In 2014, artist and photographer Amelia Fletcher was in a dead-end job in the concrete confines of Chicago when she realized she yearned for something else. "I missed the kind of life that is more in tune with nature," she said in an interview. Fletcher quit her job and, with the help of funding from an Indiegogo campaign, set off with her camera to capture an American adventure.
The open road. | Texas | (Amelia Fletcher)
Spring piglets waiting for slop. | Fayetteville, Arkansas | (Amelia Fletcher)
Fletcher grew up on a small farm in North Carolina and her five-month cross-country trip was designed to reconnect her with those farming roots. Through the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, Fletcher was matched with six farms in Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico, California, Washington, and Maine. She would stay one to two weeks, trading labor for a place to stay and fresh meals to eat. "[It's humbling] to have complete strangers invite you into their homes and teach you about what they do," she said.
Fletcher's farming work ranged from animal chores (feeding, collecting eggs, taking cows to pasture) and vegetable gardening (weeding, planting, harvesting) to cheese-making and mushroom foraging. While staying on a farm run by a Native American in Taos, New Mexico, Fletcher took part in a ritual conducted at the start of the corn season. Before planting began, the farmers would say a prayer and honor the land's role in the crop. "[The farmer] spoke about the importance of asking the earth to raise our seeds instead of expecting it," she said. "I was so honored to have been included in that experience and I'll never forget it."
The kindness Fletcher felt from hard-working farmers, strangers on the road, and friends offering her a place to crash is reflected in her final collection, An American Adventure. Her photos take advantage of the soft, natural light of the outdoors, giving each frame a tone as warm and inviting as a strip of sunlight on a cloudy day. Below, enjoy a selection from Fletcher's travels across America's farmland:
John in his camper on the mesa. | New Mexico | (Amelia Fletcher)
A fellow volunteer. | Bastrop, Texas | (Amelia Fletcher)
A laying hen. | Willits, California | (Amelia Fletcher)
Jackets in a farmhouse doorway. | Pownal, Maine | (Amelia Fletcher)
Freshly laid eggs. | North Carolina | (Amelia Fletcher)
Ira leading dairy cows home from the pasture. | Fayetteville, Arkansas | (Amelia Fletcher)
Peeling and winnowing black beans. | Taos, New Mexico | (Amelia Fletcher)
Freshly picked heirloom tomatoes. | Poenal, Maine | (Amelia Fletcher)
A new baby chick. | Fayetteville, Arkansas | (Amelia Fletcher)
A galloping horse across a pasture. | Moab, Utah | (Amelia Fletcher)