Tracing Roots

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - What can we tell you about Trace Barnett? You may have seen him on a couple of shows on The Food Network, read about him in numerous magazine articles, seen him on local TV shows, and he’s famous for party planning from here to New York. Now, he’s written a book called Tracing Roots, A Modern Approach To Living Off The Land. And of course, he’s Absolutely Alabama.

Trace explains as he gathers the bumper crop of fresh eggs, “These are all from just yesterday and today. Watch this. She’s going to try and get me. Everybody’s real friendly around here.”

We’re here outside the town of Brilliant, so named because of the coal company around which the town grew, but we’re not here to talk coal. We’re here to talk chickens, kitchens, and family and finding your roots, which is a big part of Trace’s story. “I ended up in New York, of all places, and planning these large scale, no budget events for the Rich and Famous out in East Hampton, New York. I was ready to come back. I was ready to have the wide-open spaces, have the animals and really come back to my roots in a sense.”

So, Trace Barnett returned to the farm which has been in his family for a while, “Quite some time, since about 1828. It’s also home to a few bees, some chickens, a couple of other live stocks and a lot of flowers. "

Today Trace lives in the old family barn. “This barn has had quite a lot of lives. It’s been everything from a barn to farm storage equipment. It was a fabric warehouse and a fabric shop and then most importantly before it became my house, it was the catch all for everybody’s junk. There was floor to ceiling stuff, and I think there was every TV from every decade of the last 60 years.

To Trace, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. His sink is an old washing machine. “And I have the deepest farmhouse sink in town.”

And there’s even a Little House inside the home. “One of Britain’s leading artists, she’s in taxidermy, so I had her taxidermy a mouse skin rug for the little house, because, why not?”

Outside there are the gardens and chickens and like everything else it all fits. “The runoff runs under these vegetable beds and into the pollinator garden, so it’s just built-in fertilizer.”

Trace Barnett is home.

I still love New York, but I love Alabama better.

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Fred Hunter

Fred Hunter

WBRC First Alert Meteorologist Fred Hunter was born in Alabama in the historic town of Ft. Payne. He has lived, attended school, raised his family and worked in the South all his life.