From where I sit on the couch, I can see the back of the voting house by the road. The building was constructed sometime in the late 19th or early 20th century as the polling place for white people in the town of Radiant. When I tell other folks about this structure, the first assumption is that it must have been built to serve some other purpose first – post office, school – but everyone here, including folks who voted in that building, says that it was just for voting. An entire building that existed for just one purpose was rare in days when time, supplies, and money were shorter.
Now, we are putting this 14’x14 structure to work as a our farm stand. We’ve cleaned it up just a bit, leaving as much original as we can, including the wood stove in the center of the space and the voting booth to one side. We even left up the little shelf where people would have picked up ballots. In time, I will frame the voting information we found – from 1964 – and put it on the wall. We want to preserve this history by using it as it is.
The structure has a wide-plank floor and bead-board walls that are painted baby blue. At some point, someone wired it for electricity, but it has never been hooked into the grid. We’ll get to that in time – maybe with a solar array. Two huge windows face east and west, which gives the building plenty of light, and the glass in the frames is wavy and, thus, perfect.
A cinder block chimney rises from the roof near the back of the building, and the exterior is the perfect farm white, the color to which we will return all the outbuildings and the farmhouse here. It sits on a small rise at the heart of town, directly across from the post office and just a tiny bit up the way from the old Lohr farmstead. Really, its the quintessential rural pass-through with the town sign for going and for coming on one post.
Our hope is that we’ll keep a little bustle in this place, even as the post office’s hours keep getting cut. This little crossroads that includes our driveways has held a lot of hearts and opinions and memories. We’d like to preserve those.
So we’re working hard to build up this farm stand. Yesterday, Philip dug a deep hole, and we plunged our colorful farm sign into the ground. We still need to make it brighter and get the farm name up, but that will come. Then, we’ll add an “open/closed” sign to the side of the building and put up a parking sign to let folks know it’s okay to pull onto the grass. We’ll build some shelves for the front to display produce and the fresh peonies that Ms. Tucker – the schoolteacher from the two-room school an eighth of a mile up the road – planted here decades back. And we’ll hope to bring people in to buy what has always been at the heart of Radiant – handwork and produce, a bit of nostalgia and a whole lot of heart.
Please, if you’re in Central Virginia, stop by. The stand is open as much as possible, and we’d love to see you. Or if you’re not local, feel free to browse our online Etsy store – we can’t sell fresh lettuce there, but we still have cute stuff. Every purchase helps us build this dream of a farm as a space for people to come rest and rejuvenate from the hard days of life.