ATLANTA, GA — Farming is grounded in the founding of this country. If you want to walk a mile in James Earle Carter's shoes then you may need to point your compass south. Just three miles from downtown Atlanta, Georgia, the Carter Presidential Center is the only presidential library in the southeast.
"There's two ponds on the property, bee hives, and a Japanese garden. We have a rose garden in the front because Rosalyn Carter loves roses so we have a rose garden," said library and museum director Meredith Evans.
The 35 acre campus tells the story so far of Jimmy Carter. You can follow in the footsteps of the young farmer, known to walk his fields barefoot when planting peanuts. His determination led him to become the 39th president of the United States from January 20th 1977 to January 20th 1981.
"This is the oval office so we have a replica. Everything on the desk is the original. The 'Buck Stops Here' is one of his favorite signs and sayings he's done. But, the windows are literally from his time period. So, that's what he would have been looking at, if he were looking outside of the oval office," said library and museum director Meredith Evans.
"It is a partner's desk. So, if you look at the desk there are drawers across the top, cabinets on either side. It was open in the middle so that partners could sit across from one another," said head of public affairs Tony Clark.
Carter put solar panels on the White House's roof in the 1970's. He was ahead of his time. In modern times, you'll find solar panels at the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum.
"When I took this job I remembered that I wrote President Carter when I was considerably younger. I invited myself to the White House for my birthday. In this collection, in one of those boxes, was this very letter," said library and museum director Meredith Evans.
The library is home to more than 27-million pages of presidential papers. There's a half million photographs and hundreds of hours of film, audio and videotape from the Carter White House. In Atlanta you can learn about his early years.
"He grew up in segregated Georgia and I think that speaks to his moral compass. He grew up primarily with African Americans until high school. That is when he went to the primarily all white high school in Plains. I think that was a very interesting time for him," said library and museum director Meredith Evans. "His father was a segregationist and his mother was a liberal. I think that dynamic in the household was also strenuous but also taught him the importance of freedom."
You can take a virtual trip around the world with the Carters in this library as they continue to fight disease and promote democracy. Pay close attention and you'll see the fruits of their labor, and a Nobel Peace Prize in person.
"When we renovated it was really important to show the growth of his work and that he hasn't changed. So we went from civil and human rights to another focus of human rights globally," said Meredith Evans.
Don't be surprised to see the president at his library and museum. He is also known to give pop-up talks at nearby Emory University.
"He's good at bringing people together casually to deal with really tough issues. He brings a sense of humanity to the situation. People have to step back and think about that. It's about the people and not necessarily about your fame. He has moral compass," said Meredith Evans.
There are so many stories you can tell about him and Mrs. Carter because of their heart.
"If they were never anything. If they were simple farmers on a farm, everyone would still be attracted to them. They have a personality that goes beyond storybooks," said Maranatha Baptist Church Pastor Brandon Patterson.
It is said that farming is a profession of hope. That has helped set Jimmy Carter's path thus far.