This film was directed and produced by Sarah Culver as part of the Virginia Food Heritage Planning course at the University of Virginia, Department of Urban and Environmental Planning in Spring 2012.
Interview with Ida Knight – Albemarle County – Interview Story
By Sarah Culver
From even the brief time I had the opportunity to talk with Ida Knight, it is apparent that her life growing up on a family farm in Halifax, North Carolina was a rich one. She valued the time she was able to spend outdoors gathering food and other crops with her siblings, which is a surprisingly fond memory of her childhood chore of picking cotton. Her description of the food and livestock her family raised, preserved, and prepared was simple, conveying the impression that this was simply the way it was, with no fuss about it.
One of my favorite moments in the interview was when she was talking about her favorite food as child, shelled butterbeans. I asked if her mother prepared this in any particular way, to which she responded, “Oh no, nothing particular…” and then launched into a detailed description of the process. She would often listen in detail the many crops her family produced, and how little they had to rely on store-bought goods for sustenance.
Her story is definitely one of plenty, which is interesting given the historical context, as the entirety of her childhood took place during the Great Depression. Although she enjoyed her childhood on a farm, life and love took her away to live in Baltimore and Charlottesville for long periods of her life, where she said she felt less of a connection to her food. She continued to cook for her family for most of her life, until their insistence that it was too much work for her standing in front of the stove. She spoke with pride how she was sure her children learned to cook (even the boys!) and how one of her great-granddaughters is learning to cook with her today.
For more about the Virginia Food Heritage Planning course, visit http://ien.arch.virginia.edu/courses/food-systems-resources.