The ‘Because’ of farming explored

Mar 06, 2014
Photo by: Isabel Stearns “Hester” is one of Isabel Stearns’ farm apprentice portraits on view at the Maine Farmland Trust Gallery in Belfast.

Belfast — “I Farm Because,” a collection of photographs and writing, goes on view Friday, March 7, through April 28 in the Maine Farmland Trust Gallery, 97 Main St. The gallery is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Farming is contagious — at least to Isabel Stearns, a young photographer from Simmons College in Boston. Last summer, she drove up to Maine to visit her friend Anna, an apprentice on Four Season Farm on Cape Rosier. She was introduced to the diverse farms in the Penobscot Bay area and soon found herself volunteering at Four Season Farm for two weeks alongside eight apprentices. With camera in hand, she had a taste of Maine’s farm life.

According to Stearns, who was raised on a conventional cranberry farm in Plymouth, Mass., working as an apprentice on a farm is a foreign lifestyle to most of her peers today. She said there is a disconnect between the food that sustains our bodies and where it comes from. Farming is either romanticized as “the simple life" or looked down upon it as menial labor.

“Consequently, farming is easily overlooked as a career path. However, I am excited to see that young individuals of all backgrounds are carefully choosing this work,” she said.

During her weeks in Maine, Stearns created a collection of photographs and assembled handwritten words of farm apprentices in the Penobscot Bay area. Each portrait in this exhibit is accompanied by a statement that begins with “I farm because …” Stearns and Anna Abaldo, Maine Farmland Trust Gallery’s curator, have created an interactive response wall so that visitors, too, can tell us why they farm – “which we hope they do,” said Abaldo.

Stearns graduated last May from Simmons College in Boston, where she studied business management and photography. This is her first major exhibit. For more information, visit mainefarmlandtrustgallery.org or contact Abaldo at anna@mainefarmlandtrust.org.

Maine Farmland Trust is a statewide nonprofit 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 mainefarmlandtrust.org.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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