The Strawberry Project

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the strawberry project installation
Planting Strawberries 1
Planting Strawberries 3
Planting Strawberries 2
Planting Strawberries 5
Planting Strawberries 4
While in Adelaide recently for the Adelaide Fringe Festival, my friend Rob E and I discovered The Strawberry Project installation by Peter McKay at the Carclew Arts Centre with the following artist statement: "For about three years I have been planting strawberry plants in the cracks in the pavement and guttering of the city of Adelaide. I like strawberry plants because I think they are particularly generous plants, especially considering their size. Sometimes these plants are documented photographically. More importantly the plants are always recorded on a map of the city. Plants can live either a suprising long time or a suprisingly short time depending on weather, the various modes of traffic around and on them, and random acts of generosity toward them. From a distance I have seen a good number of people 'discover' a strawberry plant for themselves, and from what I can tell they seem to think their encounter borders on the miraculous. Please take a strawberry and plant it in a crack in the city if you feel so inclined. Digging tools are available too, but please return them for others to use. Peter McKay, 2006"

We were so inclined, so we borrowed a gardening implement and made our way out on to the streets, which was hopping with energy in the midst of the Adelaide Fringe and Adelaide Festival, et al - definately a great time to be in Adelaide..

We chose some pavement near the river entrance to the Adelaide University. As Rob E dug his plot in the naked soil between the gravel concrete and the fence I stood look out and took these photos. Passersby were intrigued by our random actions, and stopped to ask questions. We found they were very impressed with the idea and voiced the idea in all of our heads; 'why is it that we don't ever grow food in public?' It was a question which had been raised a few times in the Community Gardens Conference held out in Flinders Uni earlier on in the week. City Councils the world over have developed an elaborate public park infantry of professional gardeners and intricate underground watering systems, but none of this infrastructure is used to actually produce food.

I think that Peter McKay's artist statement gets to the point when he recognises the 'miraculous' nature of finding a fruit plant in the city street. But what does this simple act say about our culture and it's disenfranchisement from the simplest of natural wonders?

Under the suggestions of the pedestrians who stopped to talk (our Community Consultation process, no less) I decided to plant on the other side of the wall, to maximise shade and excess run-off from the university gardening system. Unfortunately these factors limit the potential for random discoveries by other pedestrians. It was a tough choice...

If you are in Adelaide, please take the time to visit our Strawberry plants and see how they are doing. They are located between Adelaide University and the River Torrens, just a little west of the main footpath entrance to the Union area. If you taste one of our strawberries, please drop me a line to tell me what they tasted like!

thanks to Peter McKay for the beautiful ideas.. Long live the guerilla gardening meme! xx Tim