My farm running project begins today at Mitchell Ledge Farm in Freeport. More specifically, the running piece begins; the planning has been underway for months. Since I started running a few years ago, I’ve been hoping to come up with a project that would combine my running and drawing practices. Today, I embark on a collaboration with the Maine Farmland Trust and 12 farms around the state of Maine, in which I’ll be running farm boundaries and making drawings in response to the experience.
Running connects me with nature, and navigating the boundaries of farmland will be a process of experiencing the land and noting, in a bodily way, how farming is contained and what encroaches on its borders. Also, it will bring back memories of my childhood on my mother’s farms in northern Vermont. Running clears the mind and heightens perception. It exists in opposition to the desire for instant gratification, and it is that appetite (for instant food, information, etc.) that is in part to blame for the devaluing of farming and the natural world. Part 3 of the project will be to create drawings based on my experience of each run. The drawings will start with the literal shape of the path I’ve navigated, a graphic that will be drawn from the gps map of my run. Part 1 of the project has been dialogue-based, and communication continues to be a key aspect of the work. Gaining the trust of the farmers and the hard working staff at the Maine Farmland Trust has been a pleasure and has inspired me to create a clear, accessible structure for this project. Sometimes artistic process looks like making lists, writing proposals, and calling strangers on the phone to explain why I need to run through their fields in order to make a drawing! The icing on the cake will be the retreating to my studio to reflect on the experience and make marks on paper.
My farm runs will include the unexpected: terrain that’s tough to negotiate, a variety animals, electric fences… (I hadn’t thought of that one until I spoke with Andy at Mitchell Ledge Farm yesterday!). I’ve just purchased a key piece of gear, which has made me more confident about the potential delays that might come up during these adventures: the Gregory Navarino 12 pack. It fits snug against my back, can hold a large water bladder, has hip pockets, lots of little compartments and functions, and it’s red.