FOOD CHAIN – linking urban and rural, people and land, culture and agriculture

Food Chain  is an arts-infused caravan of mobile farm stands (Roadside Culture Stands) creating a vibrant marketplace of food, art, and ideas at existing food and land-centered events throughout the eight-county capital region of southern Wisconsin.  It links directly to Wormfarm’s annual Fermentation Fest – A Live Culture Convergence, brought to life in 2011 with considerable help from ArtPlace. Street food and street art are indicators of a lively economy and an engaged population. Link them together and see what happens.

ArtPlace spoke with Executive Director Donna Neuwirth about plans for this project.

What do you have to do really (really) well to achieve success with your initiative?

Keep focused on the why – farmers and artists have creation in common – Wormfarm’s work underscores this deep affinity.  To do what we do well, we can’t lose sight of that fact.

They say more relationships break up during major home remodeling than at any other time. Fermenting (or perhaps fomenting) positive change within one’s community is a huge remodeling project with significant risks attached. Creative disruption can go either way – toward positive transformation unleashing a desirable chain reaction – or something else entirely.

Timing is critical – It’s an exciting time for many rural places. The local food movement is exploding providing new opportunities for entrepreneurs; renewed attention to working lands; strengthened urban-rural exchange; and long overdue respect for farmers.  A growing number of artists from coast to coast may find a cornfield or a farmers market a more likely venue for their social practice than gallery walls or a sculpture park.

Collaborate – to succeed strengthen existing partnerships and seek out new ones. We are stronger together and interdisciplinary collaborations open a new world of possibility fueling the vision while gaining broad-based support.

Build on existing assets.   In the rural midwest we weren’t as affected as our urban neighbors by the economic downturn so there is a palpable sense of possibility. Here in farming country we have resources whose value is growing and a new wave of educated, creative people paying attention. We are at the right place and right time to ignite a wave of creative placemaking rooted in the land and its gifts. Understanding that a vibrant community is shaped with many layers beginning with existing assets – this initiative further develops our Roadside Culture Stand project that is in turn fueled by Fermentation Fest

How do you expect the community to change as a result?

Our project will help our community recognize the resources we already have and provide a framework to develop new effective strategies with which to amplify them. We find ourselves at a pivotal moment in history when the role of the farmer is being revalued – this interlocutor between humans and the natural world.  Through the involvement of artists we illuminate and celebrate this primary relationship. Through this project and others, our strategy is to grow curiosity and imagination – the breeding ground for vibrancy.

concatenate \kon-KAT-n-eyt\, verb:  1.To link together; unite in a series or chain.

PHOTO: Street food, Mexico City





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