A special issue on “Phyto-Communicability” will be coming out in the journal Ethnos soon. My contribution to the issue examines the communicative capacities of plants that are used to “keep bad vibes away” or ward off unwanted presences in the city of Iquitos (Peruvian Amazonia). You can read a pre-print version of the article here.
Our zine “Infrastructural Digest” is now completed(!) and 250 copies have just been printed for the opening of the Privy2 demonstration garden. The zine features original artwork and essays by OSU students and faculty that reflect on the history of sanitation and its relationship to agriculture. You can download a copy here.
This summer I’ve been working with students and colleagues in the Knowlton School of Architecture at Ohio State to install a demonstration garden, titled “Privy2: Biosolids and You.” The project is designed to draw attention to the processes by which waste products are transformed into both agricultural and architectural resources. The garden is fertilized with Com-Til — a Class A biosolids product made by the City of Columbus — and planted with corn. The site will also feature an architectural pavilion constructed primarily of material derived from recycled plastics. You can follow our progress and learn more from the project website. You can also read this recent article that provides an overview of the project.
One of the projects I’ve been really happy to collaborate on here at Ohio State is the “Pop Garden” outside of Smith Laboratory, where my office is located. A new club on campus named GrOSU designed the garden and planted it with amaranth, popcorn, millet, and sorghum–all crops that can be“popped” and eaten. We were also very lucky to receive a donation of Com-Til – a nutrient-rich compost made from yard and sanitation wastes – from the City of Columbus. So who fertilized the pop garden? If you live in Columbus, it just may have been you.
We hope to develop other garden projects throughout our Columbus campus (including Waterman Farm) as part of the Initiative for Food and Agricultural Transformation (InFACT) Discovery Theme at OSU. If you have ideas of projects you want to initiate, please feel free to contact me.
With the support of the Ball Brothers Foundation, I am working with a group of Ball State students from the Departments of Landscape Architecture, Urban Planning, and Anthropology to help develop a new park in the Old West End of Muncie. The project, which began last fall, is a collaboration with the Old West End Neighborhood Association. Students recently completed the final site design and we are in the initial phase of the project’s implementation. We will be hosting a work day at the site (on the corner of Main and Cherry Streets) on April 25th. Please contact me if you are interested in getting involved in the project.
Today the Hub Community Garden was featured on the front page of the Muncie Star Press. The project, which grew out of collaboration between students from Ball State University and local business owner Hans Heintzelman, is designed to encourage the development of green space in downtown Muncie and serve as a potential model for the community.
Here’s a short video produced by one of my students in which I discuss the vision behind the Hub Community Garden in downtown Muncie, Indiana.