Originally designed to house the Southwest Detroit Hospital, which was closed in 1993, it was sold to Detroit businessman Harley K. Brown who re-opened the building as United Community Hospital. It was sitting vacant for nine years when I arrived in mid-January 2015 for our feature series Inside Detroit.
In this globalized world of consumption we live in, rarely do we stop to think about where our goods actually come from, who cultivated them or what life is like for the people at the beginning of the production chain. When you open a pack of sugar and empty it into your tea or coffee, do you ever consider the process of how that sugar ended up on your table? Do you ever think about what the people are like at each step of the production: the cultivators of the fields, the owners of the land, the processing plant workers, the packaging designers, the marketing team, the distributors, the transporters, the wholesalers, the retailers, and ultimately you, the consumer? I do all the time, to the point where I make up complete stories in my mind that could turn into a screenplay.
The mission of the Female Farmer Project is to document the rise of women in agriculture. I share the images and the stories of women who farm. Some of these women are first generation farmers who come from the corporate world; lawyers, anthropologists, executives, scientists who are bringing a unique skill set to the farm. Some are third or fourth generation farmers but bring a new vision and fresh ideas and are responding to the needs of today's economy by diversifying the farm income.