About Soil Kitchen
Soil Kitchen is a temporary, windmill-powered architectural intervention and multi-use space where citizens can enjoy free soup in exchange for soil samples from their neighborhood. Placed across the street from the Don Quixote monument at 2nd Street and Girard Avenue in North Philadelphia, Soil Kitchen’s windmill pays homage to the famous windmill scene in Cervantes', Don Quixote. Rather than being “adversarial giants” as they were in the novel, the windmill here will be a functioning symbol of self-reliance. The windmill also serves as a sculptural invitation to imagine a potential green energy future and to participate in the material exchange of soil for soup - literally taking matters into one’s own hands. This exchange provides an entry point for further dialogue and action available in the space through workshops, events and informal exchange. Soil Kitchen provides sustenance, re-established value of natural resources through a trade economy, and tools to inform and respond to possible contaminants in the soil.
Soil Kitchen will coincide with the E.P.A.’s National Brownfields Conference. Soil Kitchen gathers soil and creates a Philadelphia Brownfields Map and Soil Archive. In addition to serving soup and testing soil, the building will be a hub for exchange and learning; free workshops including wind turbine construction, urban agriculture, soil remediation, composting, lectures by soil scientists and cooking lessons.
Soil Kitchen has been commissioned by Philadelphia's Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy, and is executed by the artist group Futurefarmers using a generous grant from the William Penn Foundation.
Futurefarmers is collaborating with aligned community organizations to realize the project. A mix of local concerned citizens, artists, designers, scientists, developers and policy makers will come together to exchange ideas and resources.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s mobile soil testing lab will be on site at Soil Kitchen. The EPA’s field-portable x-ray fluorescence (XRF) instrument will be used to test soil for inorganic metals. Tests will also analyze soil nutrients.
As individuals we often find difficulty in the ability to initiate change within the complex systems that govern our lives, yet, in the 17th century, on the verge of the industrial revolution, Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes described a character who took a stand against seemingly invisible giants. His name was Don Quixote de la Mancha.
Today, after centuries of industry wear upon the earth, natural resources and the places we live, we have trouble pinpointing exactly the cause, let alone developing a solution. As the city of Philadelphia strives to become the greenest city by 2015, Futurefarmers looks to the imaginative power of Don Quixote for inspiration for the creation of Soil Kitchen.
Futurefarmers is a group of artists, designers and architects that assemble in specific constellations to create work that responds to the time and place around them. A constant in their work is an apprehension of the market and its affects on the material and social environment. They have deconstructed food systems, public transportation and rural farming networks as a means to visualize and understand them. Often times through this disassembly they find new narratives and potential reconfigurations that propose alternatives to the logic that once dominated these systems. Their work often provides a playful entry point and tools for an audience to gain insight into a deeper field of inquiry – not only to imagine, but to participate in and initiate change in the places we live.
Futurefarmers was founded in 1995 as a design studio that serves as a platform to support art projects, an artist in residency program and research interests. Their work has been included in exhibitions internationally including Canadian Center for Architecture, Guggenheim Museum, Whitney Museum, and the New York Museum of Modern Art.
For the occasion of Soil Kitchen, artists Dan Allende, Ian Cox, Amy Franceschini and architect Lode Vranken have come together to create this new, temporary, public art project in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia's Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy
The mission of the City's Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy is to support and promote the arts, culture and creative industries; to develop partnerships and coordinate efforts that weave arts, culture and creativity into the economic and social fabric of the city.
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