MOBILE ETHNIC GARDEN

Sponsor: Harvard Office for Sustainability

Services: Architecture, Fabrication

Featured in: TreeHugger.comCityFarmerSustainability at Harvard, TrendHunter

Food is perhaps the most accessible vehicle through which people can learn about other cultures...perhaps even moreso than language. This project engaged both children and adults in the community to take a long-term interest in growing vegetables that represented a specific ethnic theme. Like Michel de Certeau contended in his book, The Practice of Everyday Life, that “space is a practiced place...stories traverse and organize places...memories tie us to that place,” I wanted to create a space for people who would then keep coming back and in the act of doing so generate stories and understanding of other cultures through food cultivation.

Since the mobile garden can easily be moved from place to place, this experience is designed to be shared in many places over time and is not location-bound.  Seed packets were randomly distributed around a certain radius around site & a sowing time designated in the instructions. This modular garden on casters is comprised of half-hexagon modules which can be aggregated, rotated, and stacked to achieve a 3 functions-in-1 effect: 1) spatially-unique planter beds, 2) seating, and 3) storage for garden tools. The network of raised planter beds on casters are easily transported and arranged to optimize solar exposure and to accommodate different spaces and seating arrangements.

Constructed of Western Red Cedar and salvaged fir, the installation gracefully weathered when exposed to the elements over time with little maintenance. Initially, this project was located in the Harvard Graduate School of Design yard and grew Korean vegetables, as Korea was the country of focus for the course. It has been  successful in providing a place where the Harvard community, neighbors, and children could interact, eat lunch, and relax alongside a productive landscape. At the end of the growing season, dinner was served using the vegetables from the garden.