Edible Estates' Haeg Sees 'Turning Point' in Aesthetic History

Fritz Haeg -- of Edible Estates and other like-minded projects -- stopped by Farmlab on Friday, December 15, 2006 to provide assembled members of the general public and the Farmlab team with data, anecdotes, history lessons, case studies, and, in no small supply, inspiration.

Much of the information in Haeg's power point presentation and an accompanying short video was directly related to the conceptual roots -- please pardon the pun -- and subsequent execution of the first two of nine planned Edible Estates.

The inaugural estate is in Salina, Kansas, near the geographic center of the continental United States. The follow-up work occurred in Lakewood, California, a well-known post-WWII Southern California suburb.

The basic action of Edible Estates is to replace archetypal grass, chemical-laden suburban lawns -- "moats," Haeg called them at his Farmlab Salon -- with vegetable- and fruit-bearing plants.

Haeg believes the modern lawn is "an overtly hostile space," and "a defensive space." Like others before him, he traces the emergence of the suburban U.S. front yard to old English manor homes, when a (wealthy) man's home really was a castle.

Two Edible Estates might not a subdivision make -- much less a nation -- but Haeg has great expectations. "This," he told the Farmlab Salon crowd, "is an important turning point in our aesthetic history."

It's not without reason that Haeg, an architect and artist, has become such a media darling. He's as comfortable mentioning the Journal of Aesthetic Protest as his is talking about how much kids dig gardening.

At the Salon, Haeg also gave his (green) thumbs-up to the Farmlab team to use the Farmlab name, which, purely by coincidence, is similar to Haeg's GardenLab moniker. That name, Haeg said, derived from his wanting to offer balance to college students who were spending time in their school's Computer Lab, but not much time outdoors.

Haeg's Farmlab Salon marked the return of such open-to-the-public forums sponsored and planned by the team that put on semi-weekly programs during the Not A Cornfield project.



Salon with Fritz Haeg -- This Friday at Noon

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 15, 2006 @ 12:00pm

Please join Farmlab for a Salon with Fritz Haeg, famous for his Edible Estates and other great projects.

Free-of-charge, all ages welcome. Location: Farmlab.

"Fritz Haeg is unleashing a one-man attack on the American lawn, which the Los Angeles-based artist dubs a "carpet of conformity." Over the next three years, under the aegis of Edible Estates, which has already begun in Salina, Kansas, Haeg will be ripping up the front lawns of nine single-family homes in regions across the country and replacing them with food-producing vegetable gardens. The families whose lawns he's transforming have agreed to maintain the gardens, so the work is a permanent living installation. What's wrong with the lawn? Not only does it take a tremendous amount of water to keep it green, but the two-stroke engine used by lawnmowers produces some of the worst carbon-dioxide emissions for a motor of its size, contributing to global warming and other air pollution. Then there are all the pesticides and herbicides used to keep front lawns green. "We're stuck with this idea that plants that produce food are ugly, and lawns that you have to pour chemicals on and mow are beautiful," says Haeg, who hopes his lawns can reverse that thinking."
-- From Salon.com's The Big Idea list, October 21, 2005

Not A Cornfield / Under Spring / Farmlab
1745 N. Spring Street #4
Phone: 323.226.1158
Always Free to the Public, Handicapped Accessible
Free Parking

DIRECTIONS: From the intersection of North Spring and College (Gold Line - Chinatown stop) take North Spring north two blocks; take a left onto (unmarked) Baker Street; the warehouse is located directly across the street from the North Gate of the Los Angeles State Historic Park, site of the Not A Cornfield project. Related Map.



Annenberg Foundation moves the remaining trees off the South Central Farm Site

Huntington Botanical Gardens Will Offer Temporary Space for Safekeeping

Planning Begins for Monument to the Trees as Unsung Heroes of the Farm

Media Contacts:
Liza deVilla Ameen, Annenberg Foundation
310-209-4571 or [email protected]

Susan Turner-Lowe, The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
626-405-2147 or [email protected]

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE----December 12, 2006, Los Angeles, California —
The Annenberg Foundation announced today it will begin moving the remaining trees off the South Central Farm in Los Angeles in order to save them as the developer clears the land upon which the Farm operated. The Annenberg Foundation, through a new initiative named Farmlab, also announced plans to develop a monument to the trees as unsung heroes of the fallen Farm. While plans are being developed, the trees will be moved to a temporary site at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens until a permanent location is determined.

With communications as a core value of its mission, the Foundation is undertaking this effort in order to raise awareness of the value of living things through Farmlab, which is led by artist and Trustee Lauren Bon.

As Bon said, “This project started from an ethical conundrum. What does it mean when we live in a world where living things have little economic value? Where regardless of the issues that led to the Farm closing, trees, plants and seeds were bulldozed and 14 years of cultivated soil destroyed. This is the territory of Farmlab, our inquiry into the preservation of living things in an often hostile environment.”

Farmlab will make every effort to keep the trees healthy by working with tree experts from Valley Crest Landscape Development and The Huntington. “We are delighted to support the Annenberg Foundation in their efforts to promote urban sustainability,” said Steven Koblik, president of The Huntington. “The Huntington has long been dedicated to biodiversity and sustainability issues through its botanical education efforts. This collaboration gives us the opportunity to expand what we do – creating an educational center that focuses on teaching and learning about sustainable gardening in an urban environment. At a place like The Huntington, in the midst of one of the world’s largest metropolitan areas, this is at the heart of our mission – and our responsibility as stewards of green space and botanical life.”

