Straw Bale Farm

Arlington VA | 2013

STRAW BALE FARM is an ecological social sculpture–a participatory, highly visible, public artwork–designed to demonstrate Permaculture and DYI ways to grow fresh food with little land at low cost. The artist installed a straw bale sculpture reminiscent of a beneficial garden snake surrounded by portable “beds” of clean garbage pails and concrete blocks. Five participants from Arlington Community Gardens’ waiting list were invited and given equal spaces to farm independently for one season.  An abundance of healthy food grew lush on the bales. Participants agreed from the start to donate a self-determined share to a Food Bank program that supplements ubiquitous canned goods with fresh local greens.  At dismantling, composted bales were distributed to nearby community gardens.

WHY STRAW BALES? Sets up anywhere (even concrete), high crop yield in small space, low tech, no weeding/pesticides, extremely inexpensive; composts after harvest to enrich soil.

Commissioned by Arlington Arts Center (VA) and Arlington Public Art for Arlington Public Sites.

Part of the exhibit Green Acres: Artists Farming Fields, Greenhouses & Empty Lots

Sue Spaid, curator.

Q+A  Artist Interview, Arlington Arts Center Blog, 2013.

Karsten, Joel. “Straw Bale Gardens.” Cool Springs Press, 2013.