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This image of The Great Lakes from Mars in January of 2014.

This image of The Great Lakes from Mars in January of 2014.  Yahoo News

Greetings.  Please, get a sweater.  Our winter isn’t over yet.

I wanted to share images, thoughts, and even some video, from my 2014 Winter odyssey towards Buffalo, NY and the environments of the Great Lakes.  I was going to represent my work and the infancy of the Sewing Forgiveness piece, that was to be shown at the U of Buffalo Art Galleries, in the show titled Yoko Ono Fan Club, juried by friend and then curator, Julie Rozman.  Most fellow northerners I know were escaping the record temperatures and ice and headed somewhere south.  Of course, often feeling like I am swimming upstream, why would being in the coldest winter on record, send me to warmer climates too?  I rented a car (Hey!  It had a heated steering wheel!) and headed to Buffalo.  I made plans and reservations for Buffalo a couple of days.  Then, a Fluxus friend and his wife offered their home in Toronto, since I wouldn’t be far.  I committed to little, other than penciling off nearly a week away, and being with myself for most of it.

Driving long distances in February may not have been very smart in hindsight, but I made it there with little sliding around, one speeding ticket (Indiana) and a reason that revealed itself mid route.  I was driving, incapable of syncing my cell with the rental car’s system, trying to connect with dear humans while enroute (with no success) wind blowing, bitter cold all around.  Eyes watering up for the feelings I was having about my own judgement.  Wondering about the sanity of this trip and my ability to make other healthy choices in my life.  You know, that crazy making place we go sometimes when we want to beat ourselves up with the hammer of self doubt.

Then it hit me.

I would/could/should be near 4 of the 5 Great Lakes on this trip.  I followed so much of the weather patterns last year, its effect on the region, the water, our lives.  It was my way of embracing what was squarely in front me.  I came across the Yahoo image (above) from Mars, of the Great Lakes, sometime in early January of 2014.  I immediately thought “I need to render that feeling in porcelain.”  This road trip was weeks later.  I knew that I must supplement the piece,  presently only existing in my head, with melted snow and ice… from each Great Lake.   Of course!

Now the trip made sense.  Purpose, along with folly, mixed in with some risk and discomfort, and add good humans.  Now this is a road trip I could sink my cross country skis into!  I began mapping in my head, and later that evening in Buffalo at the Holiday Inn, and felt at peace with the New York state winds, snow, and the sense of possibilities ahead.

Another inspiring image of one of my favorite lakes.

I knew paddleboarding at Montrose was a far of dream.

I knew paddleboarding at Montrose was a far off dream.

20% of the world’s fresh waters comes from these beauties.  I can’t help but be in awe of them.

Here is a map along with some stats from a year ago, further affirming the uniqueness of our experience last Winter, and what has now proved, to be another, albeit waning, very cold, winter.  Note:  this is from 2014

Great Lakes Frozen 2014

and this comparison of 2014 and 2015 with more information here.

2014 and 2015 comparison with more info on the link below.

2014 and 2015 comparison with more info on the link above.

I think of my father this morning.  Today would have been his 81st birthday.    He is with me every day but especially when I see a swallow in flight.  Happy Birthday Dad.  I still miss you.

Watch for more on the final work, Polar Vortex.  Thanks so much for reading.

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Note:  This blog entry is dedicated to Keith Buchholz.  Without his invitation into this amazing group of creatives that is Fluxus, Sewing Forgiveness may never have been born.  With many thanks dear Keith.

Friday night September 5, will mark the next of many Social Practice performances titled Sewing Forgiveness.  Specifically, Sewing Forgiveness:  City of Chicago, will (and already has) entail a variety of sites and a variety of audiences, literally across the city of Chicago.

The piece was drawn from life; mine; fellow humans; as witness to the environment;  history;  @#$%&, even current events!  The struggle with forgiveness many of us have had, currently have, and inevitably will have again.  I consider the concepts and deep sentiment surrounding forgiveness, letting go, and moving on.    The utter bewilderment at the questions… If? How? When? Why? Who even!  Quite possibly, beginning with forgiving oneself.  If Nelson Mandela can forgive…

Sewing Forgiveness, a Social Practice work, unfolded firstly for the Fluxus Fest of 2013.  It was performed with a fellow human also struggling with forgiveness.  Together the conversation began.  I didn’t know that I would be performing the work outside of a couple of times throughout that four day festival of lovely absurdity.  Fluxus is like that.  Sometimes the works tickles your funny bone but more often the artist’s works enter your bones through your heart.  Fluxus makes us pay attention.