In addition to temporarily hosting the trees on its property, The Huntington will work with Farmlab to create free access to the trees for the South Central Farmers and their families. Farmlab will develop related educational programming, which will include gathering oral histories associated with the trees. Details about that access and programming are forthcoming at Farmlab, 323-226-1158.

Over the past year, the Foundation has been actively involved with the South Central Farmers through the Farmlab initiative. The South Central Farm, the largest urban garden in the United States, was bulldozed in July 2006. Farmlab is now working to keep the spirit of the Farm alive, through the development of the tree monument.

For more than 14 years, the South Central Farmers redeemed an urban brownfield site and turned it into a healthy farm, which provided food and created a community for hundreds of often impoverished families. In 2005, Bon undertook her Not A Cornfield project, which converted a downtown Los Angeles brownfield to a Greenfield for one agricultural cycle. During the life of Not A Cornfield several of the Farmers approached Bon to discuss issues related to the Farm. Then, when Not A Cornfield concluded in May 2006, Farmlab was established as an initiative of the Annenberg Foundation.

Since that time, Farmlab has worked closely with the Farmers to save the trees, which are all fruit-bearing, including avocado, guava, citrus, banana, olive and more. The Farmers have unanimously agreed that the trees must be moved in order to save them and should be kept together. During their temporary stay at The Huntington and in the future monument, the trees will remain as a group. Farmlab is progressing on this project in consultation with the Farmers.

About The Huntington
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, located in San Marino, CA, is a collections-based research and educational institution serving scholars and the general public. More information can be found at www.huntington.org.

About The Annenberg Foundation
The Annenberg Foundation exists to advance the public well-being through improved communication. As the principal means of achieving its goal, the Foundation encourages the development of more effective ways to share ideas and knowledge. The Annenberg Foundation has offices in Radnor, PA and Los Angeles, CA. More information is at www.annenbergfoundation.org.

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What is Farmlab?

What is Farmlab?

The team behind the Not A Cornfield project in Downtown Los Angeles has become Farmlab, a short-term multi-disciplinary investigation of land use issues that are related to sustainability, livability, and health.

Among much more, as a nascent think tank, art production studio, and cultural performance venue, Farmlab is exploring what role, if any, the team can and should play in matters related to lessons raised and learned from the Not A Cornfield project.

Continuing to serve as a catalyst for community involvement and change through the development of art actions, projects, and otherwise, Farmlab is dedicated to the preservation and perpetuity of all living things.

For a more complete answer, we invite you to check back again with us in the coming months -- as the project team continues to learn, evaluate, reflect, brainstorm, tinker, and incubate.



Farmlab, In Photos



Metabolic Studio
Address, Map, Hours, Sample Directions

The Metabolic Studio includes Farmlab and Chora

Metabolic Studio
1745 N. Spring Street #4
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Google Map

Phone: 323 226 1158
email: info at farmlab dot org

Public Transport
- Take MTA Gold Line to Chinatown metro station.
- Exit metro station onto North Spring Street.
- Walk north on North Spring, towards the Los Angeles Historic State Park.
(The traffic will be to your right, the Capitol Milling building will be on your left
- Enter the State Park and continue walking north, adjacent to Baker Street.
- At the north end of the Park exit onto Baker St. through a gate on your right.
- Cross the road to the last group of warehouses on Baker Street
- Follow the Farmlab sign into the Metabolic Studio

Additionally, a number of buses run within a 10 minute walk of the Studio. These include the 45, 76, 376, 83 and 84, as well as the DASH lines B and Lincoln Heights/Chinatown (thank you BusTard).

Search MTA website for your best connection

From the 101 Southbound AND the 110 Northbound:
- Take exit 3B for Pasadena/CA-110 N
- Merge onto 110 North
- Take exit 25, Solano/Academy Road (CAUTION: off-ramp curves right sharply, GO SLOW!!!)
- Turn Left on Broadway
- Sharp right onto Spring St.
- You will see the Farmlab sign/building on your right while on the bridge
- Make a sharp right onto Baker st, after driving over the small bridge and follow the road to the last group of warehouses on the right.
- If you pass the Chinatown goldline metro station, you have gone too far.

From the I-5 Northbound:
- Take exit 136B for Broadway
- Turn left at Braodway
- Broadway turns into N. Spring St.
- You will see the Farmlab sign on your right
- Make a sharp right onto Baker st, after driving over the small bridge and follow the road to the last group of warehouses on the right.
- If you pass the Chinatown goldline metro station, you have gone too far.

From the I-5 Southbound:
- Take the I-5 S ramp
- Turn right on N Broadway
- Broadway turns into N. Spring St.
- You will see the Farmlab sign on your right
- Make a sharp right onto Baker st, after driving over the small bridge and follow the road to the last group of warehouses on the right.
- If you pass the Chinatown goldline metro station, you have gone too far.

From Downtown:
- Take Alameda away from downtown past Union Station
- Alameda turns into Spring st
- Pass the Chinatown goldline metro station
- A little less than one mile after the metro station, turn left onto Baker st (not a light)
- Follow Baker to the last group of warehouses on the right.