Thursday, June 2, 2022

Trees Rooting for Environmental Awareness

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Art & Environment, Agriculture, Sustainability, Biodiversity, Global Climate Change, Global Change

Ed Hessler

Sam Van Aken, professor of Visual and  Performing Arts at Syracuse University, has launched a new project on Governors Island in New York, "a living agricultural archive," called The Open Orchard. Each tree is the product of grafting pieces from different trees to become a single plant.

Eventually, this orchard, just opened in April, will produce 200 varieties of heirloom stone fruits. Heirlooms were once common in home gardens, yards and orchards. The trees in this installation once grew in New City region over the past 400 years. There will be 50 hybrid fruit trees.

Here is Professor Sam Van Aken's Open Orchard page (Staten Island orchard), the trees in all their spring splendor, each with flowers of different colors. And here is the description of the project with some different images of Governors Island Webpage.

Professor Aken became well known at Syracuse for a single tree installation, Tree of 40 Fruits and as you will find from the images accessible through the Tree of 40 Fruit from the link above, the idea has spread to other communities in states across the United States. The link includes sections on trees, harvest, blossoms, sited trees, and nursery. 

In this Ted Salon video (11 m 15 s ) Van Aken talks about our loss of fruit tree biodiversity and how one tree grows 40 different kinds of fruits.

In the Spring 2022 of Syracuse University Magazine (article not available on-line), staff writer Sarah H. Griffith noted that the first conception "of the Tree of 40 Fruit, wasn't as a statement about climate change or even agriculture. He was curious about the idea of transubstantiaton--when the outer appears of something stays the same while its essential identify changes--and waned to create a tree evocative of that concept. He chose the number 40 because of its significance in various religious mythologies."

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