A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of spending a week in Madison County, Ky. participating in the 2014 Mountain Workshops. For 39 years, The Mountain Workshops have been helping visual journalists improve their storytelling skills by having participants document a person and a county for a week. Coupled with nightly lectures and feedback by coaches and peers, the Mountains are a life-changing experience for many journalists, myself included.
I was lucky enough to have had Denny Simmons as my photo coach, Bob Merrifield as my writing coach and six great shooters as my peers. I learned so much from them and everyone else at the workshop and I hope to be back next year once again.
The best part of the week was my story subject, Margery Baldwin. She is the owner and operator of Baldwin Farms but is much more than that. She is a selfless, caring and loving woman who's given as much as she can to everyone around her. You can check out the published story at the Workshops' website, and look at my version below:
Autumn leaves rustle in the wind and settle among the pumpkins spread across the ground as Margery Baldwin walks through Baldwin Farms.
Home, farm and business, the enterprise is the brainchild of Margery and Tryon “Ty” Baldwin, who acquired the property near Richmond 37 years ago. Margery and Ty ran it together for many years with indispensable help from Pedro Vargas Sanchez, a farmhand who became like a son to them.
“Ty was a dreamer and I was a doer,” says Margery. They dreamed of and built a business, letting people cut their own Christmas trees and pick vegetables and pumpkins from the fields. They worked every day during the cold holiday season and planted in the fields as soon as the weather warmed. They ate breakfast every morning with Pedro, and were joined later by his wife, Adolfina “Maria” Vargas. Today, seven years after Ty passed away, Pedro and Margery continue the daily breakfasts. Maria takes care of the couple's children, Alex and Ty.
In recent years, Margery has stepped back from the labor of farm life and focused on administration and oversight. At 69, she knows she can't do as much as she used to and will have to stop at some point. She wants the farm to work out for Pedro and Maria, so they can keep living and working there for years to come. The younger couple takes the lead in the manual labor and does most of the heavy lifting. Pedro has built some new structures, including rebuilding Margery's house earlier this year.
In the meantime, Margery keeps having breakfast with Pedro every day, working during the winters and serving the community she cares so much about for "as long as I can do it."