Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Urban orchard idea as a public art project

I have mentioned from time to time how odd spaces--bits of land which in DC are called reservations, created by the intersection of diagonal streets with the normal street grid--could be planted as orchards, and the fruit distributed locally.


-- Urban orchards (2008)
-- Urban orchard project in Philadelphia (2010)
-- Urban orchard in Chicago (2008)
-- Fallen Fruit project, Los Angeles

From the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine, Shaking the tree: How art student Lisa Gross is using apples to bring new social connections to neighborhoods":

A narrow patch of green near Blue Hill Avenue was hailed a few years back as a model of reclamation, a new rural escape in a part of Dorchester dense with multifamilies. Volunteers cleaned, tilled, and dug their fingers in, transforming a sketchy dumping ground into an Eden of vegetables and fruit. They called it the Generations of Hope Community Garden. The hope waned, though, as some gardeners stopped coming. Drug dealers and other bad actors filled the vacuum. But vestiges of more verdant days lingered – a red wheelbarrow, for example, leaned against a chain-link fence when I visited recently. And this spring, if an urban apple evangelist named Lisa Gross can put her vision into practice, the garden will be in the first ranks of a quiet revolution. A revolution of civic fruit.

Gross is a 28-year-old artist and graduate student at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts/Tufts. Her medium, for the moment, is apples as she launches an ambitious attempt to redefine the relationships people have with their food, with open space, and with others who live and work on their streets. She’s calling it the Boston Tree Party. Her aim is to enlist an army of growers to plant 200 apple trees in civic spaces in Greater Boston over the coming months and to nurture them for years. Not bad apples – you won’t see those waxy orbs of tastelessness we call Red Delicious. She wants heirloom varieties like Boston’s own Roxbury Russet, which dates from the first half of the 17th century.

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