Strong Roots Provisions
I was approached by Matthew Raiford, owner & chef at the Farmer & the Larder, last Spring to follow a new project he & Jovan Sage (owner of the Farmer & the Larder & herbalist at Sage's Larder) were beginning: Strong Roots Provisions. At the time, not many people had heard of the project. His idea was to capture the entire transformation of their new restaurant venture from beginning to end & I was more than happy to jump on board.
The old Brewburger's, this facility had sat vacant since 2011. At first glance, it seemed mostly empty with only remnants of a place people once gathered over beer, burgers, sports, & karaoke. But with further exploration, it was obvious this place held secrets much deeper than its surface. Deserted cell phones, newspapers, personal photographs, batch reports, condiments, & dry goods contributed to the feeling perhaps the abandonment of this structure had occurred rather quickly & unexpectedly. I recalled the one time I had lunch with my mother there & its every detail. I appreciated its view, the oldness of the building, its location - but something was missing. A lot was missing. I investigated further & Facebook revealed a "welcome back to work!" happy hour special post on September 6, 2011 & an announcement ending its journey just five days later.
The first time I brought my camera, I did what I normally do & observed as many details as possible. The welcome mat, the haunting words on the wall, "may all who enter as guests leave as friends" echoing over nothing but silence, promotional materials & its "specials" board decorated with handwritten text in chalk... These messages once spoke to visitors. For almost 6 years, however, they hadn't been heard.
Today, the space is almost done with its transformation & the atmosphere is the opposite of haunting; a jazz restaurant & bar, the grand opening of Strong Roots Provisions is highly anticipated by locals & distant supporters. What was it missing before? Perhaps I can never fairly answer that. Timing is everything & back then, the passion to convert Downtown Brunswick into what it is today (& what's it's growing into) just wasn't "there." But Matthew & Jovan are pioneers in the food & farming department so it's no surprise they are executing such a vision in this space. The transformation of their new space comes at a perfect time for my most favorite city.