Monday, February 20, 2012

Ice Festival... Apple Blossoms next?

One of the major interests voiced in the Arts and Ag focus groups was developing ways to extend and elaborate the "season" for visiting the farms and how arts could contribute to new, fresh agri-tourism activities on the farms. We knew that we'd have to try out--"field test?"-- some of this before we could present it to the farms as a appropriate activity. Optimists Robert Schmick of Museum Village and Julia Kole of Arrow Park developed an "Ice Harvest Festival" as a form of heritage and agri-tourism tourism with an arts component. So, on Sunday, February 19, with no ice and a article that day in the local paper saying that all the ice-related activities in the region had been cancelled this year... The First Orange County Ice Harvest Festival was held at Arrow Park in Monroe from 11AM to 3PM. We did find one piece of ice in the bottom of a 10-gallon bucket.

About 120 people passed though the event. Some had come from Maine where there was a similar festival the week before. They brought chunks of ice and a sled used to haul ice and a collection of ice harvesting tools. Thank you!
There were musicians, storytellers, plein air painters, archeologists and a few hands-on artist/craftspeople and a beautiful horse showed up!

Julia Kole's homemade borscht and perogies were notable! For many people this was the first experience of the beauty of Arrow Park and for many of us it was another day of enjoying each other's company. We missed not having more Ag people there.

The next event we are discussing is a mid-late April Apple Blossom festival. We need to form a committee of people intyerested in making it happen at one, some or all of the area orchards.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

February 6 Art/Ag meeting notes

The February meeting-potluck of the Arts and Ag Our Town was held Monday, February 6 at 5:30-7pm in Sugar Loaf.
Who Came: Dan Mack, Mike Sossler, Museum Village, Lucia Granite, Museum Village, Karen Decher, Julia Kole,Arrow Park, Gloria Bonelli, Steve Pennings,
Ice Festival at Arrow Park on February 19 from 11-3. Discuss details of arts presence and ag presence.
So far, no Ice on Arrow Park Lake. It may be a Global Warming Festival
Michelle Gluck sent THIS link

Agri-Culinary Conference February 28. Who wants to go??
from Jane Hamburger: Food and feeding people is always a big attraction. Definitely discuss. Steve and Jill Pennings are planning to go to this.

Mike Sossler mentioned the April 1 re-opening of the Farm Tools Exhibit at museum Village and offered it as one of the monthkly Arts/Ag events.

Steve Pennings offered his orchard as a place for a late April/early May Apple Blossom Festival
Steve also described an event called a Mud RunDiscuss pending Grant Possibilities:
Barnabus McHenry $5K college/graduate student internship Due Feb 15

NYS Buy Local grant, Cheryl Rogowski, Nancy Colgan interested. Artists to develop branding, packaging?? Due Feb 23

More BUY LOCAL stray thoughts:
Julia Kole is putting together a Gallery Space and BUY LOCAL gift shop at Arrow Park for a May opening:
local soap maker, local cutting board maker, local cards and greeting cards from SES project? Are these ways to expand offerings at Farm Stands and Markets?

Secondary Items to discuss if there is time:
Any Ideas for working directly with the Farm Stands this year?? Orchard Event? like this?? Steve Pennings, Steve Roe are you interested?

Report on Operation Conservation, the ongoing ag and arts model school project at Sanfordville School in Warwick Jane Hamburger, Dan Mack participants

Our Blog/Diary:

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Operation Conservation SES

For several months, two teachers in a 5th grade class, a green builder, a retired school administrator and two errant artists have been working with about 40 students to plan and start executing a revitalization of a derelict interior courtyard of a relatively new school building into a garden and incubator for "sustainability". This is a fascinating project on several levels and I'll only be commenting on a few of them in this blog. The students have already set-up their own Website I am looking to see how integral "art" can become in this project. One sad, all-too-common default position for art is as "decoration"... For me, this project is an opportunity to see how far the boundaries of art can get stretched. Making a Debris Hut has offered one such opportunity for all students to encounter their own sense of design, problem-solving, team work...

"The arts can help students become tenacious, team-oriented problem-solvers who are confident and able to think creatively. These qualities can be especially important in improving learning." Arne Duncan - U.S. Secretary of Education

It impacts the last year of the Arts and Ag project in a very central way. In many of our charettes, there was that familiar moment when the ag people wondered what "art" or artists could possibly do for/with them. The artists, too, were immediately most comfortable with exhibits, better signage, festivals of arts... all pretty well-known and tried packages for arts. At best, it was a molecular arrangement, not a sub-atomic ah ha This is also an interesting experiment in the lure of Low-Tech in a Hi-Tech world. Human bodies and psyches have not changed that much over time. We are built for the low-tech. Can Operation Conservation slow things down? Celebrate the Organic, both in the earth and the humans?

