- Associated Press - Saturday, December 19, 2015

CULLMAN, Ala. (AP) - Photographer D. Paul Jones, III set out to chronicle the lives of some of Alabama’s hardest-working farmers - so not surprisingly - his mission brought him to Cullman County quite a bit.

Jones spent 2015 traveling to the farms of more than 30 rural farmers across Alabama, taking photographs of their families, their craft, and of course their food. The culmination of his efforts comes in the form of a hardbound, full-color book called Know Thy Farmer, featuring full-page photo spreads and profiles written by Southern Living alum Tanner Latham. The project was an extension of the Market at Pepper Place farmers market in Birmingham, and every farmer featured is a regular at Pepper Place. The concept grew from a small exhibit to a collection of dozens of photographs that would eventually make up Know Thy Farmer.

Cullman area farmers featured in the project include Lawrence Calvert of Grandview, Dwight Hamm of Cullman, Trent Boyd of Fairview, Christine and Tammy Hinke of Good Hope, Elizabeth and Scott Sandlin of Holly Pond, chef Frank Stitt, and others. The cover of the book actually features a full-size shot of Lawrence Calvert at his potato farm. Stitt, a renowned chef and Cullman native, co-founded the market and wrote the book’s introduction.

Jones told The Times the project was born from his connection doing marketing work for the farmers market, and he wanted to celebrate the people who make up the heart of Pepper Place.

“I went out with a friend, and we were shooting around ideas, trying to find a way to do something different to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the market,” he said. “We wanted to do something unique, and it came down to ‘What is the market really about?’ It’s the farmers. So, we decided to put their faces forward. When we started, I looked back through the shots and realized this was getting a little bigger than we thought it would be. From there, the idea for a book just organically happened.”

After spending more than a year winding his way through the foothills of rural Alabama, Jones said he came away with several new friends and a fascinating new perspective about family and life in Alabama.

“It was just a blast. I always wanted to do a road trip around where I grew up, and it was such a great experience to meet all these hardworking farmers,” he said. “I got to hang out at their houses and meet their families. Now, a lot of them have become friends, as well as clients.”

The book is available to purchase online at Pepperplacemarket.com. It is also available in some local bookstores.


Information from: The Cullman Times, https://www.cullmantimes.com

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