Growing up, growing food

Combine food with the stories of the people who raise it and you have the sweet combination that is the Forsyth Farmers' Almanac, a collection of stories and photos currently on exhibit at The Sentient Bean.

The project is the brainchild of Mixed Greens, a diverse group of Savannahians who work on ways to make the weekly Forsyth Farmers' Market more welcoming.

The group began meeting at Williams Court about two years ago, and when residents of that elderly housing facility sat in on the gatherings, they shared their own experiences growing up on family farms or as sharecroppers.

"We'd talk about the market and they'd talk about growing up on a farm," said Teri Schell, the market's co-founder and coordinator.

Those serendipitous encounters sparked the idea for the Forsyth Farmers' Almanac.

"We put two and two together and decided to collect stories," Schell said.

The first portraits and story snippets of more than a dozen farmers and gardeners are on display all month at The Sentient Bean.

The subjects are diverse - black and white, male and female and ranging in age from 3 to oldern than 85.

Some farmed out of necessity, while others grew food for the awe of seeing seeds sprout. They shared not only personal histories but also family recipes and tips.

"That's where the idea of an almanac came from," Schell said.

Tammy Kenkel, a service coordinator at Williams Court who worked on the almanac, said the stories have drawn her closer to residents. At the opening night exhibit Nov. 1, Kenkel and two of her interview subjects compared notes on foods they'd never tried.

"Ms. Burke and Ms. Ford found out I had never tried pig's feet," she said. "So now they'll try quinoa and I'll try the pig's feet."

Kenkel sees the exhibit as an "excellent opportunity for people to see that people around them, really everyone, has a story to tell."

"Hopefully, it will encourage people to ask about those stories," Kenkel said.

The Forsyth Farmers' Almanac is a work in progress, with at least 17 farmers from the weekly market still to be profiled, Schell said. The Mixed Greens plans to collect more stories and photos and grow its collection online.

"It's really not the end," Schell said. "It's more of a beginning."