Posts tagged ‘gardens as art’

Green Swap: take it and leave it

050514greenswap-boardLookit: standing outside the RISD store on the River-Side.

It’s an ongoing garden swap, kind of along the lines of those book/magazine racks outside T stops in Boston (Do these still exist?) Take some plants/seeds/garden equipment, and leave some plants/seeds/garden equipment in return.


I left some volunteer dill and violets and took some garden gloves. Wonder what will be there next?

Brown dog is provided for scale. See the bronze plaque hovering above the cabinet? That marks how high the flood waters reached following the 1938 hurricane.

Time to plant! Southside Community Land Trust’s plant sale and the Youth Pride plant sale are this weekend. Get your baby vegetables, raised with tender loving care, and assist some great causes, too.


May 15, 2009 at 7:28 am Leave a comment

Disaster plan: Garden!

mit_armadilloRISD’s Office of Public Engagement is opening a new exhibit on Tricks of the Eye: History and Memory in Today’s Shifting Social Landscape. The exhibit “highlights recent projects by contemporary artists that explore innovative ways of navigating today’s shifting social landscape.” The exhibit runs March 5 – April 3 at 169 Weybosset St., Providence. Opening is Thurs., March 5 from 6-8pm.

One of the featured projects is the MIT FEMA Trailer Project: Timeline and Armadillo. The Armadillo was a FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) Trailer that was intended to house families in the Gulf Coast displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. MIT students worked with artist Jae Rhim Lee to transform the unit into a Composting Station and Vertical Garden. MIT is running two contests to encourage additional trailer transformations and the chance to win the Armadillo.

Meanwhile, across town at the Steel Yard, Providence people are thinking about how to resuscitate the Urban Agricultural Unit–a mobile greenhouse fabricated from a discarded shipping container. This project was featured at ProvFlux a couple years ago.

When soil is toxic, when people are suddenly in need…roll in a mobile garden!

March 4, 2009 at 7:51 am 2 comments

P.F.1 in PVD!

081203pf1Just found out that Dan Wood and Amelie Andraos of Work Architecture Company are going to be speaking at the Wheeler School in Providence next Monday. Wood (Wheeler ’85) and Andraos are the creators of P.F.1 (Public Farm One), a utopian garden installation that grew vegetables and charged ipods all summer long at P.S.1 in NYC.

I visited P.F.1 this June when it got underway, and I can’t wait to hear about how it fared. Here’s my original post.

See you there: Monday, December 8, 7-9pm at Wheeler Hall, 216 Hope Street, Providence

December 3, 2008 at 6:39 pm Leave a comment

Siting Green Zone: gardening at Firehouse 13

When I told my friend Kris (the Blithewold blogger) about gardening at Firehouse 13, she said, “I didn’t realize that firehouse 13 was an artist space – I assumed you’d be working with the emts and whatnot.” Not exactly…

From the FH13 website: “Firehouse no13 is dedicated to sheltering exciting, innovative and contemporary creative works. It is a forward thinking urban project appealing to experimental artists and creative innovators.” The first floor (where fire engines once parked) is a gallery + performance + gathering space; the second floor (where firemen bunked) hosts artists-in-residence; and the third floor has an open space.

When I asked about installing Green Zone, director Anna Shapiro laid out a couple of existing conditions:

1) Preserve FH13’s green space, and don’t garden on top of grass or plants. Since Green Zone is a container garden, it could sit on any surface. We found a spot on the concrete strip between parking lot and lawn.

2) Beware of rats. Outdoor gardening anywhere–a Providence parking lot, a suburban backyard, or a rural farm–means looking out for the local fauna. From the East Side to the South Side, that means rats. After talking with other urban gardeners, I opted for veg that might be less attractive to rats. I stuck with leafy greens (kale, lettuce, arugula) and veg that produce fruit underground (beets, radishes, turnips). No tempting tomatoes, peas, cukes, beans, etc.

