Mountain Workshops 2014 / by Guillermo Hernandez Martinez

Sunrise clouds are reflected in a pond at Richmond Battlefield Park near Richmond, Ky. on Oct. 24, 2014. The site was witness to the Battle of Richmond in 1862, the first major Civil War engagement of the Kentucky Campaign and a complete Confederate victory. The victory allowed them to move farther North towards Lexington during the Kentucky Campaign, which would eventually end with Confederate forces withdrawing out of Ky. into Knoxville.

The "John Craig" ferry boat lays moored on Oct. 24, 2014 in the Kentucky River at the site of the Valley View Ferry, a free service which connects the Kentucky counties of Madison, Jessamine and Fayette. The ferry had been closed recently due to a scheduled U.S. Coast Guard inspection, and it is set to reopen within the next two weeks.

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."

Margery Baldwin owns and operates Baldwin Farms near Richmond, Ky., a property that serves as farm, dwelling and agritourism business for her and her adopted family. Baldwin spends a large part of her day at the farm's cash register, where she interacts with Baldwin Farms patrons, most of whom visit to pick their own pumpkins or cut down their own Christmas trees, depending on the season. 

Co-Co the dog seems content as Margery Baldwin pets him before local school children arrive on a field trip to Baldwin Farms. Co-Co and three other dogs roam freely throughout the farm, keeping Margery and her costumers company.

Pedro Vargas Sanchez (left) and Margery Baldwin hold hands and say a blessing over their food. They have had breakfast together and shared a blessing almost every day since Pedro started working with Margery at Baldwin Farms a little over 17 years ago. Baldwin's husband Ty was part of the tradition until his passing in 2007.

Margery Baldwin (right) shares a laugh with friends and helpers Rene Feddes (left) and Adolfina "Maria" Vargas (center) as they get ready to welcome more than 100 elementary school children on a field trip to Baldwin Farms. Vargas is married to Pedro Vargas Sanchez, with whom she lives in a house inside the Baldwin Farms property.The Vargas family has become Baldwin's closest friends and hardest workers, taking over most of the hard labor required to keep the farm running.

Margery Baldwin smiles during breakfast, which she shares daily with Pedro Vargas Sanchez every day since he started working at Baldwin Farms over 17 years ago. Vargas Sanchez does most of the labor not only around the farm but even inside Baldwin's house, which he completely rebuilt earlier this year.

Margery Baldwin shares a ATV drive with Tryon "Ty" Vargas, the son of Pedro Vargas Sanchez, her farmhand and close friend. Margery calls Ty, who is named after Baldwin's late husband, her grandson, and she takes him with her to church every week.

Pedro Vargas Sanchez (right) and Margery Baldwin finish their morning tradition by hugging inside Baldwin's kitchen after finishing breakfast. After this, Vargas Sanchez will head out to the field for most of the day and Baldwin will take care of the agritourism side of Baldwin Farms.

Margery Baldwin and one of her four dogs, Red, walk the property near Richmond that she and her husband, Ty, bought 37 years ago. At 69, Baldwin knows she can't do as much as she used to around the farm and will have to stop working entirely 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.