Tag Archives: the great pumpkin patch

Projecting

In a what feels like Herculean effort to finish out this iteration of the Backyard Industry Video Project, I’ve been reviewing a lot of footage.

Phil Orr

For awhile it was chicken coops and the people who build them, like Phil (that’s him above). That video is allllllmost finished, though, so lately I’ve been looking at Shana and Mac from The Great Pumpkin Patch, transcribing their interviews by hand because I know of no other way.

Shana Condill of TGPP

Mac Condill

One thing I’ve discovered about this particular creative situation: I wish it was all I did. I really do love coming up with a story to tell, planning shoots, going on shoots, doing interviews, gathering B-roll, looking at it later and transcribing it, and going through the first part of the process of getting that story told. I love it to the point of feeling guilty and like I don’t deserve to be taking the time to do it. Often I’ll walk away from it for awhile, too overwhelmed by the fact that I’m doing something fun instead of cleaning or something else I “should” be doing. True story!

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The second part of getting that story told is stitching those Post-Its together into a video in editing – re-creating the show open, smoothing transitions between “chapters”, adding graphics, adding music, making cuts, finding that exactly-right bit of footage to cover someone’s voice, etc. While I know this part happens, and it’s definitely fun… I rarely participate – at least, not in person. A lot of it happens over email.

With our current setup, Tim and I have pretty much been siloed in our work – we work together on the BYI project, but separately, mostly, on the creative side. We also end up doing things backwards or sideways sometimes because of a) my ignorance, b) time issues, and c) “real job” constraints/ups and downs/curveballs. In a perfect world, our partnership would be more like a Venn diagram than two separate circles, but it’s what we’ve got for now. I’m very proud of the work we’ve done and are doing, but I’m always like, this could have been so much better. I wish we had asked/gotten _____ or _____. It kind of goes back to my recent entry about planning, though I would also add process. I can plan all I want, but if I don’t have a process, I’m hosed – “hosed” meaning, in this case, submitting (and settling for) work that could have been SO MUCH BETTER.

Words like planning and process still give me hives, you guys. I’ve somehow always had the subconscious notion that you’re not truly creative if you rely on structure to create a finished product. Like, since I was a kid, I’ve had this idea. Where did this come from? Watching other people make it look easy or something? Like they didn’t have a process or a plan? NEVER have I found out the opposite to be more true than working in audio/video production. I know both Tim and I have learned plenty from this experience, not just about process and planning, but also about partnership and trust.

I know that most of the other stuff I want to work on (including one official work project) will benefit from these things I’ve learned re: planning and process:

The BYI podcast, which I swear to god is coming by June at the latest
The writing Troy asked me to do for Innocent Words (I’ll link when the first one is ready)
The project I still want to work on with Alisa from Prairie Fruits Farm

RELATED: I was thinking about Cody and his work (as I often do) and have marveled at the way he seems to be harnessing together, at age 22, all the things thatI believe must go into transforming ideas into something tangible:

Talent/ability/knowledge
A network
Vision

Lilly, for her part, is masterful at time management and is truly gifted in many ways, including seeing things – literal and figurative angles and connections – that others cannot see. The more they grow up, the more I learn from them, that’s for damn sure.

LOTSA (Lisa’s Open Tabs Saved Aggressively):

I was sad reading about the Target layoffs

I loved this video of an elephant joining an elephant sanctuary

I tried a YouTube yoga class

On Being A Badass

What does Indiana men’s basketball coach Tom Crean look like?

Mixtape of Arabic songs from the 60s/70s

Really long long read about David Foster Wallace that I ended up not finishing (haha)

10 Women Paving the Way in Digital Journalism and Tech

Another World in 45 Minutes

Backyard Industry (Tim Meyers on camera and me asking questions) decided the best way to spend a sunny early fall day would be to spend it here.

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(That treeline right there marks the highest point in Moultrie County.)

Actually, we planned this visit to The Great Pumpkin Patch in Arthur, IL weeks ago. In September in Illinois, however, one just never knows with the weather; you take your chances when you schedule an outdoor shoot. Today was clear, warm, and dry. Perfect, really. We were pinching ourselves.

Here’s what getting there is like:

Leave Urbana-Champaign on highway 57 (or, if you’re us, you take Rt. 45 through Tolono and Pesotum until you hit 57). Drive past Tuscola and start seeing signs for various attractions in Arcola, like Rockome Gardens. Exit the highway at Arcola, and start the drive through town, which is when the horse-drawn buggies become evident – suddenly, it’s pretty serious Amish country. Drive through Chesterville. Note the laundry on the line and enormous gardens. More buggies. The air is redolent with the scent of horse poo. Once arriving in Arthur, there are not only buggies co-existing with cars – the Amish are also avid cyclists. (And when I say avid, I mean Amish gents of all ages are on recumbent bikes that fit right in with those in “bike friendly” towns like Urbana or Champaign. Women were on bikes, too, though we didn’t see any riding recumbent bikes. Anyway.) Hang a left in the middle of town, just before the county line, drive (or buggy, or bike) a couple miles, take a right, and there’s TGPP, on the left. It can’t be missed this time of year – there are lots of signs coaxing visitors in last quarter mile, and a huge field of potted chrysanthemums is visible from the intersection. But there’s also this: Fields of drying corn and soybeans are everywhere, but the lack of corn and beans sets TGPP apart. They grow pumpkins, yes, but they also grow squash – hundreds of varieties of squash from all over the world. They sell seeds for these amazing vegetables. There’s also the all-day, every-day bakeathon in a bakery on the premises. It’s like arriving on another planet in about 45 minutes.

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(How cool is this thing?)

The Condill family has been there, on that same land, living and growing food and raising families and going out into the world and coming back, since the 1850s. In 2012, the Summer of Drought, I went down to interview Mac Condill, whom I suppose I’d title as The Main Guy, for Backyard Industry Radio – you can hear it here. (It was an excellent year for pumpkins, as I recall.) I’d known Mac’s brother and sister-in-law, Kit and Emily, for a few years, and Mac and I had corresponded over booth details for Urbana’s Market at the Square when I was working there; I’d also worked with Ginny, Mac’s wife, and Shana, his sister-in-law, to bring TGPP’s educational efforts to Sprouts at the Market. Mac’s parents still live on the farm (and  officially own the businesses) and the other Condills are close by. In short, they’re incredibly nice people, generous with their time and their premises (and trusting, jeez – they gave us our own golf cart to get around), and they run a beautiful operation designed to give guests, many of whom have no connection to a farm or rural life whatsoever, a gentle – but subtly powerful – on-farm experience.

And that is precisely what I love about them, and why we wanted to produce a video there. They’re happy to have you if you want to buy decorative gourds and mums, and they’re happy to have you if you want to spend the day there meandering the grounds and relaxing, but either way, you’re going to leave knowing a little more about heirloom squash and biodiversity whether you realize it or not. They want to meet you where you are. They do not look like farmers. They’re not Amish. They’re a highly-educated and well-traveled bunch who are very well-known in seed and farming/gardening circles. They’ve built walls of squash at the White House and have encouraged Martha Stewart to smash a pumpkin (she obliges at 5:15 in this video). They’re deeply respected by their communities – the local community, the farming community, and the local food community – and that respect is mutual, in part because they have elected to stay, when so many others got out of farming as soon as they could, not seeing potential or, in many cases, not being able to diversify.

The words “passion” and “empowerment” regarding what they do came up again and again in interviews and conversation today. “Are you guys for real?” I asked, but I wasn’t serious. It was evident on their faces and in their eyes as they talked that they are, indeed, for real.