James Farmer speaks at Antiquarian Society meeting

February 2, 2018 chris
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By Sarrah Peters, News Editor

On January 26, the Antiquarian Society held a luncheon at the Gadsden Country Club with author James Farmer as the guest speaker.

Before Farmer addressed the attendees, members enjoyed a lunch of Southern pot roast, roasted potatoes, green beans and baby carrots with Dutch apple pie for dessert.

Farmer is a designer, cook and lifestyle expert. He is the editor-at-large for Southern Living magazine and has published eight books, including “A Place to Call Home: Timeless Southern Charm.”

Farmer started off his speech by talking about his Southern roots.

“I’m from Perry, Georgia. Perry is not to be confused with the city in France – Pa-ree.”

Farmer went on to describe growing up in a small town, where everyone knew each other

“There’s this gift I was given by growing up in a small town,” said Farmer. “It was a gift my family and the town gave me. It was a gift of unconditional love and support for what they saw early on was my passion.”

At age 5, Farmer, while playing tee ball, protected a grub worms in the field instead of catching the ball. He knew the worms could be used to fish in the pond, and his grandma could fry the fish he caught. The concept of pond-to-plate cooking is now popular in restaurants.

Farmer career defining moment of choosing a career path was his “fried chicken moment.” He was frying chicken in his dorm room at Auburn at 18 years old when he had a realization.

“My generation didn’t know how to cook,” said Farmer. “They didn’t know how to set a table. They didn’t have Miss Edna’s cotillion clas like I did.”

Farmer used the lessons he learned from his family and hometown to fuel his career.

Farmer said that he learned two lessons from his grandmother – that people “eat with their eyes first” and when people are at his table, “we feed them body and soul.”

Farmer used these ideas in his writing, cooking and designing. Farmer went on to say that in his designing, he liked to use pieces that “had a story,” especially items with personal or familial connections.

Farmer went through a slideshow of homes that he decorated, pointing pieces with “stories.”

After the luncheon, Farmer held a book signing for his newest book “A Place to Call Home: Timeless Southern Charm.