This film was directed and produced by Judith Yang as part of the Virginia Food Heritage Planning course at the University of Virginia, Department of Urban and Environmental Planning
Farming as Identity, with Sandra Sullivan – Greene County – Interview Story
by Judith Yang
Giddy with excitement, Sandra Sullivan ushered me into her dining room. She was ready to immediately start sharing her many stories, asking me how much longer it would take to set up the camera. Asking one question was enough to trigger Sandra’s memories.
Sandra has been a lifelong resident of Greene County. She grew up on a farm on South River Road—just down the road from her current residence. With the help of her older brother, Sandra recounted what life on the farm was like for her and her family. The Sullivan Farm’s main cash crops were corn and wheat, but they grew a diverse array of other fruits and vegetables for themselves. In fact, Sandra and her family subsisted wholly off of their garden, fruit and nut trees and livestock. Even though her family ate seasonally, Sandra was still able to enjoy various treasures out-of-season as a result of canning. For example, Sandra’s all-time favorite was a good ‘ol yellow peach. Surprisingly, she was able to enjoy peaches year-round— freshly picked ones during the summer and canned ones in the winter.
Growing up on a farm didn’t just mean that she was readily able to eat a bounty of fresh fruit. It also meant that she had to do her share of chores. Sandra described all her responsibilities as “short-people jobs”. From picking the seeds to helping her father and mother plant, Sandra did her part to help her family and the farm run smoothly.
Although it has been a significant amount of time since Sandra’s father sold the family farm, Sandra still dreams about it and wishes that she still lived that lifestyle. Sandra identifies herself through her childhood farm, insisting that it will always be a part of her.
in Spring 2012.
For more about the Virginia Food Heritage Planning course, visit http://ien.arch.virginia.edu/courses/food-systems-resources.