SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO)– It’s the end of an era for a local photographer who’s been preserving pieces of farm history for a decade.
This is the last year Abby Bischoff will be producing her Abandoned South Dakota calendar highlighting abandoned farm sites across the state.
Abby Bischoff has been passionate about photography and agriculture her entire life. Over the past ten years, she has been combining both of those loves through her Abandoned South Dakota project, a mission that sparked from a personal experience.
“My parents were kind of building a new house on the farm that I grew up on, and it was kind of a time when the family was reflecting a lot on the house that we grew up in,” said Bischoff. “So, we talked a lot about houses and what they mean to us, and how a lot of times they because more than just the setting in our story, they oftentimes become a character or memories.”
After this conversation, she began noticing abandoned farmstead as she drove across the state. That’s when she decided she wanted to find a way to capture and preserve the stories found in these homes and barns.
“I knew I would be traveling to, let’s say Gettysburg, to photograph a wedding, I would build in a little extra time and give myself a little bit of time to kind of wander on those side roads, maybe take a county highway as opposed to the main highway, or sometimes you’ve maybe got to travel on gravel, that’s ok,” said Bischoff. “Just kind of exploring the back roads of South Dakota and found hundreds of abandon farm houses and so I started capturing those photos.”
Soon, she began posting the photos onto a public Facebook page. Within just ten days of launching the page, it had 24,000 followers and some followers even began to recognize the farms and reach out to Bischoff to share their stories.
“It is so cool. I mean it’s such an invigorating feeling to be like ‘Ok, like I captured this place that somebody recognizes it and I did it in a way they want to reach out and talk about it,'” said Bischoff.
The positive response from her fans inspired her to create a yearly calendar.
“The reason I did the calendar is because people wanted a piece of it, you know, they wanted those pictures in their homes and they wanted that conversation piece and they wanted to support what I was doing,” said Bischoff.
The calendars are sold online and at local Sioux Falls Businesses, where they receive a great response from customers.
“It’s usually I’ve got to pick one up for myself and my fill in the blank that lives in California or lives on the coast because they miss home,” said Jamie Scarbrough, manager of Zandbroz Variety.
After 10 years of production, this is Bischoff’s final calendar.
“So, ten years felt like a good kind of end cap for it, a nice round number. I also got married this year, and my life is just in a very different place than it was ten years ago when I started this project,” said Bischoff.
But she’s not abandoning the project all together. She has been planning to create a coffee table book featuring her photographs and will be dedicating her extra time to making that project a reality.
“So, I want to make myself do the book, so I think a part of that is just clearing that path and just focusing on that. Which some work has started on it already,” said Bischoff.
Closing a chapter of this great back roads adventure.
It has been a really great adventure,” said Bischoff. “I don’t know if I would have gone on a mission of trying to collect houses in every single county if it weren’t for you know group of people that really enjoyed the project and wanted to be a part of it.”
Bischoff is still on a mission to collect the photos from every county in the state and only has two left, both in central South Dakota. She hopes to complete those soon as well as finish her book within the next couple of years.