Food for thought.
I visited Detroit a little over eight years ago. It was an inspiring place at an important time in its history. Shortly before the city filed for bankruptcy in 2013 following the steady decline in population due to collapse of industry in a city that was built for the motor industry. It is important to be careful about fetishising the crumbling of Detroit, for many residents for whom Detroit was a place to call home the fact that the city was in flux a source of best friction and at worst desolation.
But Detroit seems to have an enduring ability to overcome adversity and to build from the ground up; for some, the collapse of the economy had brought about the opportunity for a new way of life. Freed from the burden of the usual expense of city living – and with an abundance of unused spaces around them they had begun to grow things there.
At this time the transformation of the landscape was captivating but my interest was largely aesthetic. Retrospectively, having spent more time growing food to eat myself, and having read about farms, and farming I see it differently – this is less about a hopeful but dystopian juxtaposition and more about retuning our relationship with the most fundamental parts of our living.
Detroit perhaps more than anywhere embodies the hapless use of resources of the last century and of our arrogance in trying to shape the environment around our wants. But what emerged amongst the all the concrete and grand buildings, the factories and the once neat suburbs of the ailing city show how we could grow food close to home. It also shows that given the space it is something that people are drawn to do; and are nourished by.
Large scale farming – regimented fields of single crops or livestock, long transport chains are as big a testament to our carelessness as the metropolis’ they supply. Like the industry that funded the motor city, economics is the driving force for change as well as malfunction. Agricultural methods are usually brought about to meet market forces demanding for more produce at lower cost. As the fate of many who owned or worked the land in the drought stricken southern planes of the 1930’s shows, farmers are usually the first in line to loose out when things go wrong. As dystopian as our current days can feel at times, a total collapse of this version of society seems unlikely anytime soon. As long as we are all here we all need to eat – farming and agriculture is at the sharp edge of our irregular relationship with nature, and farmers are too often at the sharp edge of our poorly distributed economies.
Raime – Passed Over Trail
Call Super – Milkweed
Camp Of Wolves – Collapsed Adit
Triad God – Chow Bat Por
Heathered Pearls feat. Danny Scales – Muscle/Maintain/Feen
Nosaj Thing – No Mind
Arthur Russell – I Take This Time (Live 6/24/84)
Cktrl – Will The Feelings Leave
The Cinematic Orchestra – Lessons (Dorian Concept Remix)
Dr…um – Gloomy Monday
Pursuit Grooves – Footprints Galore
Cornell Campbell – Bandulu-Hard Time featuring Ra…
The Revolutionaries – Kunta Kinte Version 1
Mark Pritchard – Be Like Water
Kamran – Kamran
Boardgame James – Specialised Movers
Elf Kid – Golden Boy (Hilts Remix)
Ikonika – Please
Zha – Shattered
ETCH – Distrust
Coco Bryce – Deep Into The Jungle
Sound Source Direct – A Made Up Sound
Wardown – Thanks for Comming
Claude Speed – Backwards Track 3
Craven Faults – Hard Level Force
Griffit Vigo – Ancestral Vibe
Scratcha DVA – Storm_Original_Mix
John Beltran – Moth
Andy Stott – Faith in Strangers
Samples and further watching.
Living Soil: A Documentary – a documentary from the Soil institute looking at how large scale farming can adapt new methods to protect and enrich the most vital component.
James Lovelock explaining Gaia theory – how our planet could be considered an organism full of complex symbiotic relationships.
This Land Is Our Land: The Farm Crisis In America – 1986 documentary about the state of farming and the market forces affecting farming.
Dairy Farming in the UK in the 1960’s – a short documentary from the 1960s about dairy farming.
Motown to Growtown: Detroit’s Urban Farming Revolution – exploring Detroits urban farms and farmers.
Header image: Arthur Rothstein