The internet is a strange place - a platform for dividing the self into specific channels to compartmentalize interests, skills, knowledge. I've always struggled with the concept of self-representation, including on this blog. When I created the blog almost 4 years ago, I was attempting to channel my identity as a young photographer, perhaps trying to prove not as much to others as to myself that I indeed that above all things - a photographer.
Years have crept by and my desperate search for identity has faded. I no longer feel the need to prove myself as one thing or another (or I should say, the need has lessoned). The last couple of years, I've had a constant back and fourth relationship with my camera. My perception of myself as a human being, woman, child, lover, thinker, anthropologist, feminist, envrionmentalist and natural creature has grown and flourished, and I've learned to seek a new path - allowing photography to follow where I'm going, what I love and what I understand, as opposed to my previous path of attempting to use photography to lead and define those things.
This blog has channeled one small stream of my personal universe, leaving out countless parts and details of all the other waterways of my thoughts, passions and activities that define the way I see. One of the most important endeavors of my young life has been diving back into my country roots. Farming, gardening and creating a lifestyle defined by nature's laws and cycles has always been a natural truth inside my mind and heart, and I find myself sinking back into that truth more all the time.
By a stroke of random, serendipitous luck, I began working for a dairy farm in Rio Grande, Ohio about 10 months ago. Laurel Valley Creamery is the five generation family farm of Nick and Celeste Nolan. They've gone from selling milk from their herd of Jersey cows to making raw milk cheese (the most amazing cheese, ever.. seriously). It's always a balancing act with my other jobs, assistant-teaching a therapeutic photography class, volunteering with a middle school 4H program, working on a thesis project and finishing my degree, but it is one of the most positive relationships I've ever had. At Laurel Valley, I work the farmers market, do advertising, help create educational materials about farming and cheese-making, visual materials, and help with odd jobs like packaging and gardening. I love the Nolan family so dearly, and am constantly in awe of how much I learn from them (and laugh with them). They are wonderful human beings, and I am so thankful to be near their kindness, depth of knowledge and commitment to nourishing others with quality food and community.
So, allow this unedited plethora of photographs of the farm commence.