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Fluxus Fest 2013 Dorcester Projects

Fluxus Fest 2013
Dorcester Projects

I will aim to work backwards a bit, starting with this week to announce a performance of

Sewing Forgiveness:  City of Chicago at Wicker Park Lutheran Church  1500 N. Hoyne in conjunction with First Fridays of Wicker Park.  This announcement from our website:

“Arts Sanctuary (Friday, September 5th) – 7-10 p.m.

WPLC will be hosting a First Fridays series entitled “Arts Sanctuary” – a respite for the arts. September’s event is “Mercy, Unity, Restoration,” and features the social practice piece called “Sewing Forgiveness,” including art of various mediums, live jazz, and local beer. The event is free with donation proceeds funding Youth Futures, a local nonprofit cultivating restorative justice programs with young adults in Chicago.”

I would be honored to have you attend my church and our inaugural Arts Sanctuary event this Friday.  If you are unable, send some good energy our way and watch for further posts as they will relate directly with

Chicago Artists Month – Crossing Borders and this work

Sewing Forgiveness:  City of Chicago.

Thanks for reading and thanks for paying attention.

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I want to share so much today that I am not sure where to begin.

cups for Potable – Rock Springs

As the gesture Potable – Rock Springs, WI unfolds I wanted to firstly share the invitation to join me somewhere in Rock Springs or Reedsburg.

Here was the invitation I compiled for the opening of Watermark at Woolen Mill Gallery in Reedsburg, WI.

The cups are on exhibit with some wonderful artists that have made a career of making works related to our world’s water.  A link here to my Facebook images will give you a feel for the works at Watermark along with the opening reception.  The show was wonderfully received with Michael Frels and Hyeon Jung Kim present to celebrate our works and the works of the other artists unable to attend.

I dutifully laminated an invitation, just like the Potable – Pryor Avenue Iron Well in Milwaukee, and placed it near the (public access) well in Rock Springs prior to the reception.  I went to the well with Michael and Hyeon to collect water for the reception too.

Here we are at the well last month…

Hyeon, me, and Michael

at the Rock Springs Well

Husband Paul and I visited the well (me for the first time) last summer per the request of Jay Salinas of Wormfarm.  The well has a history with Paul as he took an across the state bike tour with some good friends in high school back in the 70’s.  They were riding to LaCrosse, WI and came upon the well and drank voraciously. It continues to be a fond memory of his.

Also, here is the well filmed and described on the FindASpring site.

So, on to the present day situation.  I received this email the day after the reception:

************

Ms. Schwalbe-Bouzide,

Your sign was brought to my attention today.  Even though the free flowing spring water is available to the public this location is on private land. Because this is private land you are not authorized to sell or give away any merchandise.

Diane Stoeckmann Chalmers
Rock Springs Artesian Water Corp.
PO Box 181
Rock Springs, WI  53961

***************

And then moving backwards in time from August 5th…

***************

Ms. Bouzide, Ms. Neuwirth and Mr. Salinas,

Thank you for your letters.  As indicated in my daughter’s original email this is my private property and the only activity I have authorized to the public is the collection of water. Consequently, I will not authorize any other type of activities including those discussed in your letter. I ask that you respect my decision.

Sincerely,

William D. Stoeckmann

***********************

From: wormfarm <wormfarm@jvlnet.com>
To: Catherine Bouzide <casbah3d@gmail.com>; Diane Stoeckmann Chalmers <dmschalmers@yahoo.com>
Sent: Thursday, August 4, 2011 6:34 PM
Subject: Re: Terra Cotta Cups

Ms Stoeckmann Chalmers,

We are writing on behalf of Cathy Schwalbe-Bouzide and her proposed Potable Gesture intended to be realized August 13 at the Rock Springs well head. Her intention is to simply fill plain yet beautiful hand-made ceramic cups from the free flowing well and offer them to passers by. She will neither sell nor distribute any merchandise or literature and may engage in pleasant conversation with anyone who stops.

