The compelling charismatic tug of the Quercus is universal I think. Who can resist picking up an acorn and just holding its form and weight? and then who does not imagine/dream/behold the transformation held within? ....The acorns on this old friend are plump and abundant this year. Butte County, CA.
And speaking of seeds: In September, Sarah and I tried something new for Cultivating Place in curating a 4-part series diving into the state of independent seed growers and seed sovereignty and safety advocates. We did this through conversations with 5 different seed advocates and one small farmer, checking in with each to get a sense of the focus of their work and their respective missions. The hope of course was that in hearing from a small cross-section of people at this kind of work we would have some sense of the state of that area of the plant world generally.
The whole series was something of an adventure and a revelation: putting it together, the passion of the people doing this great work out there, and some of the takeaway lessons for the rest of us: gardeners, nature lovers, and advocates.
Between September and October: artistry and seeds - through the late season roses revived. Butte County, CA.
In our 4-part Seeds of September Series we look at the state of seed in our country - politically, environmentally, economically, culturally and spiritually. We hear about the passion, process and purpose behind their work with seed from:
Jere Gettle, Owner and Founder of Baker Creek Seeds, co-founder of the National Heirloom Expo
Micaela Colley, Past Executive Director of the Organic Seed Alliance,
Kalan Redwood, co-owner of Redwood Seeds in Northern California,
Ira Wallace of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, focusing on seed saving and seed varieties of the southeast and co-founder of Monticello’s Heritage Harvest Festival in Charlottesville, Virginia;
Rowen White, of Sierra Seeds, Seed Saver’s Exchange and the Indigenous Seed Keepers Network, and finally,
photographer/farmer Matthew Benson of Stonegate Farm, an organic 186os farm in Upstate New York.
Seedy tabletop artistry
There’s an ancient association between the botanical world and art inspired by it. This week we kick off a four part series in which we hear about the process, purpose and passions of 5 different artists all expressing their love for plants through their artistry.
Matthew Benson, author of Growing Beautiful Food, segued us nicely from the Seeds of September to the Artistry of October:
Kate Blairstone renders the amazing natural and cultivated plant diversity of her home in Portland, Oregon and creates bright, bold, artistically realistic high-contrast fabrics, other textiles, wallpapers and other printed products;
Mona Caron - who strategizes epic urban murals around the world, making the life cycle of tiny plants the center of her hero’s journey depictions;
Obi Kaufmann, author of the California Field Atlas depicts the many beautiful forms and details of the flora and fauna and landscape of California in dozens of watercolor sketches and maps throughout this his first book - to be continued in three additional books on the way;
Julia Lucey shares her journey to the aquatint etching collage artistry for which she is known;
Finally, Ann Wood, of Woodlucker Studio in Minneapolis/St. Paul walks us through the passion and process of her three dimensional paper translations of flowers, fruits, seeds and feathers, among other objects.
The ways in which the botanical world informs and inspires us is fascinating. September's Seed series could have continued for many more weeks – the good people working in, growing and sharing with the world about seed in innovative and wonderful ways are legion – so we will come back to this topic again in the future, trust me.
The very same is true of botanical artists intertwined with their gardens and trails. The more we look around for ways in which we humans express our love and interdependence with the natural world, the more we see this everywhere.
In other news, I am still hard at the book manuscript - tentatively the title includes: 75 Extraordinary Women Reimagine Our Lives with Plants. I think that's kind of compelling, don't you? The process is intense, and I can't wait to share more about this journey for me and the journeys of these women - who I truly believe are helping to grow this world for the better. It's been a great honor to sit with their work and words in almost every waking moment these past 9 months - and I can tell you - I am ready for the delivery! ;) I'll keep you posted on updates, of course. It's targeted to be on shelves in Fall of 2019. Scary exciting....
Thank you as always for reading and listening - I'd love to hear from you - send me a note or leave me a comment on the social media feeds. Sarah and I love getting your feedback, suggestions, critiques, and all.
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LINKS TO SEPTEMBER 2018 CULTIVATING PLACE PROGRAMS
9/27/18: The Seeds of Who We Grow to Become: Matthew Benson, Stonegate Farm, NY
9/20/18: To Be a Seed Keeper - Rowen White, Sierra Seeds, Northern CA
9/13/18: Southern Exposure Seed Exchange & Heritage Harvest Festival , Ira Wallace, VA
9/06/18: SEEDS OF SEPTEMBER - Baker Creek Seeds, Organic Seed Alliance & Redwood Seeds
Seeds stories on the September and October dining room table.