Thursday, December 30, 2010

Making Connections At The Wormfarm

A view from a studio; from The Wormfarm Facebook page

The Wormfarm started in 1995 as a CSA, growing vegetables primarily for urban folks, so that urban-rural connection was always real important. And one of the things that we noticed was that the cultural component seemed to have an urban base and the food-production component was mostly rural--so we kept trying to find ways of linking those two things. 
--Jay Salinas, Co-Founder of The Wormfarm Institute

A few months ago Andrew Taylor's blog The Artful Manager featured news of The Wormfarm Institute and its recent Wisconsin Governor's Award. As the above quote suggests, this is a farm that thinks about how culture and agriculture can be cultivated within the same acreage, and how rural and urban communities can find themselves linked through the process. Here's an excerpt from Mr. Taylor's discussion of the many programs and the many forms of work which emerge from these fields:
A particular favorite, for a while now, is The Wormfarm Institute, a combination of organic farm, artist residency, and cultural connector in rural Reedsburg, Wisconsin, working to ''build a sustainable future for agriculture and the arts by fostering vital links between people and the land.'' Artists in residency work 15 hours a week tending to the farm, and helping things grow. Artists also enhance the life and work of local farmers through the very cool Roadside Culture Stands project. The Woolen Mill Gallery provides a public space to connect the dots, as well (as in the current Smithsonian exhibit there).
The Woolen Mill Gallery, along with local taverns and restaurants, was also home this autumn to The Wormfarm's Fermentation Fest--a six week celebration of beer-making, canning, pickling, bread-making and, of course, the art of cheese. In the true form of a "cultural connector," all of these seminars and tastings were held in conjunction with The Smithsonian's Museum on Main Street program and its Key Ingredients exhibition.

Included below is a short film produced by the Wisconsin Foundation for the Arts to coincide with The Wormfarm's Governor's Award.