How and What to Preserve

When we went to speak with Gwen Hebron-Reese about the Sugarland Ethno-History Project, I happened to be reading A Taste of Country Cooking by Edna Lewis.

As Hebron-Reese spoke about turning farm chores into games with her brothers and sisters, and remembered the shared community efforts of seasonal gleaning and preserving, Lewis’ recollections and recipes of growing up in a freedmans’ community in Virginia came to life at the corner of Sugarland Road and Sugarland Lane. 

Sugarland was founded by Hebron-Reese’s great-grandfather and as the community dwindled she was moved to captured it before it disappeared from memory. And just as Lewis documented her community with recipes, Hebron-Reese is using land, buildings, oral histories, and artifacts. 

It’s an effort that fits well within the Agricultural Reserve, itself an act of preservation that allows growth into the future as new farmers and generational farmers continue an active rural economy. Land, building, recipes, people—it’s what we hope to document in Bread & Beauty.

The extraordinary photo is by Martin Radigan, who's landscapes and portraits are featured in Bread & Beauty.