There’s nothing like the first fresh strawberries of the season. That gorgeous bright red color is so inviting, promising a sweet and juicy delight. When I brought home a bucket of fresh-picked strawberries from Wegmeyer Farms, my boys could hardly keep their hands out of it, and after letting them snack on a few, I had to put the bucket away so we would have strawberries for making desserts, like this strawberry gelato. …
The strawberry field at Wegmeyer Farms is blanketed with plants laden with blossoms and fruit. The field slopes down from the grass-covered parking area, and the rows are covered with black plastic to keep the weeds out and prevent erosion. During my visits, workers picked berries and put them in flats destined for nearby Whole Foods Markets, while visitors selected berries and dropped them into picking buckets. The farm is in a very peaceful area of Loudoun County with beautiful views of the hills, giving me the chance to enjoy the stillness of the cool morning while I worked. It was a Zen-like experience….
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….
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.