Cathy is a talented and thoughtful artist who has worked with the Wormfarm for 3 years now. Her work both as an artist and curator addresses a range of issues, pertinent to agriculture and rural life in ways that are thoughtful, express respect and curiosity and that have been profoundly moving.

In 2010, she curated “Women and Grains” at the Woolen Mill Gallery in which artists from across the country converged on Reedsburg to create and exhibition that reached beyond the walls of the gallery and had lasting beneficial impact on this community. The Potable Gesture has the potential to do this once again. If there is anything we can do to help facilitate this by speaking to the regulating authorities and securing all necessary permissions and assurances please let us know and we will comply.

Donna Neuwirth and Jay Salinas
Co-Founders
Wormfarm Institute
culture/ agriculture
608 524-8672
wormfarm@jvlnet.com
http://www.wormfarminstitute.org

***********************
—– Original Message —–
From: Catherine Bouzide
To: Diane Stoeckmann Chalmers
Cc: wormfarm
Sent: Saturday, July 23, 2011 11:21
Subject: Re: Terra Cotta Cups

Dear Ms. Stoeckmann Chalmers,
Thanks so much for your communication regarding the Potable Gesture scheduled for August 13 in conjunction with Watermark at Woolen Mill Gallery.

Please accept my sincere apology for not having contacted you prior to posting my invitation.   It is my hope that I will gain your permission, or permission from whomever necessary, to celebrate this wonderful artesian well.  Please know that I was made aware of the Rock Springs Well last year during an art exhibit here in Reedsburg through the Wormfarm Institute, Donna Neuwirth and Jay Salinas.  Looking the well up on line via Find a Spring,   I was unaware of any permission that might be necessary.

I am an artist who has donated her time, resources, and creativity towards contemplative events, such as Potable, that call attention to agriculture and water use.

You may look at my blog entry here from a similar gesture in Milwaukee, WI in September 2010:
https://casbah3d.wordpress.com/2010/09/30/potable-realized/

Again, it is my hope to gain your permission to complete my art piece Potable – Rock Springs with your generous permission.

Thanks so much for your contact.  I look forward to hearing from you.
Cathi

c.a. schwalbe-bouzide
casbah3d@gmail.com

http://www.casbah3d.com
https://casbah3d.wordpress.com/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/casbah3d/
http://www.lillstreetstudios.com

************************

Well (no pun intended), that is where it all stands today.  I am not sure where the gesture will take place.  On the public access road near the well, back at the gallery with pitchers of Rock Spring Well water back at the Woolen Mill Gallery, or an as yet undisclosed place in between.  I know that if you are still reading this you wish this project well in every sense.  If giving away handmade cups is a radical idea and gesture then please count me in.  Please look forward to more images as the weekend unfolds.

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Today is day 6 of my time here in Stillman Valley with The Fields Project – Bringing Art and Agriculture together.  It is in fact my 8th year here after much counting and recounting with Anne Leuck Feldhaus.  (She gave me her application in 2004).  Thanks Anne!  I will be forever grateful.

As the previous post stated… My piece is titled TRUTH at Walnut Creek Farms.  I am staying with Ned and Lyrah Bushnell (they met at the first Fields Project 13 years ago!  They shared their medium format cameras with each other – so sweet!)  Ned educated me last year while here about soil, tilth, friability, no till vs. till, and so much more.  His appreciation of the stewardship of soil was palpable and impressive.  As an image you will see later advertises, Walnut Creek Farms won the Governor’s Award for soil conservation.  Needless to say, Ned is  a no till farmer.

Ned took me for a ride into the water ways last year and pointed out some clay veins not too far in to their fields.  I have been thinking of that clay since last June and have wondered about its use, the geological formations that gave it its color, and wondering about its ability to withstand a firing, possibly at a low temperature for sculptural works.  As Summer moved into Winter which moved into Spring it became evident that I wanted to created a time based work, with the local clay, in the script of TRUTH.

With great thanks to the Bushnell’s for their willingness to share their home, Ned’s farm equipment and time, the amazing meals in Lyrah’s “Test Kitchen,” and the best conversations with them both.

Enjoy some of the videos and images since my arrival.  Look forward to a final image when I have one!  Husband Paul is joining me tomorrow to dig the last several buckets of clay and place the clay on the “H.”  We are both looking forward to it.

