Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ag and Arts Develops

After several brainstorming meetings, a few things seem to be clearer.
First, saying "local farmers" is about as accurate as saying "local artists."
Every farm and farmer is quite unique. "Eccentric" was a word used in a few meetings to describe both artists and afrmers. Well, "in touch with passion" was another way it was put. Whatever-- It means that for an Arts and Ag project to root, there has to be a careful matching up of the right artist(s) with the right farmers.

I've started visiting some of the farms in this, the height of the Fall season. I watched families come up and ask the farmer what's there to do on the farm. "Are there animals? Hay rides? Petting Zoo? What's to buy." The families seem to see this as a great "stay-cation" One mother of six children said : "Animals. We don't ever see animals where we live." Another foursome from New York City had been to several of the area farms and the back end of the SUV was loaded with Orange County foods and drinks.
People seem to be looking for a combination of an activity, a souvenir and an experience. Each farm offers a different formula of that. Some are more markets, others are closer to a raw farm.

I'm visiting more area farms with an eye to how arts or arts-based activities might fit in. It's quite a interesting task. Some farms are tipped way towards the Amusement Park side of things. Oh, there might be a pumpkin patch and a corn maze and a hay ride but WHAM... there's the carousel and even the ferris wheel.

What's an artist to do??

How can arts meld with this?

Well, arts can certainly offer all three: activity, souvenir/object and experience. The question quickly becomes do people coming to the Farms really want some engagement with Arts. Can they learn to? A risk is that the "artist" might come to resemble the person leading kids around on the ponies, or driving the haywagon.

This is why the sorting and matching of farmers and artists will be important. Together they can develop, own and refine what the presence of art does on a farm. It will be a exciting experiment!

What might each get from this?

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