Wegmeyer Farms is off the beaten path, you might say. The last bit of road that goes out to the farm is definitely country with gravel, dirt, an old single lane bridge, and a number of deep ruts. But it’s a beautiful ride and well worth the trip to see their gorgeous hillside pumpkin field and 30+ varieties of pumpkins, including many heirlooms with a broad spectrum of colors and shapes. I visited their old stone barn and pumpkin field about a week before Halloween and enjoyed the crisp autumn air and scenery….
Autumn at Ticonderoga Farms means pumpkins, hayrides, and plenty of outdoor fun in their huge play area. Their pumpkin patch is a short walk from the entrance or the hayride will take you right there, though I recommend the hayride, which takes you around the bamboo maze and part of the Christmas tree forest. It’s a fun autumn tradition and my boys were screaming, “This is the best hayride ever!” They enjoyed seeing all the Halloween displays and prop animals throughout the ride….
The second farm in The Farm Project is Ticonderoga Farms in Loudoun County, Virginia, which has been in their family for five generations. They grow figs, pumpkins, bamboo, flowers, Christmas trees, tomatoes, and other vegetables on their 1,000 acres. In addition, they raise free-range hens and sell the eggs and sell organic honey from their bee hives. They hold festivals in spring, summer, autumn, and winter celebrating each season and the things they grow. In 2011 they hosted their first Fig Lovers Feast, a celebration of the fig groves that they had planted eight years earlier which now have over 400 trees and produce enough figs to sell commercially. They grow five varieties of figs for commercial production and are experimenting with 10 other varieties. They provide figs to several high-end restaurants in Northern Virginia, including The Inn at Little Washington.
(Figs in the photo: Golden Delicious, Brown Turkey, Verte.)
I didn’t grow up on a farm, but my family has a long history in agriculture and I grew up in Missouri and Illinois, where farms were abundant. In the summer you couldn’t drive anywhere in central Illinois without seeing corn and soybean fields, and detasseling was a common summer job for teens. In the fall the stalks would brown just like the trees, and the farmers removed them, leaving the fields bare. Midwest winters were cold, often bitter, with plenty of snow. Spring always brought relief as the rains came, trees started to green, and flowers spread their color. Then planting started over again.
My soul is tied to the seasons, and I didn’t realize it until I worked abroad and lived in places that didn’t have winter, where the only thing that defined different times of year was the amount of rainfall. I missed the changing of seasons and all that went along with it. I missed the foods of each season, the changing temperatures, the snow, the smell and crisp feel of fall air, the joy of seeing the first tree blossom in the spring.
So I’ve started visiting farms and wineries in Northern Virginia and making pictures, trying to tell the story of each season on the farm, showing how it changes. And whenever possible, I bring home food from each farm and cook with it.
Every farm is unique. Every farm has a story. I want to tell the stories of farms in Northern Virginia through my camera lens.
A few years ago my mother took her love of gardening to a whole new level. She successfully completed the Master Gardening course through the Clemson University Extension and now volunteers as a Master Gardener. To say that I’m proud of her doesn’t even begin to cover it, and I find myself calling her frequently with gardening questions. It’s good to have a Master Gardener in the family.
In the last few years my father has helped her more and more, and they’ve done some amazing things. Whenever we go for a visit I find myself wandering around look at her flowers and enjoying the beauty she has created.[Disclosure: This blog earns a small commission through affiliate links.]
I think the ground hog’s crystal ball has a crack in it, because spring did not come early in our area. Overnight freezing temperatures persisted through the end of March, plus cold rainy weekends kept us indoors, so we are finally getting out to the garden this week. Instead of being in the kitchen, I’m outdoors every day planting in the beds that Michael has prepared, updating the garden journal, and making plans for future growing areas. Yes, we are expanding the garden again. So instead of a recipe today, here are some photos of the early fruit blossoms in our garden. Hurray for spring!
First cherry blossoms.
Peach blossoms.[Disclosure: This blog earns a small commission through affiliate links.]
This has been year of focus on photography, on figuring out why I do what I do and what I want to do better. The Food and Light Workshop in June was fantastic and so helpful, and it inspired me to work even harder on improving my photography. I get Me Ra Koh’s email newsletter, and when I saw she and Brian were coming to DC again this year for another workshop, I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity. I sat on the floor in front during her presentation at BlogHer 08 and just fell in love with her images and the open way she shared, and I had a feeling it would be an amazing weekend.
The women who participated in the workshop came from a wide variety of backgrounds but we all share the same passion for capturing our world in images to share with others. Many had experience shooting portraits and have started their own portrait photography businesses, others like me were exploring the idea of adding this skill to our repertoire, whether for business or personal enjoyment. And it was a FUN group!…
This post is really darn late, I know. I had grand plans to tell the story of the two days I spent at the Food and Light Workshop in Boulder with four fabulous photography mentors and 25 workshop participants, to tell about all the wonderful people I met, to wax poetic on the food, to show photos of the beautiful scenery. It was all amazing and worthy of several blog posts.
But I realized during the weeks following that what I needed to write would not go into infinite detail about what I saw and experienced, but what changed for me as a result of the workshop. Sometimes it takes a while to ruminate on, process, and digest everything when so much was learned in a compressed time period, and I’ve constantly thought about my photography since then. There were some “aha” moments, a few “why is this part still hard” moments, and many “I’m so glad I did this” moments. The weekend was very productive and worthwhile….