Walnut Creek Farms, Stillman Valley, IL with guest appearance – Sidney the black lab.

Getting started, wonderful clouds, and the front loader…

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Here I am again… enjoying the wonderful mash up of art and agriculture with Ned and Lyrah Bushnell of Stillman Valley through the amazing organization that is The Fields Project.

TRUTH is my project this year.  Looking for TRUTH.  Finding TRUTH in soil.  Engaging others about their TRUTH.  TRUTH in my own life.  I asked about TRUTH on Facebook a few months ago having the a world I thought I knew turned upside down.

  • Dee BouzideWhen one has one’s hand full of truth it is not always wise to open it. ~French Proverb

    February 27 at 4:08pm · Like
  • Cathi BouzideLove to you Dee.

    February 27 at 4:10pm · Like · 1 person
  • Dee BouzideDitto Cath! ♥

    February 27 at 4:10pm · Like
  • Alexis Ortizit is a constant choice to see the beauty in the world (gift, not burden)

    February 27 at 5:05pm · Like
  • Shellie Schwalbe OlsonCatherine, my sissy, I am sighing right now…

    February 27 at 5:55pm · Like
  • Rosy O’GradyCalvin Klein sells Truth in a bottle. 🙂

    February 27 at 6:01pm · Like
  • Roberta Ulrich-de OliveiraWhat is truth?

    February 27 at 6:07pm · Like
  • Geoffrey BoveSometimes the truth sucks.

    February 27 at 6:12pm · Like
  • Lee Tracyare you looking for truth that comes with proof?

    February 27 at 6:24pm · Like
  • David Todd TrostTruth is overrated, well-formed lies are far more compelling.

    February 27 at 6:56pm · Like
  • David Aprilhere is some “truth in advertising”…http://www.lostateminor.com/2011/01/08/when-candy-wrappers-tell-the-truth/

    February 27 at 7:20pm · Like
  • Michael A. FrelsI tried finding Truth and Happiness on Google, but could not find the correct keywords to get the results I was looking for. I didn’t find it in the news, though I read it over at least five times today. I didn’t find it on facebook. After planting potatoes, spinach, and onions in the garden this afternoon, I took a walk.

    February 27 at 8:59pm · Like · 1 person
  • Rebecca MolinarI can assume you’re talking about Ron “The Truth” Killings, the professional wrestler. Not to worry – he’s currently signed with WWE under the handle “R-Truth,” and appears on “Monday Night RAW”

    February 28 at 9:54am · Like
  • Lee Tracytry Al Jazzera – english.

    February 28 at 1:21pm · Like · 2 people
  • David SchwalbeThe truth is:to thine own self be true…The check is in the mail….trust me…

    February 28 at 1:43pm · Like
  • Shellie Schwalbe OlsonOh Gravy, what’s a sister to do… 🙂

    February 28 at 2:39pm · Like
  • Wm StevensGravy is Truth, and Truth, Gravy. Rich, scalding gravy so thick that when you pick up a piece of meat the plate comes with it.

    February 28 at 5:08pm · Like
  • Sarah McNaughtonHere’s my take: John 14:6

    February 28 at 8:21pm · Like · 1 person
  • Paul BouzideIt’s there love, underneath all the horribleness that sometimes obscures it.

    February 28 at 10:24pm · Like
  • Lee Tracy cathi, here is a song. i was listening to it and thought of you.
    http://blip.fm/~12b9zbnight! xxx click on the youtube vid to see a beautiful scenery.

    February 28 at 11:22pm · Like

What is this thing called TRUTH that we are so confident that we know?  I ask you, dear reader to explore what you know as TRUTH and assume nothing.

Such an array of responses… I will end here and try to post more tonite.

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Potable

The art gesture called Potable is taking shape.  Family members with whom I have spoke are excited about the project which I am humbled and excited about.

Participants will include my mother, Helen Schwalbe of Cedarburg, WI 79 yrs.  My brother David’s daughter Sheri Paape and her daughter Addison – 1 year old of Port Washington, Wisconsin.  My other brother Vince’s daughter Cristina and her daughter Lillie 2 yrs. old of Milwaukee.  Possibly my sister Jacquie’s daughter Ruby 9 years old of Chicago, IL.

