Smith Farms hosts "Celebrate Our Farming Heritage" tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon. On Sounds Good, Tracy Ross speaks with author Bobbie Smith Bryant about the event, the dark-fired tobacco curing process, her love of Western Kentucky and farming and her latest book Farming in the Black Patch.
Come aboard and see the tobacco farm operations in their busiest time of year, she says. Tour the barns and farm, walk around and see what the smoking barns look like up close and personal. The event starts at 2 pm, the tour starts at 2:30. A second tour starts at 3:45. Justice Bill Cunningham makes a few remarks around 3 pm and the new book featuring Smith farms and four other farms in the county, Farming in the Black Patch, will be available for book signings as well.
Bryant says she has always had a deep interest in her family's past and in Kentucky history. In studying this, she realized there was very little written about western Kentucky and black patch tobacco. Her brother helped her recognize the uniqueness of the region. In her family research, she came across many farmers in her ancestry and the legacy as a local farm family.
Dark fired tobacco is a different process than anywhere in the world and is unique to the black patch region. She realized so few people understand the process. In her book, she writes a lengthy section of history about tobacco and segments from interviews with farmers in the county. Dark fired tobacco is different because the process of growing, hanging and curing is similar to other tobacco until you get to the final curing process. In western Kentucky, they build fires in the base of the barn - like smoking meat in a barbecue. That's the significant difference, she says. This is unique to western Kentucky, she says. When you go east towards the central part of Kentucky, they are not as familiar with this process.
Having grown up on the farm, she feels she took for granted what she had as a farm family. Farm families are different now than several years ago, she says. Many of the family farms are gone now. Seeing how quickly that way of life has changed and is changing has been her biggest surprise.
The "Celebrate Our Farming Heritage" event is sponsored by the Smith Family of Calloway County, Acclaim Press, Inc. and Murray State University's Town and Gown.