Seattle, with its long growing season and an environmentally-conscious population, provides many opportunities for its residents to participate in urban agriculture, producing food both in our backyards and in our shared public spaces.
In 2012, the public art program commissioned Nicole Kistler to be Artist-in-Residence for Urban Agriculture, to investigate and propose ways in which art can reinforce the activities of people who engage in urban farming and can enhance the places in the city where urban agriculture occurs. Kistler’s overriding premise is that urban agriculture and art making can be intertwined to build and promote community. This community-building in turn strengthens the city as a whole, knitting its diverse fabric of neighborhoods into the broader metropolis that values its sense of place.
Kistler, a landscape architect and public artist, interviewed individuals, teams and organizations in the non-profit and government sector. She visited and surveyed the many types of public locations where urban agriculture occurs, and noted how art activation currently occurs in these spaces. She also researched art activities that relate to food production, both current and historic. The artist codified the information collected into agriCULTURE, an art plan that proposes strategies and guiding principles that can be employed to encourage the integration of art activities with the practice of urban farming. Her analysis and recommendations are framed around six overarching concepts.
This art plan is rich with examples, images and recommendations. We hope that it will be both interesting and helpful to artists, city staff and urban agriculturalists, whose work enlivens the cultural and agricultural landscape of Seattle.