“So what do people do in Southwestern Wisconsin?” a New Yorker asked me recently. I might have said “we grow our food and we eat it,” but I went for a more colorful explanation. I told him that the Driftless Region is a little like the old TV show Fantasy Island. People come here from somewhere, anywhere else, and they step out of their cars, and say what it is they want to do. Often as not, a few years later, they’re doing it. And that’s why we have so many small farmers, and a new community radio station, a James Beard-nominated restaurant, four grade schools and four high schools serving a town of 4000, dozens of growers and producers making Organic Valley dairy, Go Macro bars, Driftless beer, Kickapoo Coffee, Fizzeology kraut, Wisco Pop, Driftless Provisions charcuterie, the list goes on and on. It’s why I was able to be a teacher, and then a photographer. In these parts, we support our small businesses, and especially our farmers.

These photos come primarily from my area and “my farmers.” Some others are taken in Ohio, Kentucky, Minnesota, and the Dakotas. For more information about the myriad ways a small economy makes food and farming work, click on the button below to see my “ON YOUR PLATE” photo essay.


ON YOUR PLATE photo essay

Theresa Washburn, Dir. of member affairs, Organic Valley:

For internal purposes and farmer communications we  hired Drew to shoot the “truth” of farming —  Our farmer-members prefer to see images that reflect their reality, and not just the polished marketing photos that are used on the milk cartons. Drew gave us images that went deeper and were more beautiful than anything we’d ever had. He was the first to photograph our “plain” farmers — the Mennonite and the Amish. He put them at ease. He created a resource library of images for Organic Valley of thousands of images of real farmers doing the real work that farming entails.

“There’s just no way to tell people they are all walking around, shining, like the sun.” — Thomas Merton