived on the farm for over sixty years. An additional feature of the project are QR codes that accompany each of the thirteen printed and displayed photographs, which allows access to a short clip by using a QR reader on a smart phone. Below is the first image in the slideshow, and the QR code which accompanies it. In this clip you will hear the history of Fairview Farm as told by one of the brothers. Prints of ten of the images and copies of the DVD are available for purchase via the Blue Ridge Foothills Conservancy website: www.blueridgefoothillsconservancy.org.