Personal projects are good for my soul. They help satisfy the longing to create, to know, to learn and to discover. I am so glad I approached MaryLindsay in the coffee shop and asked if I could photograph her (without knowing her). I knew of her husband Graham through college, and had seen their wedding photos and knew I wanted to photograph them. Kind of like the Annie Leibovitz quote, “When I say I want to photograph someone, what it really means is that I'd like to know them." They graciously invited me to their home and the farm where MaryLindsay works, Green Door Gourmet.
Rachel: MaryLindsay, I originally wanted to photograph you and Graham because I was drawn towards your simple, natural lifestyle, and curious to learn more about you two and your approach to life. Has your lifestyle been a conscious decision for you?
MaryLindsay: I would say we have made conscious decisions like moving to the country, and taking responsibility for the food we eat. We definitely decided before we got married that we wanted to learn to be as self-sufficient as possible from making our own food from scratch, to raising our meat animals, growing fruits and veggies, making cleaning products and using herbs and fermented foods to help heal our bodies.
Rachel: Where are each of you from, and how did you meet?
MaryLindsay: We are both North Carolinians; I'm from Greensboro and Graham's from Apex. We actually met in Nashville through mutual friends and were kind of "set-up" by our friend RH. I called him to help me move some furniture I bought from The Salvation Army one day, and he said he was busy but told me to call his roommate Graham who also had a truck. Because I didn't know Graham I was pretty hesitant, but ended up calling him anyways! I will never forget that day he pulled up in his old truck with a dreamcatcher hanging from the rearview mirror… the rest is history.
Rachel: Tell us about Green Door Gourmet, your decision to go work on the farm, and if "un-plugging" and working with the soil and your hands has changed anything for you.
MaryLindsay: Green Door is a farm about 15 minutes from West Nashville. We grow organic method fruits, herbs and veggies as well as have a few bee hives. Its also a farm-coop and on-farm market 5 days a week. Green Door was the gateway into the whole farming lifestyle for me. I originally moved to Nashville to go to art school and study photography, but finished a year of school only to find out it was pretty far from what I wanted to be doing. So I asked around for work before I quit school, and a few weeks later started working at Green Door. That was three years ago when it was a few acres of veggies and my friend Harry managing it.
My job has changed me in a lot of ways. The most evident is that I've realized I could never be happy working at a desk! Being outside in the dirt, "unplugged" has become a necessity for my wellbeing.
Rachel: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
Graham: I'm pretty content in the South as is. We have a climate that is perfect for year-round gardening and food production that many other locales are not blessed with, yet we also get to experience the changing of the seasons.
Rachel: Your character-filled house is featured in some of the photos. What's the story behind it again?
MaryLindsay: We are renting it currently, but it was built by hand in the 70's by a cat-loving German man named Henry. When he passed away our landlord said there were so many cats. So in honor of him we have named one of our kittens "Henrietta.”. The window boxes are very German, and the full-wall forest mural is our favorite part about the living room.
Rachel: Do you and Graham have any shared dreams or goals for where you see yourself down the road?
MaryLindsay: Yes! Our goal is to be able to sustainably farm our own piece of land full-time and make a reasonable living. We'd like to raise a wide variety of fruits, veggies, herbs and animals while also making other crafts like soaps, cheese and hand-forged blacksmith products. In the short term we are interested in selling rabbit and chicken meat, eggs and anything else we can grow.
Rachel: Thanks for the newest Westbound Rangers CD, I'm loving it! Don't you have a local show coming up this month?
ML and Graham- thanks for being so willing to collaborate with me on this project and for giving me a glimpse into your lives. You are such kind people. I am grateful!