National Geographic : 2011 Jul
EDITOR'S NOTE PHOTO: ROYAL INSTITUTION OF CORNWALL Regard for the land runs deep in photographer Jim Richardson's life. When he flies over the fields of Cornwall, England, he feels the pull of places his ancestors farmed. He's even visited the homestead of his Celtic ancestors, who lived when Anglo-Saxons arrived in what would become England. His parents were descendants of other immigrants, drawn to the Kansas plains, where they could farm on a scale unimaginable in England. Jim was not destined to con- tinue his family's farming tradition. He was destined to document it, as this month's story on heirlooms shows. The article explains that the diversity of heirloom breeds is critical to ensuring our food supply and that a wide range of heirlooms is the best bet against disease and drought. Such themes resonate with Jim. "My emotional landscape is forever haunted by the impera- tive of rain, shaped in childhood by parents who wondered when it would rain, and if not---what would they do?" he said. "Some children fear divorce. I feared drought, the one thing that could destroy the security of a childhood life on the farm." For Jim, love of the land is elemental. Picture him in Ethiopia, seeing men harvesting oats by hand with sickles---a scene "straight out of some medieval tapestry," he says. Such hard work must be unrelenting drudgery, he thought. He got closer. "They were singing. This was the same land where hundreds of thousands died during the famine, yet there was joy in their voices and laughter." So Jim Richardson, who speaks the same language of the land as those harvesters, found himself laughing as well. Deep Roots Cornwall kin of Jim Richardson gathered in 1882. The boy being held grew up to be Jim's grandfather. For Jim, love of the land is elemental. MAGAZINE OF THE YEAR National Geographic won twice at the 2011 National Magazine Awards, receiving the "Ellie" (above) for best single-topic issue (April 2010's "The Water Issue") and for Magazine of the Year.