Why Art is THE essential partner in this:
“Talking to trees and hiding in trees precedes saving trees.”

David Sobel

Recurring Questions for All Groups:
What elements of Conservation and Sustainability are most important?
How can they be expressed? how many ways?
Why will students and teachers would want to keep coming and coming back to the Courtyard once they've visited the first time?
Is admiring our work enough???
Is our information important and interesting? Can they use it?
What can visitors DO? This is really a "marketing" issue

Cool Sites to Look at and Visit:
Omega Center for Sustainable Living, Rhinebeck, NY
Green Museum Mount Tabor Middle School Rain Garden
Pacem in Terris
Storm King Andy Goldsworthy's The Wall That Went for a Walk" is just 15 miles away!!
Local Nature Centers in Cornwall and Bear Mountain

Fundraising Ideas: Already they are collecting and recycling
bottles ($100 by 2/24) One group has started making seed pots from newspapers to start seedlings in and possibly sell to people. There was some talk of making Conservation Note Cards.

Structures to Make:
Mount black netting on the Brick Walls to hang things, news, poems, art on.

What to do with the Compost area? Surround with old pallets to signify that wood is the hardest material to re-cycle. Maybe we buy or get a new fancy one like this Earth Machine and compare and contrast how each method works?

What to do with the Benches? Can we paint them? Use the dremel to carve quotations from John Muir, Rachel Carson and Ansel Adams?

Paint just black/white tree/spiral outlines on the Courtyard walkway and keep adding leaves and new textures --in chalk--throughout the year?
(A few students noted that the chalk would just wash away. We said: Yes, indeed! We’ll just have to keep doing it again and again, sort of like farming. And maybe even other classes can come and do it. So a Tree Outline at one entrance and a Spiral at the other. Perhaps, there's some Eco-Hopscotch game we can develop for people to play along the Spiral ... with recycled bottle caps as the reward?

We're talking and planning some kind of Branch Hut
in one of the darker corners. Is there a place for a Secret Garden? Can those model Brush Huts the students just made be the start of a Fairy Housing Project??

In early February we put up some airy wind objects from plastic bags and bottles. Do they scare away birds? Well, there were crows and a few doves around the other day...Paul (Nate’s father) is helping make bird feeders and bird houses. What about Bees? Butterflies? Chipmunks? Bears? Deer? and the Bobcats that seem to be making an appearance in the area?

A Sun Dial! How much more low-tech and magical can you get!
Make carved directional signs to indicate the four directions

Make things that evoke the Elements of Air (fabric strips),Water, Earth, Fire

Make things that make people Listen, Smell, Taste, Wait, Hunt, Get Surprised,Delighted

Make Opportunities for visitors to add something of theri own. "I did that"

Have a nature poetry center... to read, write leave poems.
Make up stories about what happens in the Garden when the school closes

Have Operation Conservation Cards to make and collect. Each card is about some different part of the Courtyard: planting, soil, birds, quotes from Muir, Adams, Carson.
Have Operation Conservation Cartoon strips and Activity booklets. Several of the students are into cartooning; the teacher has already worked with the whole class doing cartoon strips. Can this be a strong base for reflecting what the project is about?

Have a place for Nature News On Boards? Teachers bring classes who read the news and pick and discuss their favorite The Art Group creates logo-format for the information
an example Did you Know: Birdsongs Birds sing using the syrinx, the avian vocal organ. Singing is usually confined to males and is at its height during the breeding season, when it is used to attract a mate. Birdsongs are usually more complex and longer than birdcalls. There is evidence that songs are learned, while certain calls are inherited. A male chaffinch hatchling, for example, sings a "subsong" but only learns the true song by hearing and imitating adult males.

Results of 1.20 Survey asking other students and teachers what they'd like to have in the Courtyard:

Other classes can leave questions for Operation Conservation to research and answer
Have other Classes artwork Art group collects and curates theseHave Operation Conservation Experiments other people can do…
Oh yes, finally, there is big interest in having a chocolate fountain in the Courtyard.

Landscape Architect Barbara Restainio has been working on a study of the Waywayanda Creeek in the Warwick area for about a year. She's noted how it flows right through the Sandfordville School property ... and after looking at this blog sent these pictures of a related school project in Oregon.

