01 Nov Article in the Virginian-Pilot on Farmer-Special thanks to Linda McNatt
VIRGINIA’S FARMER IS TALL, BRONZE, HANDSOME
HE IS the man of my dreams. I knew he would be. Dressed in bib over-alls. His shirt sleeves rolled up past his elbows. If I look closely, I’m sure I’ll find a little sweat across his hardworking brow. He’s the Virginia farmer. Not any specific farmer in any particular Virginia Locality. Just an ordinary farmer, gazing out across his newly planted crops. The bronze statue stands in the entry area of the Virginia Farm Bureau’s headquarters building. I read about it in the recent Farm Bureau news letter. Finally, I thought, with what was probably an audible sign of relief, a statue in Richmond without controversy. No battle flags. No weapons. No color of skin. No connections with any causes except honesty, hard work and God-fearing respect for the land. I wanted to know immediately what he looked like. I’d read that he is 6 feet, 3 inches tall. I asked Bruce Stone, when I called the Farm Bureau offices near our state capital, if it was meaningful. Are all farmers tall? Not necessarily, he answered me, with a chuckle, but the bronze man is as typical of a Virginia farmer as they could come up with. “He’s big,” said Stone, a member of the committee that decided what the farmer would look like and who would sculpt him. “We had a vision. He would be gazing at the sky, wondering when the next rain would come.” Now, doesn’t that sound just like a farmer? I thought about the many times I’ve stood next to one of our local farmers in a field and seen that very sight. The statue honors those who have contributed almost $79 billion a year to the state’s economy, according the the newsletter. It was unveiled Sept. 22 in a kind of quiet, private ceremony, Stone said. You might have to travel off Monument Avenue to see this statue, but it’s got to be worth it. The farmer is standing among shoots of corn emerging from the ground. Farm Bureau headquarters is in Goochland County. If you’ve never been there, it’s absolutely beautiful- still rural, just outside Richmond, where the hills of the impending mountains are just beginning to roll. The address is 12580 West Creek Pkwy., West Richmond. The only problem I can find with it is that, according to Stone, you can’t see the statue from outside the building. You’ve got to go inside to see the farmer. Maybe there was some concern that somebody somewhere would find something wrong with the farmer and attempt to harm him. You know how people are. “It speaks of who we are,” Bruce said, “That’s why we have it in the building.” but I can’t go see my man on a weekend. I’ll work it out. The idea to honor farmers with a bronze statue came from a Rockbridge County Farm Bureau resolution, which stated that farmers have made huge contributions to this country but haven’t received the recognition they deserve. Brenda Bulifant, senior subrogation specialist for the Farm Bureau, created the sketch. She grew up on a tobacco farm in Lunenburg County. The committee found a sculptor – Matt Glenn, president of Big Statues Inc. in Provo, Utah – who completed the artistic piece. Stone said the organization has had nothing but positive comments about the tall farmer in the lobby. He’s a little on the thin side, but I’m sure he’ll fatten up after the corn gets off the ground. If you get up that way, go by and say hello.