3) Anything can happen. FH13 hosts events that attract people from all over. FH13 is a block away from Broad Street in a busy area with restaurants, businesses, schools, and residences. One day, I stopped by Green Zone and found human hair (huh?!?) in one tire. One of the FH13 artists told me there had been a hair-cutting party nearby.

So far, so good. The residents and Anna help me keep look after Green Zone, and I make sure they eat their vegetables.

July 16, 2008 at 1:38 am 1 comment

P.F.1: a monument to the urban farm

I recently visited P.F.1 (Public Farm One) at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center in Queens. P.S.1 ran an architectural competition to create a social landscape in their courtyard. The winning entry by WORK Architecture Company is an urban farm/mega-container garden.

The main garden structure is a massive flying-V composed of a honeycomb of large cardboard tubes reaching several stories high above a wading pool. Most tubes are fitted with a small planting bed on top; others are left open. The planting list includes 51 varieties of veg, fruit, herbs, and flowers. Smaller clusters of tubes provide seating, bars, solar ipod recharging docks (seriously), portals showing videos of farm animals. An adjacent area serves as a chicken coop.

Sustainability is built into the project. Materials are recyclable and compostable. The sun powers the project from the irrigation system (which captures and redistributes rainwater) to the ipod chargers. Over the summer, pickers harvest the crops and sell them at a farmers’ market on site or use them in the P.S.1 cafe.

With edible plants sprouting from a neatly arranged mesh of tubes, the result is both utopian and organic. Architects Amale Andraos and Dan Wood took inspiration from the uprisings of 1968, when French workers staked their right to leisure and liberation by reclaiming the beach as their space. At P.F.1, the architects invite us to reclaim the urban landscape. They say: “P.F.1 is an architectural and urban manifesto to engage play and reinvent our cities, and our world, once again.”

July 13, 2008 at 5:56 pm Leave a comment

gardening in plastic bags

The gardening industry is just that…an industry. The number of gardening products grows exponentially, even though the key ingredients–soil, compost, containers, water, sun, seeds, mulch, pest control, fertilizer stakes–come for cheap or free.

Take containers. Spare tires, kiddie pools, plastic bottles, shoes, and shopping bags work well. Check out these online photo albums from Sampath Jagannathan, a gardener in the UK who experimented with growing veg in plastic shopping bags. He also has a page on You Grow Girl with directions that read like poetry. Sorta.

The benefits of gardening in used plastic bags are similar to gardening in tires: bags retain heat and moisture; bags are portable; planting gardens in bags means fewer bags in the landfill or getting caught in trees. But if you buy designer “planting bags,” you’re not really reducing consumer waste.

For artist Judith Selby Lang, you don’t plant a garden in plastic bags; you plant plastic bags in the shape of a garden. She created “ReCycle Ryoan-ji,” a replica of Kyoto’s Ryoan-ji Garden made entirely out of recycled materials. Her installation went up in San Francisco’s Civic Center Plaza in April 2007, one month after San Francisco became the first city in the US to ban plastic shopping bags.

July 11, 2008 at 10:25 pm 1 comment

a bug surprise!

Last Wednesday, I was thrilled to find some bees…or, to be truthful, one bee…buzzing around Green Zone and enjoying the scarlet runner bean blossoms. Perhaps he got separated from the pack that was swarming around Turks Head Plaza.

Today, I went over to give Green Zone a quick drink, and encountered a big beautiful bug hovering over the garden. Surprise!

Emmanuel “Mystro” Barrada, one of the artist-residents at Firehouse 13 created this giant flying insect and planted it next door to Green Zone. I was completely blown away. I knew Manny was a sculptor who works in metal and who helps me look after the installation, but I had no idea that he was cooking up this project.

Thank you Manny for making this stunning scarecrow/guardian angel for Green Zone.

July 10, 2008 at 10:58 pm Leave a comment

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