The hotels around here are all sold out, the apple orchard across the street has called an ‘all-hands’, every door is flanked by a big fat mum and the hillsides are about to light themselves into a rainbow of color – it is fall in New England. But despite this notorious love of the harvest and all things agriculture, the countryside and the land we once enjoyed through all the seasons is rapidly disappearing. Local artist and community leader Linda Hoffman wrote about the trend to merge Agriculture and Art in an effort to save land and strengthen New England’s agricultural economy.
Excerpted from the Autumn Issue of PITH + VIGOR:
The vanishing happened as quickly as a magician’s trick – a dairy farm became Easy Acres; an orchard turned into Orchard Hills, a subdivision with forty duplexes. In the late 1980s and early 1990s the agricultural landscape was disappearing all over New England. Much of the land, orchards and fields was threatened not only because of the pressures of development, but because farmers themselves were disappearing. Farmland needs a farmer, or it will return to a woodlot within a decade.
As an artist living in a small town in Eastern Massachusetts, I experienced this first hand. One fall, the hay wagons, pumpkins, cornstalks and apple baskets were gone from the orchard where I picked apples with my children. I decided to make an artwork about the disappearance of agriculture from the New England landscape and put a notice in our local newspaper asking for donations of old agricultural tools. With that one small ad I touched something; people responded with warmth and generosity. Usually it was a single tool, a saw that had belonged to a grandfather, a scythe, or a treasured rake. I made a series of fourteen sculptures and poems, “The Agricultural Tool Series.”
– Linda Hoffman, Owner of Old Frog Pond Orchard and Studios, Harvard, MA
Old Frog Pond Farm & Studio is open for pick-your-own apples and raspberries. The sculpture exhibit is open on weekends beginning September 5 . Visit the website oldfrogpondfarm.com for information, directions and hours.
AGRI-TAINMENT EVENTS IN NEW ENGLAND
Fruitlands | fruitlands.org As part of their Art In Nature series, 20 new sculptures are currently displayed across the grounds of this 210-acre museum campus in Harvard, MA.
Park HIll Orchard | parkhillorchard.com Art in the Orchard is a sculpture trail which winds through the Park Hill fruit gardens and runs from August 13 – October 31, 2015. Easthampton, MA
Chesterwood | chesterwood.org East meets West with sculptures by members and alumni of the Boston Sculptors Gallery. Open daily through October 12. Stockbridge, MA.
Pingree School |www.pingree.org The sixth annual Flying Horse Outdoor Sculpture Exhibit will feature 45 works by 39 New England artists, all displayed on the 100-acre campus of Pingree School in South Hamilton, MA from September 5 to November 22, 2015.
photography: Lidians Lyre by Linda Hoffman, Compost Tea by Linda Hoffman and Gabrielle White photos by Linda Hoffman