Pryor Avenue Iron Well Bayview, WI

Here are the specifics:

100 Terra Cotta Cups "Potable"

100 Terra Cotta Cups given to the first 100 in attendance – stamped for the project “Potable.”

4 Generations of Women

Tuesday September 28, 2010

at the Pryor Avenue Iron Well   Milwaukee Wisconsin

(S. Superior and E. Pryor or N 41° 58.218 W 87° 39.582)

Some facts about water and why this well? Why now?

Potable

A gesture and celebration of public water in conjunction with
Tapping into Solutions:  The Future of Water Conference  09 . 27-29 . 2010

  • In just one day, more than 200 million hours of women’s time is consumed for the most basic of human needs — collecting water for domestic use. – water.org
  • At any given time, half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from diseases associated with lack of access to safe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene. -2006 United Nations Human Development Report.
  • “For 127 years, Bay View neighbors, and the occasional visitor, have gathered together, bottles and jugs in hand, at the Pryor Avenue Iron Well for its continuous flow of fresh groundwater. The public well, located in a residential neighborhood just a block away from the lake, is the only one of its kind left in Milwaukee, a lone sentinel standing on Pryor Avenue between South Superior  Street and South Wentworth Avenue.”  Shepherd Express  04.10.2010
  • Milwaukee – 1993  By the numbers  44,000 doctor visits.  4,400 hospitalized.  725,000 lost workor school days.  $96 million lost wages and medical expenses.  $90 million new water purification system.   “It was a real tragedy for the community, bu even more for the individuals affected by it.”  – John O. Norquist, Milwaukee Mayor

And finally, Paul and I visited the well on Saturday nite for the first time.  Here are our own images and a video.  Delightful.

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I was in Oregon, IL (actually housed in Stillman Valley, IL) on my 8th residency with The Fields Project.  A community that celebrates their history of Loredo Taft and his artist colony here in the late 1800’s now celebrates its agriculture and culture connection.

I can thank Anne Lueck Feldhaus for lending her application to me 8 yrs ago for my attempt at the visiting artist experience that has influenced my work in so many ways in as many years.

Ned Bushnell and I after the last soil sample collected.

I was housed with Ned and Lyrah Bushnell at a beautiful family farm, Walnut Creek Farms, in Stillman Valley, IL.  Walnut Creek Farms won the Governor’s Conservation Farm Family of the Year Award in 2004.  Ned grows corn and soybeans with the no till method.  This growing method of farming the commodities has been paying off with healthier soil and life in the field including worms.  It was pure pleasure going into his field and talking soils with him.  His enthusiasm for the process of soil conservation that decreases erosion, keeps unused plant matter in the fields replenishing what the growing has taken, disturbs the top soil less, and is forward thinking in terms of soil health as he works the soil and tilth of his father’s land.

The Oregon Tilth Project, a soil and scent process that I have created,  is why I am here.  I am humbled by the local people I have come to know when they ask “WHAT are you doing this year?”  I seem to have created a sense of curiosity and anticipation for how I might spend my time here and mirror the world that is agriculture in Northern Illinois.

A bit of background:  I read about Laura Parker’s work called “Taste of Place.”  The artist collected soil from area farms, put the soil in a wine glass in a gallery setting, released the aroma with water, and the gallery goers ate produce from that farm and made the connection of soil and food through scent and flavor.  Rarely does my inspiration for art come from other artist’s work.  This is an exception.

Stoneware jars in process.

I have been working on stoneware jars for The Oregon Tilth Project since January.  I collected images relating to farming, tilth, dirt, cultivation methods, and other agricultural images.  I made samples, measurements, shot screens, made prints for the transfer onto clay, all in Tom Lucas’ class Printmaking on Clay.  I spoke with someone from Oregon Tilth at the Family Farmed event this early spring for “permission” to use the name.  A play on names that fits in quite nicely with the theme of the project.  My experiences as a visiting artist with the Fields Project have been varied and wonderful.  Each farm family has been patient, informative, and full of due pride in what they do and are thrilled to share information with the curious.  In no other community could I have pulled off such an event if I had not formed relationships with the host farmers over the years in the environs of Ogle County.

My goal was to get as many decorated jars finished as there were host families and invite them in to the Oregon Tilth Project – A Soil and Scent Gathering or “The Soil Smackdown.”

