Geographically, California is more than 94% rural. Despite that statistic from the 2010 census, many residents consider rural California the stretch of the 5 Freeway between San Francisco and Los Angeles.
That discovery was a bit disconcerting for agriculture writer and photographer Lisa M. Hamilton. So two years ago she logged close to 10,000 miles traveling from her home in Marin County to the far-flung destinations of Modoc County, Raisin City and Lost Hills. With her infant daughter in tow she gathered stories and photographed locales and landscapes she identified as "places where the culture and the economy are defined by the direct use of natural resources."
"For me, agriculture was this truly fascinating connection to the world around me and has fascinated me for 20 years," said Hamilton, author of "Deeply Rooted: Unconventional Farmers in the Age of Agribusiness."
The results from her cross-state exploration (funded with a grant from Creative Work Fund) were presented in a storytelling website (realrural.org) and an ad campaign on Bay Area Rapid Transit. This caught the attention of the California Historical Society in San Francisco, which was launching "Curating California," a new program that invites artists, poets and historians to dig through their vast collection to find inspiration for an exhibition.