Hey Colin and Rob, here's a good 5-minute youtube

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Arts and Agriculture Placemaking Develops

January 10, 2012
Since December, some of us have been meeting at a monthly potluck supper to see what the next steps might be for developing a better, more vibrant sense of place in Orange County by heightening the role of arts and agriculture. We've selected several of the conclusions from the Visioning Sessions during the summer and started talking and planning and looking for partners to develop plans and ideas. Here's what we are actively talking about from the conclusions of the Visioning:

“More Land-Based Festivals and Events“:

February 19, 2012, 11AM-3PM at Arrow Park, Orange Turnpike, Monroe, NY
Ice Harvest Festival. A mid-winter celebration of the beauty of the season and the faded tradition and skill of harvesting ice
Partners: Arrow Park and Museum Village and several artists Julia Kole of Arrow Park and Bob Schmick of Museum Village have started to put together this Festival. “Connections with Schools to educate about Ag and Arts”

Courtyard Gardens in local public school with underused courtyards. A place to start to introduce elements of gardening, farming, sustainability within the school and tied to curriculum.. We invite local farmers and artists to visit. This addresses the need for more education around both arts and agriculture. This has started with 3rd-4tth grades, Sandfordville School, Warwick, NY Partners: Jane Hamburger, Daniel Mack, Thom Woglom

“More Ag-based Local Products to sell at Farmstands.”

Museum Village is developing a series of workshops for farm families and veterans in handcrafts production. These start January 13th

Make Orange County a richer “web” of experiences. Develop Other Land-Based attractions in County to complement and model direct Ag-Based activities.

Seligmann Center for Surrealism Developing an art/tourism presence on the 55-acre homestead of Surrealist Kurt Seligmann. A committee has formed to create activities, events and permanent installations and a study center to attract people to the Seligmann Homestead where they can experience and learn about the history (and future) of Surrealism and particularly the Surrealists in Orange County.
Partners: The Orange County Citizens Foundation and 12 artists Contact: Nancy Proyect
Two Related Black Dirt Experiences:

Black Dirt Bike Tours. Cheryl Rogowski and Pat Gallagher are planning Bike Tours that visit area Farms and Artist Studios.

Black Dirt Rail Trail. Matt Kierstead presented images and ideas on what a trail along the old Lehigh & New England Railroad
bed in Black Dirt might look like. Here's how far it might run and the Balck DFirt
delights you'd see: Magical!

Pending Activities and Interests:
Artists-on-the-Farms Partners: The Wallkill River School and 15 county farms Contact: Shawn Dell Joyce

The Warwick Summer Arts Festival. Now in its 12th year of presenting quality performing arts in farm settings. Contact: Liz Reese
Partners: Scheuermann Farms, Pennings Farm, Community 2000 and several artists

Steve Roe of Roe Orchards, Chester, NY, is interested in expanding the Arts in the-Orchard events he's been doing.

“More and Better Branding of Arts and Ag.”
1. Warwick Valley Chamber of Commerce is interested in a Visit Warwick Valley campaign to include new events, activities, opportunities, restaurants, shops to motivate people to ‘come, go and come back soon.’
Partners: Warwick Valley Chamber of Commerce, its members and several artists
Contact: Cedric Glasper

2. There was talk of a Weekly Concierge Newsletter: what to do in Warwick Valley this week for area visitors. Orange County Tourism has a way to do this.

The next PotLuck is scheduled for Monday night, February 6th at 5:30 pm in Sugarloaf.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Arts and Ag for 2012

Arts and Agriculture Meeting – December 12, 2011

This meeting--a delicious potluck supper-- was for artists, farmers and other non-farm venues to meet each other and talk about their individual interests in the Arts and Agriculture place-making project in an effort to find commonalities that could turn into real partnerships. Dan discussed the work done under the current NEA grant awarded to the Wallkill River School and some of the ideas that came out of those meetings. The Arts Council is not eligible to apply for a follow-up NEA grant until 2013, so funding for these projects will have to come from other grant opportunities or corporate sponsorships. NYSCA is a possible grant approach to take, but the projects will have to fall under some larger umbrella goal in order to lend cohesiveness to the grant application. The goal will be to develop ideas that can be done with little to no funding, as well as ideas that will require more significant funding so that, regardless of the outcome of our grants, some projects will still happen.

Who Was There:
Seth Aylmer is from Brooklyn, works with an organization called, and is interested in developing public art projects, art on the land.

Dawn Ansbro, Executive Director of the Orange County Arts Council, is interested in incorporating a “farm tour” into the Arts Council’s existing Studio Tour program.

Jane Hamburger is working with Dan Mack on a project to use school courtyards as agricultural learning opportunities and to develop a model that can be replicated in other schools both in and outside of Orange County.

Robert Schmick is from Museum Village and is interested in using their land to help promote agricultural education. He has partnered with the J&AFarm to farm part of the property and possibly use original farming techniques to tie the project to Museum Village’s historic mission.

Laurie Seeman, Strawtown Studio in Rockland County, is an environmental artist who enjoys working with youth and has an established curriculum that could be replicated on a farm.

Joanna Dickey works with Laurie Seeman at Strawtown and has a background in murals and print-making. She is interested in working with youth and making art both on the farm and from the farm.

