Do You Know Who Grew Your Food?
When she moved to Houston in 2016, Amy Scott had been working as a farmer for 10 years in regions across the U.S. It took her a while to find a job here, but she eventually got on as a farm manager at Hope Farms in Sunnyside. And soon she started to realize that amid the maze of highways and skyscrapers, there’s some amazing food being produced in these parts.
“I had farmed in California, New Jersey, and New York. Still, I didn’t realize how different it really could be,” says Scott. “It really is a different world farming in the Gulf Coast.”
Scott eventually left farming and took up photography—landing assignments for publications including Houstonia—but she remained fascinated by our farms and ranches, which are, in many ways, hiding in plain sight. And so she decided to chronicle the lives of local growers, applying for, and winning, a $15,000 grant from the Houston Arts Alliance and the City of Houston to fund the project.
In January Scott started spending days at a time with each of her subjects, who—among others—include goat dairy farmers Lisa and Christian Seger of Blue Heron Farm, rice farmer Scott Savage of Triangle Rice Farm, crawfish farmer Alan Gaulding of Southeast Texas Crawfish Farms, and farm manager Zay Gamez of Finca Tres Robles Urban Farm in the Second Ward.
The result is her photo exhibit “The Hands That Feed Houston,” on display this month at Flatland Gallery at Brasil Café in Montrose. There’s an intimacy to the images, perhaps because as a farmer herself, Scott was able to win her subjects’ trust. “If she didn’t have the farming background, then I’m not sure I would let her follow me around,” says Gamez, who uses the pronouns they/them. “She knows more of the flow of the day, the expectations.”
Photos of Gamez show them pulling crops from the ground, watering vegetables and herbs inside a greenhouse, working Tres Robles’s weekly farm stand, and taking breaks for coffee and meditation. “Everybody eats,” they add, “but not many people consider where their food is coming from.”
Scott agrees, and says she hopes her photography inspires more Houstonians to consider the provenance of what they’re eating. “That means getting up early on a Saturday to buy consistently from a farmers’ market,” she says, “or just asking.”
In companion with the exhibit, the gallery will host two events: a Nov. 5 screening of Show Your Goods, a documentary about local farming by Atlas Diner chef Richard Knight, and a Nov. 10 “farmer-to-our-table” dinner cooked by chef Evelyn Garcia, most recently of Decatur Bar and Pop-Up Factory, where some of Scott’s subjects will talk about their work and take a well-deserved turn in the spotlight.
The Hands That Feed Houston, Nov. 3–11 at Flatland Gallery, Brasil Café in Montrose.