At the heart of Red Earth Farm is the beautifully restored circa-1850 Pearson Farmhouse. According to Kent Pearson: Laurence Pearson (1831-1911), a carpenter and joiner, did indeed build the house which was owned and occupied by four generations of the Pearson family. Laurence was the son of John Pearson (1777-1857) of Pennsylvania, who established the family in Tattnall County in the early 1800’s. John built the first sawmill in the area on Slaughter Creek when he purchased a 1000 acre parcel of virgin timber land in 1832 for the princely sum of $1,200, where the family homestead and farm were located. Laurence’s brother, John (Jr), was also a carpenter. Between them, they built a number of houses in the area. And according to John P. Rabun, Jr., John Pearson and George Merriman built a Greek Revival courthouse in Reidsville in 1857.
Today the farm is home to Janisse Ray & Raven Waters. Janisse is a well-known environmental activist and author. My family came to know her when her first book was published and we’ve always supported her views on protecting and sustaining the fragile environment of our native South Georgia. (Ecology of a Cracker Childhood; Wild Card Quilt; Pinhook; Moody Swamp; Drifting into Darien; and The Seed Underground are among her works.) Raven oversees the operations of the farm and leads a variety of workshops on topics as diverse as home brewing and cheese-making. I recently attended one of his beer-making classes and it was great fun, Raven also sells produce and handmade sodas at the Mainstreet Statesboro Farmers Market. Oh, and he’s an accomplished potter and artist, as well.
When I made these photographs, winter greens were growing. Red Earth Farm is an organic farm, so everything that doesn’t get eaten goes back into the earth. It’s an inspiring model of sustainable agriculture.
Jersey Calves Winona and Wendell were very interested in my camera. Most of the larger animals at Red Earth Farm are named for authors and activists.
Barbados Blackbelly “Sojourner” and Katahdin “Mahatma”. Barbados Blackbellies and Katahdins are hair sheep varieties tolerant of heat; after many years of decline in numbers, both seem to be recovering.
Guineas are an old-time favorite on South Georgia farms and are often considered the “watchdogs of the barnyard” for their habit of calling loudly at any disturbance. And they’re very attentive.
There are many more things to share but for now I’ll end with my favorite resident of Red Earth Farm, this Royal Palm Turkey, known as Cochise. He’s more a friendly pet than a turkey.