Gar Wang is a Warwick artist and educator who lectures on organic gardening. Her interest is in developing a program involving the connection between certain traditional art forms/crafts and farm animals/plants (fiber arts such as felting, weaving with sheep, goat, alpaca, etc. as well as dyeing fibers with natural plant materials) and she would be interested in talking with Robert Schmick about the programs at Museum Village as she is interested in the educational potential of this idea. She does not want to see this project become a “tacky” tourism attraction like Applefest which bases its success on commercialism, scale and the use of outside vendors as she feels this could destroy the small town community we all treasure here.

Cheryl Rogowski from Rogowski Farm already does dinner on the farm, breakfasts on the farm, wild week walks, tomato festivals (no more). Interested in preserving what they represent and getting people back in touch with the land while maintaining the integrity of the land. Mentioned Glynwood, a small non-profit working farm in the Hudson Valley ( and their ability to get a small modular mobile slaughterhouse on the property which is needed in Orange County. Also mentioned the interest in master canning classes.

Ron Gee is a Warwick artist and is interested in using the landscape as canvas. Mentioned project in Japan where different color crops are planted in such a way that they create a work of art when seen from above – this is both aesthetically pleasing, as well as practical.

Cedric Glasper, board president for the Warwick Chamber of Commerce, is interested in place-making and is working with the Chamber to develop a tourism strategy for the Warwick Valley region.

Julia Kove is with Arrow Park in Monroe, an 11 room lodge on 77 acres with a 52 acre lake. They will be re-opening after renovations early next year. Julia would like the property to be used more as a community space. She wants to start a community garden and to bring inner city people up to learn about agriculture and sustainability. Would like to work with local artists on art shows or sculpture along the trail. Wants to bring back the experience of rural life, be family-oriented and wants people to experience a sense of wonder during their visit. Julia brought her co-worker who is a designer and set decorator from Los Angeles.

Nancy Colgan is an agriculture teacher in the Warwick school district and has been interested in the Arts and Ag project from the start. She teaches leadership, community service and institutional stability through agriculture.

Michelle Gluck is new to Orange County and teaching at a private school. She is interested in art and environmental education, loves hands on experiences, is into nature discovery and is very interested in the development of a bike tour in Orange County.

We discussed the following places to work with:

Arrow Park (Monroe), Seligmann Estate(Sugar Loaf), Rogowski Farm (Pine Island)
J&A Farm (Goshen, Museum Village(Monroe), Roe Orchards(Chester), Late Bloomer Farm(Campbell Hall), Pennings (Warwick)

Ideas generated
Initiatives aimed at sensitizing Orange County Residents to Arts and Ag issues
Work Arts/Ag Ed into schools
Teaching people about sustainability and Orange County as a food shed
Skill-building – people interested in this due to poor economy
There are grant monies available for projects with a public education focus
Develop activities aimed at Families
capitalize on the success of the Farm Aid event by having another event in the spring to keep agriculture in people's minds(and hearts)
Encourage not-for-profits to have their public fairs and festivals on the land in parks where people have to walk and discover new areas of in formation; artists can be involved in this

Tourism Initiatives: Attracting visitors:
Consider getting tourist referrals from resorts in the area: Mt Creek, Glenmere, the B&Bs: develop an information sheet on what farms,what artists studios are open and avaliable to visit regularly.
Develop Bike Tours that include both farms and artists studios
Develop Ag/Art places to visit with Public art, Art on the land
Offer rural-land-skills oriented workshops for tourists

Grant-Oriented Ideas:
Create place-based events that can be replicated in other places/farms/counties
Need terms like "conservation", education, skill-building to develop a cohesive grant
Projects must be collaborative to be eligible for funding
Need to have one person/organization to be ‘in charge’ in order to check up on people, hold them accountable, collect information, coordinate efforts. If Arts Council writes the grant, they will be that organization.
If there is no central grant, consider having ag and arts affiliates: where people do ag/arts related work and come together once and a while to share and learn from each other.

The next meeting is Monday, January 9th

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Orange County Ag and Arts Project for 2012

We have now completed the focus groups/charette process for the NEA Arts and Agriculture project and thank you for your time and energy. We invite you to see the entire list of ideas generated Please use this blog to comment and indicate your particular interests.
Fifteen of us met to discuss these ideas and help shape the next steps of the project for 2012, at a Potluck Supper at the Arts Council offices at the Seligmann Homestead in Sugar Loaf on Monday, December 12 from 5-7pm.

Here's a report
We're meeting again in early January to form action groups around the ideas people have the most interest and passion for and begin to find the right artists for the right projects on the right farms. Here are some examples. Please call me with any questions

Dan Mack
Arts and Ag Committee Member
845 986 7293