THMS Webcams!

A few years ago I did a feature photo shoot for Down East Magazine [see “Growing Minds” March 2009] about the Troy Howard Middle School Garden Project in Belfast, Maine. That initial assignment has taken me on an awesome journey: I created a year-long photo project in which I documented the Garden Project students, produced a multimedia piece about the Project for Down East, and held a solo-show, Learning to Grow: In the Garden with Troy Howard Middle School, at the Belfast library in March 2010.

My friend Jon, the Greenhouse Director, at the Troy Howard Middle School (THMS) in Belfast recently set up two webcams that capture what’s going on inside the greenhouse and outside in the garden throughout the day–and night! If you click on the image, it’ll open up to a large photo, and below it you’ll find a very cool time-lapse video. Jon made me blush by mentioning that my photo project inspired him!

So, what’s so special about THMS? Among many things, the school integrates learning in the garden into the curriculum through The Ecology Academy and The Garden Project.

The Ecology Academy: “. . . allows all of us—teachers, students, parents and community members to integrate what we are teaching and learning through the lens of ecology. We utilize our award-winning garden, not just as a work space, but also as a dynamic, organic classroom. Yes, the chores of sustaining a garden such as ours—22000 square feet (1/2 acre) of amazing growing potential—need to be done and some of the learning that accompanies this process are developing good, strong work habits, learning how to get along with others, and experiencing the satisfaction that naturally occurs when one does a good job. Strong self esteem is nurtured and blooms by the combination of working with our hands and our brains to complete a tangible, worthwhile project that we all have had a part in and we all feel proud.”

The Garden Project: “Our mission is to create a district wide agricultural project that promotes healthy living. At the Troy Howard Middle School we strive to integrate the school and its land with the community.

Our goal is to engage all students in a journey of discovery through gardening projects that achieve Maine science, math, technology and social studies learning results, produce nutritious food and pioneer action-research for sustainability. At the heart of the gardening program are the young people excited by making a real difference in their school and community.

The program provides RSU 20 educators a framework and activities that integrate gardening and our watershed within the curriculum. This is being achieved through teacher development workshops, school-community partnerships, in-class teaching that facilitates inquiry-based student projects (producing compost, earthworms, organic food, seeds, seedlings, knowledge and skills to share and sell), student-run businesses and community apprenticeships that grow empowered, academically successful young people.”

During the winter and spring months, the students sell their greens and other gorgeous Greenhouse goodies to the Belfast Co-op. Whenever I get the chance, I buy a bunch of their Swiss Chard, a most welcome rainbow of color during the long Maine winter. Last night we finished the remainder of a bunch. Hmm, time to get some more….

Maine Icons, Anyone?

There’s excitement in the air here at Casa Mayo. We just found out that the first book my husband, writer Matthew P. Mayo, and I did together, Maine Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Pine Tree State, is no longer up for pre-order at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, etc. … it’s available now!

Yessireebob, that’s 112 full-color, glossy pages of smokin’ fine photography and nifty words covering everything iconic in the Pine Tree State, from blueberries and lobsters to Raye’s Mustard, the Big Chicken Barn, and the humble spud — and so much more!

Look at that stunning cover image … you know you want a copy (or three)! Click here to fulfill your Maine desires….

A Team Effort

Nearly two years in the making, Maine Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Pine Tree State has been a labor of love for my husband and me. And we can finally share the cover with the world!

As the subtitle mentions, it consists of 50 classic symbols of the Pine Tree State. We profile the likely suspects—lobster, blueberries, lighthouses, whoopie pies, and so many more—but we think you’ll find a whole lot of surprises in these pages, too (Raye’s Mustard, Renys, and Fog? Oh, my!). This book is a visual and textual tour of our home state of Maine and we like to think the fun we had putting it together comes across in its pages.

The book is available for pre-order at Amazon right now (at a discounted price), though the official release isn’t until May 3, 2011. This book is a hardcover w/ dust sleeve, square format, 112 pages, full color, Globe Pequot Press; $16.95. Buy now and buy often! You’ll love it….

Loads of Good Stuff!

It’s been a busy summer here: Matt and I shipped Maine Icons: 50 Symbols of the Pine Tree State to our publisher Globe Pequot Press (due out Spring 2011!). We’ve begun work on two more Icons books, Vermont Icons and New Hampshire Icons, both due out in 2012.

