New Histories: The Gadsden Farm Project
In Collaboration with Holly Hanessian
Gadsden County was once home to Florida’s most thriving agricultural economy. One of only two places in America suitable for growing shade tobacco, in 1946 Gadsden County bolstered a $100,000,000.00 industry. However, it is now the poorest county in the state of Florida.
New Histories is a socially engaged art project that explores the new history of the County, one in which small farmers are trying to address the area’s status as an economic and food desert.
Working with a team from the State of Florida Archives, we were able to build relationships with over a dozen farmers, including first generation immigrants, fourth generation shade tobacco farmers, livestock farmers, organic vegetable growers, and an elder whose family owns large acreages of longleaf pines.
The archive of the project is presented through a series of photographs, audio interviews, video recordings, and hand-made ceramic plates, and represents the living history of Gadsden County agriculture and the relationships forged between all of the collaborative partners.
The installation includes a custom designed dinner table with embedded speakers that play excerpts from conversations, as well as a cross section of a greenhouse with an adobe floor that houses video monitors playing recordings of farmer interviews.