Farm and Soil collecting videos:

Thanks to Paul Bouzide for still shots and fellow Fields Project Artist Sharron Box for the videos from the competition.  I appreciate you both!

Please note:  This project is supported by a Community Arts Assistance Program grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.”

There were 7 host families along with two other participating farms.  Nine farm families in total.  I spent the week as a visiting artist going to each farm, talking with the farmer about soil, process, crops raised, animals kept, and at times their philosophy and sentiments regarding contemporary agriculture practices.  The statements made were as wonderfully varied as the farmers themselves.  I collected a 3/4 gallon soil sample from the spot of the farmer’s choice, with and/or under the supervision of each farmer.  It was a very wet week so all of the soil samples collected were heavy with rain water.  ATV rides, donuts, event mapping, conservation methods, and so much more were discussed.  I labeled each bag, documented them on each farm with the farmer’s name on an index card, and left the bags open so the soil might breath instead of mold.  By Thursday nite I had collected soil from each farm and was prepared to transfer the soil into the corresponding jars with the help of my husband Paul (while I made myself scarce).

Husband Paul making the samples as consistent as possible.

Potluck Saturday, the traditional day of the gathering of host farmers, artists and sometimes spouses, and other interested and connected individuals who make the Fields Project happen, have a tremendous pot luck dinner.  I asked the farmers to arrive a bit early to join me for the Oregon Tilth Project – aka “The Soil Smackdown. ” The event went much better than I ever dreamed!  Several farmers arrived early (shocking I know) and we ended up having 100% participation.

Some side stories as the competition unfolded:

One farmer took a cup of her soil to her grandson’s little league game to study during the hour or two before the Smackdown.

10 Top Reasons to smell the Dirt was shared by host farmer Joan Pfeiffer.  Her neighbor, Beth Hahn, is a comedienne and offered to create a reprise of “10 top reasons….”  Hilarious!  Here they are on video and in writing:

Wrapped Pfeiffer Centennial Bin - a collaboration with Danny Mansmith 2008

#10  Less expensive than drugs

#9  Good way to block out the manure smell in the air.

#8  Eating the dirt didn’t taste very good.

#7  Once you recognize the smell, you can always find your way home when lost.

#6  All the cool kids are doing it.

#5  The nutrients in the soil are just so additcting.

#4  Sniffing soil is easier than sniffing corn stalks wich tend to get lodged in your nose and draws negative attention to yourself.

#3  After you blow your nose, you can make your own booger-dirt mud-pie

#2 The black residue under your nose is slimming and goes with anything you wear.

And the number one reason to sniff dirt….

Because wrapping a bin takes too long!!!!!

9 farmers waiting for the Soil Smackdown to begin

Other stories….

Gary and Judy Bocker perusing the soils.

During the contest, A farming couple absolutely certain that they guessed their soil… in two different jars, and both were wrong!

Each farmer asked to gently place their hand on the jar that they felt was theirs… with some good natured slapping going on as the competition progressed.

Farmers taking long sniffs, nose first, into the jars as pictured.

A farmer’s wife so incredibly excited that she found her soil that she could not contain herself and then promptly called her husband who was working in the hay field, after she was correct in her soil choice.

And the moment you have all been waiting for….

4 of 9 farmer participants could recognize the scent and texture of their soil. The rest were not pleased.

A big thanks to the following participants:

Gary and Judy Bocker, Polo

Ned and Lyrah Bushnell,  Stillman Valley

Larry and Aneda Ebert,  Ashton

We provided oats as an olfactory cleanser between soils.

Sue Jacobson,  Byron

Joanne Juriga,  Mt. Morris

Ron and Karen Larson,  Mt. Morris

Mike and Joan Pfeiffer,  Ashton

Bob and Sherrie Piros,   Chana

The contest continues....

Barb Samsel,  Oregon

Here are some images and short videos from before and during the event.  I also showed the jars at the Fields Project Art Festival the following day with many people appreciating the project and smelling and feeling the soil themselves to compare.

Successful soil smellers are announced. Congratulations to Joan Pfeiffer (far L) and Lyrah Bushnell (far R) 1 of 4 farmers able to recognize their soil.

All participating farms got a mini for participating.

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