Paul Buxman, Tulare County’s premier agricultural landscape artist-in-residence, has launched a rescue effort for Fresno County farmer Will Scott, Jr. Scott is a small-scale, organic Black farmer who has organized other Black farmers for mutual support, aided young people in getting back to the land, and produced healthy food once common in rural Black diets for sale at farmers markets in Fresno and Oakland (visit his website, www.scottfamilyfarms.net, to see some of these efforts.)
But Will Scott, Jr.’s wells are going dry. This year he was able to farm only 5 of his 45 acres, and unless he can deepen his wells this winter, he will be out of business. Scott was featured as one of the “Faces of the Drought,” where he was quoted as saying simply “We’re on the verge of losing a lot.”
When Paul Buxman heard of Will Scott’s plight, however, he was catapulted into action. “The community cannot afford to lose this man,” he said in his first interview with Dale Yurong of Channel 30 Action News. Having much in common with Scott – small-scale organic farming, farm organizing, and deep faith that translates into community activism – Buxman recognized both the seriousness of the problem and the obvious solution.
“We’re going to raise $40,000 to deepen his wells, and this is how we’re going to do it. I’m going to offer signed and numbered lithographs of four of my paintings, one for each foot of well drilled, which is around $50. All we need is to get the word out,” he said prophetically. Buxman then set about contacting his wide network of admirers and supporters. Money began arriving immediately.
“Approaching Rain” is the title of one of the paintings reproduced as lithographs that Buxman is giving in exchange for financial contributions to deepen Scott’s wells. This painting shows a small farm against a darkened horizon that could bring disaster as well as blessing. “After the Rain,” “Autumn Afternoon,” and “Homestead” (which portrays raisins drying in the sun,) are the titles of the other three.
These four paintings are from the 1980’s and were chosen for reproduction because Buxman felt they best represented both his style and his subject. Normally these lithographs sell for several hundred dollars each. As a quartet, they represent the passion and skill of this artist/tree fruit grower who knows the lay of our land like no other.
If you’d like to contribute, send your checks to Paul Buxman, Sweet Home Ranch, 4399 Ave. 400, Dinuba CA 93618. Make the checks payable to “Will Scott, Jr.,” with “well fund” or “Drill for Will” written in the memo space. Include your name, address and phone number to arrange for pick-up of the lithographs. Send $50 for one lithograph, or collect all four for a $200 contribution. Help save the human heart of our farmscapes and have that vision to hang on the wall in return.
Trudy Wischemann is a rural advocate who writes a column for the Foothills Sun-Gazette (visit www.trudysnotesfromhome.blogspot.com.)