A few months ago, a singing group I belong to was invited to the Terra Madre conference in Italy, a gathering about sustainable farming and food production. I knew we would meet folks who might not have any idea what “America’s Heartland” means.
So, I put out a call for photos to several friends and neighbors who are farmers or market gardeners. I would create a scrapbook to show people this place we call Home. Never mind that I’d never done a scrapbook in my life. I had help! I had Traci and Gina.
Traci Smith, one of our CAPPER’S editors, is the scrapbooking queen, as a quick look at her articles on Pages 40 and 45 shows. Gina Souders works next door at The Herb Companion and also can lay claim to scrapbook royalty. Traci steered me to the scrapbooking section of a hobby store, and we spent an hour or so picking out paper and various doodads to decorate the pages.
The hardest part of the project was getting my farm pals to send photos. When we finally had what we needed, I put the word out for a lunchtime scrapbook party.
It turned out to be one of my favorite times here at our office. About 10 people showed up, and we glued, taped and cut so enthusiastically I felt as though I were in elementary school. We ended up with a lovely book of Kansas and Missouri scenes.
I had two moments when I almost second-guessed myself out of sharing the book. First was while packing – the book was going to be a heavy tote through airports. Second was when I was in Italy and first pulled the book from my suitcase. Maybe people will think it’s too corny for words, I thought.
As it turned out, the scrapbook was one of the highlights of our trip. I loved the expression on people’s faces as they looked at the photos of our gardens, fields, chickens, cattle – and even some bison. The book broke the ice, put human faces on this bunch of Americans in their midst, and got us an invitation to an old family farm.
Just before we left, we gave the scrapbook to the families who had hosted us so kindly during our visit. The most rewarding thing about making the scrapbook was seeing their expressions when we gave them our Heartland gift.
Editor in Chief