I grew up the youngest daughter on a small family farm, and was rooted in the ground by strong women. Now, as an adult, my heart is never far from the land. After moving to the Appalachian foothills of Athens, Ohio, stories of women and land routinely sparked something inside of me. I found myself constantly drawn toward the female characters I met that had deep and inspiring relationships with land; modern women reinventing classic roles as cultivators, tenders, providers, and protectors of the land. The more I looked, the more I continued to see a trend of women leading the land movement; fighting extractive and environmentally degrading industry in Appalachia, starting sustainable and community-oriented farms, leading the food-security movement, cultivating herbal medicine practices, and much more. 

While searching for historical stories of women and land in Appalachia, my frustrations grew with how difficult a search it actually was; stories of women’s contributions and work with land certainly exist, but comparatively, the amount of recorded history documenting specifically women’s accomplishments in terms of land is undeniably deficient. This truly a complicated issue, tangled in a history of marginalization in this region; a history of this country's greatest resources - fertile land, large water systems, minerals, and soulful women - being used as fuel and forgotten when it comes time for recognition. Volumes could be written on all of the political, social, economic and gender-oriented reasons why women have been poorly recognized for their accomplishments. I decided to do something different; to celebrate the stories of these modern women and their powerful connections to land and to explore what has been, and is continuing to be women’s legacy with land in the Northern-Central Appalachian region. 

How does the land influence the woman and how does the woman influence the land?

This project is participatory. Meaning, it asks everyone to tell the story. Unlike traditional documentary, the boundaries between storyteller and subject were blurred. There are people inside and out, telling the story from different perspectives, together. For the stories that I help tell, the women in them took photos as well, and have had the space to talk about their lives as they see it.

Please stay tuned for more of the project, to see more of the other women's photographs, and to hear the women’s voices. 

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