“Every fertile grain of soil has passed at least once through the gut of an earthworm.“ – Charles Darwin
This Live Culture Convergence is brought to you by the Wormfarm Institute with the help of many partners, funders, sponsors and friends.
Wormfarm is a Wisconsin-based nonprofit organization formed in 2000 by Jay Salinas and Donna Neuwirth. An evolving laboratory of the arts and ecology, Wormfarm explores the links between urban and rural communities within and beyond the food chain, creating opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration and fertile ground for creative work.
Wormfarm’s work springs from the concept of a “cultureshed,” a term coined in 1998 by co-founder Salinas.
Cultureshed is defined as: (1) A geographic region irrigated by streams of local talent and deep pools of human and natural history, (2) An area nourished by what is cultivated locally, and (3) The efforts of writers, performers, farmers, artists, musicians, scholars and chefs who contribute to a vital and diverse local culture.
The term conveys both the breadth of their vision and the belief that an authentic, compelling culture arises from a particular place. Wormfarm expands the concept of community-supported agriculture—which reconnects consumers with the source of their food—by connecting urban and rural, people and land, culture and agriculture. It extends the notion of sustainability to include not just nourishment to live, but a vibrant, creative community in which to thrive.
One way the Wormfarm contributes to the cultureshed is through its Artist Residency program. Each growing season, artists and writers from around the country come to the Wormfarm to create work and spend time in the vegetable garden. While many residencies act as retreats, the Wormfarm invites artists to engage in the life of a working farm. Past Resident Artist Ramon Lopez said this about his experience :
“While there, I was working in three different ways: creating my own paintings, contributing to local cultural projects, and helping in the garden. It was gratifying to see how the development of each of these activities was enriched by the influence of the other two.”
Residents share their work with the community, with a show or reading at the Woolen Mill Gallery in downtown Reedsburg. This constant flow of new ideas, perspectives and people enlivens the Wormfarm as well as the surrounding community.
Paving the way for the Farm/Art DTour, Wormfarm’s Roadside Culture Stands tangibly unite art and farming. The artist-built mobile farm stands display and sell fresh local produce as well as the work of regional artists while directing visitors to other cultural happenings. When located in rural areas, the stands reinforce the message “Eat the View” —if you want to preserve working rural landscapes, eat from the food chain that created them.
Just as the word ‘culture’ is embedded in agriculture, so was cultural expression itself deeply embedded within our landscapes and our ways of deriving livings from it. Through projects like the Farm/Art DTour and Roadside Culture Stands, Wormfarm works to reclaim the ancient alliance between these seemingly disparate fields of human endeavor.
More information here.