WORMFARM_APR

Farm/ Art DTour is a meander through the rolling farmlands and scenic hills and valleys of south central Wisconsin punctuated with ephemeral art installations, learning opportunities and reminders that the word ‘culture’ comes from the Latin cultura meaning to till the soil. Though much greener than cities, farm land is still very much a built environment and before hands and machines could till that soil, imaginations had to take the first step.

ArtPlace asked Director and cofounder of Wormfarm Institute Donna Neuwirth what she thinks are the three keys to creative placemaking. Here are her three:

• Start with what’s there – it seems so obvious but often the impulse is to plunk some invasive thing down and call it an attraction- a water park, a mall, a performance venue.

• Stacking – we can’t help it we use agricultural metaphors all the time. Stacking is a term used among permaculturalists – those who advocate for a permanent agriculture- more perennial crops, less tillage hence less soil erosion. Each planted crop must perform at least 3 functions – example: provide shade for adjacent crop, attract beneficial insects, fix nitrogen in the soil. These plants work together to effectively process nutrients and sustain fertility. In other words – collaborate.

• Street life – both downtown and along country roads – random passersby must know your town is alive and get folks out of their cars. Street food, street music, street art attract more economic and cultural activity.

Sauk County Wisconsin is a rural county with a diversified agricultural economy consisting of award winning cheese factories, a whey protein powder plant, hundreds of family dairy farms and the co-ops that serve them, organic vegetable growers, CSAs, craft brewers and more.

We are adjacent to the Wisconsin Dells, the Water Park Capitol of the World, bringing in tourists from across the Midwest. Aldo Leopold, famed conservationist developed his “Land Ethic” here. Doc Evermore built his indescribable art theme park here as well. Frank Lloyd Wright’s home Taliesen is down the road as is the nationally renowned American Players Theater. And then there’s Agnes Moorehead and the Ringling Brothers, Chief Ah Ha Cho Ka, John Muir, Ernst Hupedin and countless other creative placemakers.

Wormfarm has grown in the rich soil left by our historical neighbors, and with ArtPlace support we hope to do the same for those who follow.

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