Check out “Wilbur’s World,” in the September issue of Down East Magazine (pages 80-83). I was assigned the story last year and had a ball photographing the Blue Hill Fair. My shots accompany Elizabeth Peavey’s story.

In “Casting for the Light,” in the Summer/Fall issue of Western Art & Architecture magazine, you’ll find one of my portraits of artist Michael Stidham working in the Old Main Gallery in Bozeman, Montana.

The Autumn 2010 issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener (The Common Ground Fair issue) has one of my photographs of Jim Gerritsen of Wood Prairie Farm under the “Keynote Speaker” article on page 43.

And last but not least, I just finished the first part of an oral history project for the Western Writers of America. I proposed the project to the WWA Board in 2009 and with their approval, embarked on collecting oral history interviews and photographs of some of the WWA members during the 2009 WWA Convention in Oklahoma City. From some of the interviews, I created three multimedia pieces which you can view on Vimeo:

Down East Sails Up Town Exhibit

Come one, come all! I’ve been invited to participate in the “Down East Sails Up Town 2010 International Art Exhibition” curated by byDESIGN Gallery in Bangor, Maine. The Exhibition features 300 artists in 10 locations around Bangor and opens on August 20th, 21st, 22nd, 2010 at Pickering Square in Bangor.

The show runs through Saturday, October 2, 2o10. Two of my photographs, “Summer Frolic” and “Foggy Dawn” are in the exhibition. The exhibit’s theme is “What Down East means to me expressed through ART.” As soon as I know at which of the ten locations my photographs are displayed, I’ll post it here.

UPDATE: My work is on display at the Bangor City Hall, 73 Harlow Street, in Bangor, Maine.

LPI Photos in The New York Times

This week a few of my production stills from “Two Murders,” the pilot episode of Hidden Treasures of the Jesuits, were published in The New York Times in the story “A Mission Field Behind the Camera” by John Anderson. Hidden Treasures is a international television series that “brings the historical and cultural legacy of the Jesuits alive through drama, mystery, and intrigue.”

To find out more about the great work that LPI’s doing and view a trailer of the pilot episode, “Two Murders,” click here.

Judith Jones in Portland

As part of Maine Restaurant Week (March 1-10, 2010), at the Holiday Inn in Portland, I attended a lecture given by Judith Jones, the legendary Alfred A. Knopf editor who worked with Julia Child, James Beard, Jacques Pepin, Nina Simonds, and many more writers. Jones was the featured speaker for the Portland Museum of Art’s 2010 Bernard Osher Lecture. She’s also the author of numerous books including The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food, and her most recent, The Pleasures of Cooking for One.

Wow! What an amazing and inspiring woman. Jones is a terrific storyteller, and she told us some great tales about Julia Child and James Beard (one in particular had the audience in stitches as she recounted how, during a visit with Child in France, Child showed her how to remove a tendon from a goose which involved snapping off the foot at the ankle, hooking her finger around the tendon, putting the goose on the floor, holding it down with a broomstick handle with one hand, then with the other she tugged, and with one strong pull yanked the whole thing out!).

Some of the things I took away from her lecture were:

Don’t be afraid to try new things.

Stick with your convictions even if they’re not popular with your colleagues or friends.

How much she loves garlic.

It’s important to know how much to eat and when you’re full, stop. Even if there’s food left on your plate.

She’s very concerned about obesity, our food sources in America, and the American lifestyle of eating quick, fast food meals.

Food should be respected and savored.

Cooking keeps your brain working—doing two or three things at once keeps your noggin active.

When cooking for one use smaller pans!

After the lecture Jones signed her books at the Portland Museum of Art. She was kind enough to let me sit by her while she signed my book and had a photo taken of us (thanks, Marj and Judith!). If you ever get the chance to attend a lecture or book signing by this inspiring lady, all I can say is, “go!”

For more, check out Keith Shortall’s interview with Jones for Maine Public Radio. Or Judith Jones’ website.

Multimedia: A Visit to the Garden Project

View A Visit to The Garden Project from Jennifer Smith-Mayo on Vimeo.

In the summer 2007, I received a photo assignment from Down East Magazine to cover a story about students in the Garden Project at the Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast, Maine [see DEM, March 2009]. What began as a regular assignment quickly developed into a longer, more involved project. I spent nearly two years photographing the students, teachers, and Garden. During the summer 2008, I also collected audio interviews with some of the students and teachers. To accompany the photo assignment, DEM commissioned me to produce a multimedia project, this video, “A Visit to The Garden Project.”