Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Sunday Recap: Food Production & Public Assembly

Last weekend, over 30 community members gathered at the Public Library to take part in an open forum organized by Iowa City non-profit Backyard Abundance. Through collective inquiry and participatory design, the process of planning and implementing a food forest in one of Iowa City's public parks continued.
Having spent the majority of my month wrist-to-elbow deep in lamb placenta at the farm, or at the back of Farm Records 101, peering over a sea of camouflage Dupont baseball caps, or doing some other equally glamorous but largely solitary task, I was giddy to be a part of this empowered assembly, and within that context, to introduce SeedBroadcast’s upcoming project with Exuberant Politics: SWAP. 
Both SWAP, with its emphasis on celebrating local seed wisdom and bottom-up food sovereignty action, and Backyard Abundance, in it’s resolve to hear community voices at the expense, perhaps, of more efficient implementation of design, hint at what the notion of a civic, or politically engaged agricultural practice looks like in action.
The meeting drew community members from diverse backgrounds, growing experience, politics, and proximity to Wetherby Park. Master Gardeners and students, guys working on urban ag policy and girls interested in prairie plants. Folks who use comfrey to make healing salves, and folks who think comfrey is a too dangerous to be planted near children (don’t even mention rhubarb). While the majority of attendees were curious and excited about diverse food-bearing plants in public space, a multitude of concerns were brought up ranging from issues of aesthetics (a forest gardens is not an English garden), to the question of necessity (can’t you go to one of those other parks to experience nature?), to the big question of how to control the uncontrollable (What if one guy runs off with all the strawberries!?) 

While I didn’t get to record any audio seed stories, the Mobile SWAP Station did get a donation of Heirloom Lettuce seeds from New Pioneer Co-Op’s Earth source Gardens, and :: HOLY POST-MEETING CONVO’S:: some remarkable feedback from community members interested in delving deeper into action by effecting ordinance-making bodies, pushing for, and participating  in new pilot projects like free seed libraries and public gardens. 

*Photos courtesy of Backyard Abundance

Monday, February 24, 2014

HEADLINES : w/ Backyard Abundance

We had a great time with Backyard Abundance this weekend doing some Community Visioning.  Full report coming soon, but in the meantime, check out CBS's coverage of the event @ Iowa City: Edible Forest


"Be they large or small, the initial assemblies and the movement that seeks to foster them in civic elections remain the only real school for citizenship we have. There is no civic "curriculum" other than a living and creative political realm that can give rise to people who take management of public affairs seriously. What we must clearly do in an era of commodification, rivalry, anomie, and egoism is to consciously create a public sphere that will inculcate the values of humanism, cooperation, community, and public service in the everyday practice of civic life. Grassroots citizenship goes hand in hand with grassroots politics."

-Murray Bookchin: Libertarian Municipalism: The New Municipal Agenda

Thursday, February 20, 2014

GROWING A PUBLIC PRACTICE: Community Visioning with Backyard Abundance

Hey SeedBroadcasters!

This is Carolyn in Ely, making my first post for SeedBroadcast IOWA & Exuberant Politics.

I'm pleased to announce our first organizational collaboration with Backyard Abundance this Sunday, February 23rd, from 2:00-4:00pm at The Iowa City Public Library.

Following up with their 40-person public brainstorm session on February 8th, local environmental educators and eco-viosionarys Backyard Abundance will be dropping their new design for a perennial-based agroforestry system for Iowa City's Wetherby Park and opening up the floor for public opinion and discussion.

We'll be joining in with a short presentation on upcoming opportunities to get involved with SWAP, recording audio Seed Stories, and collecting seeds to be shared through the Mobile SWAP Station (due to arrive from New Mexico next week).

Don't miss out on this visionary public assembly! Come share your localized seed wisdom and discuss the infinite possibilities that emerge when we take our agricultural practices from the realm of solitary production & commodification to a practice rooted in public assembly, listening & cooperation.

You ready Iowa?!
We'll see you Sunday.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


During 2014, SeedBroadcast will be implementing a project called SWAP, as a series of traveling Seed Story pollination pop-ups with multiple partners around the United States. These experimental “grow kits” will enable the cultivation of radical seed action where participating organizations and individuals are performative agents, growing and broadcasting seed stories in their local communities and through the SeedBroadcast media network.

We are pleased to announce our first partners in SWAP are The Exubernauts!

During their bi-city event called Exuberant Politics, in Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, Iowa, SWAP will be located in both cities for visitors to engage, exchanging seeds, posting local seed and food news, and sharing and listening to seed stories through an in-house audio feed.

And we would like to welcome Carolyn Scherf as an Iowa SeedBroadcaster! Carolyn is a farmer and creative worker cultivating a joyous flight from corporatized definitions of value and success in Iowa agriculture.

She will be mobilizing one of the SWAP kits and partnering up with local organizations, farmers, and gardeners to reach out to a broad network of seed resilience. Carolyn will be recording local seed stories and posting blogs from theses events here on the SeedBroadcast blogger.

Stop by and join in SWAP, bring seeds to share, take seeds home to plant, post events, activities, and how to’s on the SWAP bulletin board, and come by to listen to seed stories!

March 5 – April 6 2014
Legion Arts 1103 3rd St. SE, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Public Space One 120 N. Dubuque St., Iowa City, Iowa

To follow SeedBroadcast IOWA and find local SWAP events: www.facebook.com/seedbroadcastIA

For more information about Exuberant Politics go to: http://exuberantpolitics.art.uiowa.edu