Aug 16, 2009


The Big Neighborhood Supper was a delightful, mellow success! Thanks to all who came, shared, and laughed. My still photos are here.

BIG thank you to Maggie for conceptualizing, organizing, coordinating, hosting, cleaning, and now producing a workbook!
Off to Chicago, but more soon! Sharon

Aug 12, 2009

Menu (awaiting participant input...)

Chilled Cucumber Soup
(with wild dill, parsley, foraged purse lane, scallions, and mint sprigs)

Fresh lettuce greens, rainbow chard, tomatoes, cucumbers,
+ homemade dressing (yet to be determined)

Main Course:
Tomato-Basil Frittata with fresh chives, garlic
with a side of grilled sweet corn, beets and summer squash
(seasoned with garlic, sage and onions)

Musk Melon bowls containing homemade garden mint ice cream
topped with warm plums foraged using the Urbana-Champaign Fruit Trees Goodle map (marinated and baked in the canned peach jam from July Canning Workshop)
finished with local fennel sprouts

Peach Wine
Strawberry Wine
Katy's Special Punch
Peppermint and Lemon-Mint Tea
*maybe some home brew beer as well.

Aug 11, 2009

Tomato Love and Celebration Time...

Just wanted to say how much I really appreciate all of the support, words of encouragement, advise and promotion that has been offered throughout this project. Working and learning from everyone involved has done more than educate me: it has warmed my heart and confirmed my belief in the power of communities working together to create a better world. (Ok, enough of the cheesy commentary, I know, but it had to be said...)

The Big Neighborhood Supper is only days away and we've got 35 folks confirmed to participate. We will be sharing and making not only a great meal, but also a richly encompassing event (including music, kids activities, animals, installation art, etc.)!

Not attending? worries... there are still ways in which you can be involved in the project:

Donations: I have put together the tentative menu for Saturday's supper and almost all of the ingredients are coming from participants gardens or cellars (home brew, etc.)! However there are a few ingredients that we can't produce in time for this meal such as heavy whipping cream (for fresh garden mint ice cream) and oil, etc. A great way to support the project is to make a monetary donation and then I'll can use it for additional ingredients for the supper or to replenish cost concurred from canning, brewing supplies, butchering knifes, printing costs, etc. (As many of you remember, I initially was counting on the Urbana Public Arts grant to aid in project costs, but since that didn't come through, I have been covering all expenses myself.) I will be getting the additional ingredients together in the next few days, so the sooner you donate the better. Thanks so much.

Written/Artistic Contributions: Another way to continue to support the project is to give input to the forthcoming workbook about this and other yet to be determined community organizing projects. I'm working on publishing a little community organizing workbook to serve as a guide for other communities to try similar projects. This workbook portion will begin to take shape in the next month. To continue with the collaborative participatory nature of this project I'd love to have help writing and creating it. If you would like to be a contributing author, artist or adviser on portion of the project please get in touch with me. I see the workbook as including more general tips about community organizing, people as information resources, how to establish relationships between artists and communities, etc. I welcome any and all input on this and other related topics. Know a printer I can use? Email me with your ideas or questions or simply do a write up or make a drawing/photo and send it my way.

Thanks again for all of your help and happy community-produced eating. It's harvest time!
And to those of you coming this Saturday, check the blog for soon to be posted final details and start getting excited. It's going to be delicious and fun.

Aug 7, 2009

Photos from the Fall Prep. Workshop:

JP Goguen posted some nice photos from the Composting Workshop this Wednesday to his flickr page. Tips and take-aways from the workshop will be posted soon. In the meantime, check out the Four Seasons Farm link.

RSVP Reminder

Remember to RSVP now if you are planning on attending the culminating Big Neighborhood Supper. (a project participant is building custom tables for this event, so getting a final count is essential!)

August 15th, 2009
*Venue Change
113 South Poplar St. Urbana, Il

4-7 p.m food prep, cooking, etc. (Supper follows.)

RSVP by emailing with the number of guests and what goods or services you will be bringing along. Thanks.

Can't make it, but still want to help out? Donations are always welcome. Email for more info.

photos from Ohio

Chicken Butchering Workshop in Ohio

I spent last week in the woods of Ohio at Harold Artist's Residency Program. I brought Georgia, my Barred Rock hen with me to assist in leading a workshop on chicken butchering. I attended the local produce auction and met a friendly Amish woman, named Verna, who offered to teach me how to harvest and gut chickens on her family's farm.

Two days later I woke early and made my way to the Amish farm (gladly accompanied by fellow artist, Claire Pentecost). Four hours, many stories, countless life lessons learned, and 20 slaughtered chickens later I had had a much better education on how to butcher chickens than all my library books and youtube videos had provided for me. I returned to the tree farm where I was staying and held Georgia for a while. This moment encouraged me to contemplate gravity of the entire concept, of not only this project, but how and why we live the lifestyles we do in these times.

Two more days later I led a workshop with fourteen fellow artists, two local farmers and six (then live) chickens. This workshop revealed the often secret, at least not common knowledge practice, of chicken butchering and roasting. John, a Chesterhill local, built an awesome spit that we used to roast the chickens whole over the open fire. We ended the workshop with fulfilled sprits and very happy bellies.

One thing this project continues to reveal to me is that people are often the best resources we have for learning about our food. As an aspiring librarian, I can't help but initially gravitate to conventional sources of information: books and the Internet. However, in each of these Big Neighborhood Supper workshops I have learned exponentially more information about a particular subject matter from the humans involved in the project than the books or the Internet. This inspires me to reconsider what, or whom, I consult for information, especially information about where my food is coming from.

Jul 22, 2009

Thanks to Susan Rodgers and Tom Abrams for a delightful tour of their garden and a chance to forage for volunteer spices and wild plants around Meadowbrook Park. We found dill, lamb's quarters, mint, and more mint. Photos of our garden visit are here:


Here are a couple of excepts from books I've been reading. Both of these epitomize what it is about this project that excites me most!

How interconnected are we all?

“In the eye of the or the gardener or the farmer who grew it, this food reveals itself for what it is: no mere thing but a web of relationships among a great many living beings, some of them human, some not, but each of them dependent on the other, and all of them ultimately rooted in soil and nourished by sunlight. I’m thinking of the relationship between the plants and the soil, between the grower and the plants and animals he or she tends, between the cook and the growers who supply the ingredients, and between the cook and the people who will soon come to the table to enjoy the meal. It is a large community to nourish and be nourished by.” -Michael Pollan, from In Defense of Food

On the discussion of Public Art: “Is ‘public’ a qualifying description of place, ownership, or access? Is it a subject, or a characteristic of the particular audience? Does it explain the intentions of the artist or the interests of the audience? The inclusion of the public connects theories of art to the broader population: what exists in the space between the words public and art is an unknown relationship between artist and audience, a relationship that may itself become the artwork.” – Suzanne Lacy, from Mapping the Terrain, New Genre Public Art
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