College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

Oral Historian to Study Food Traditions

food-amyevans

Anson Mills, Bond Family give generously to support the SFA.

A pair of generous gifts totaling $125,000 will allow the Southern Foodways Alliance (SFA) to support an oral historian and expand its oral history archive into the “Upsouth” region of Virginia, Georgia, and the Carolinas.
With a planned gift of $50,000, Carmen and Matt Bond of Memphis, Tenn., have established the Carmen Crane Bond Oral History Fund. The Bonds were inspired to provide this endowment after attending several SFA-sponsored events in recent years and are now active SFA members.
“My fondest memories are from early childhood, growing up in the country,” Ms. Bond recalls. “My family was still of the ‘old school,’ and essentially lived off the land. They taught me not only how to garden and cook, but also the processes from beginning to end, from ‘pickin’ to ‘puttin’ up’!”
Ms. Bond is delighted that more oral histories containing these “lost arts” will be archived and made available to younger generations. She explains, “sponsoring an oral historian is an ideal opportunity to make a difference in preserving the unique lessons and memories that come from experiences just like mine.”
Anson Mills, a Columbia, S.C., company producing artisan mill goods from organic heirloom grains, has also committed to funding the SFA’s newest addition with a $75,000 gift. Glenn Roberts, the company’s founder, has supported the SFA and its work with oral histories for over a decade, providing more than $100,000 since 2001.
“All of us at Anson Mills hold, above all else, the intrinsic value of personal and interpersonal experiences emanating from the three big Southern F’s: family, farming, and food.” Roberts says. “We are thrilled that the SFA has chosen to grow its oral history archive to focus on the culture and personal experiences of farming.”
John T. Edge, director of the SFA, expressed excitement and gratitude for both gifts. “These funds will drive the next phase of our oral history work,” he explains, adding that SFA work and influence has become quite strong in Virginia and the Carolinas.
The Southern Foodways Alliance, founded in 1999 within the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, documents, studies, and celebrates the diverse food cultures of the changing American South. A member-supported nonprofit, the SFA stages symposia on food culture, produces documentary films, publishes compendiums of great writing, and collects oral histories.
Thanks to these gifts, the new oral historian will further connect the SFA to the Upsouth region through its many sponsored symposia and film festivals, as well as provide support at SFA’s Oral History Workshop, which takes place annually on campus.
Support from the Carmen Crane Bond Oral History Fund and Anson Mills will drive home the SFA’s notion that food “brings people to the table.” As Amy Evans explains, “That’s where the discussion begins.”
More information about the SFA, including its extensive oral history archive, project index, and interactive map, are online at southernfoodways.org.