What a fantastic time we had at Gouge Elementary in Bakersville, NC. The sun was shining, the air was warm and we had 120 Germination Corps. members making up the biggest Plant Parade to date! We made our way with flags, vegetable puppets, headbands, costumes, music float, bean tambourines, songs and 120 plant backpacks to the 4-H garden to plant the baby plants in the ground. This was the longest and most colorful walking garden this town has ever seen! Thanks to all involved!
More pictures as I receive them…I was running up and down the parade line, so all my action shots are just that, in action!
Green Plum Collaboratory in Spruce Pine, NC has been a hotbed of activity during my residency here. Not only do I have a show there, but it has been my studio for Germination Corps. and a Plant Backpack making hub for the last two and a half weeks. Here are some pics of the the progress and people that have come in to help cut patterns and cut up bottles for the bags and made giant vegetables. Thanks everyone for helping to make the upper street in the town of Spruce Pine so colorful.
Here are two wonderful volunteers of Dig In! Yancy Community Garden who came to Germination Corps. to help sew- Deborah and Pat. These ladies got some patterns going! Thanks you two!
Lisa Blackburn, a founder of the project Empty Bowls and a very great printer and book maker, cuts up some salvaged bottles to plant plants in for the kids backpacks.
Here are some other great Gallery Shots. Deb and Pat try on my Paper Helmets: Helmets for Telling Secrets. Part of the show this month at Green Plum Collaboratory.
And then we pose for a photo to show the kid’s sized Plant Backpack I made using fabric donated from Glen Raven Technical Fabrics and pattern pieces cut by these wonderful ladies.
Thanks to all the community members in Yancy and Mitchell counties that are helping and have helped with Germination Corps. — more photos to come!
Update from our Germination Corps. correspondent Mark Boyd, on this past weekend in North Carolina:
We built some stuff (plant backpacks & giant vegetable puppets), hauled over to the Yancey County library, built a little more stuff (plant backpacks & shoulder bags) and did a little teaching and informing on the the fly (food security and accessibility, how and why to grow your own, where to distribute the extra to share, recycling and reuse, community gardening), THEN hauled on over to Dig In Yancey! for our first garden event. The weather graced us with a break in the rains so we could take a few pictures and march around the garden
This coming week Germination Corps spreads like kudzu into the schools to work with 120 elementary school kids! Each child will receive a plant shoulder bag generously fabricated and donated by Quality Plus Apparel (many thanks!) based on Jessica’s original design. (Only in a small tight knit community would a local manufacturer step up and provide such a generous donation. This is the power of neighbors helping neighbors!) We’ll then have a short teach-in about plant propagation, community gardens, and food security and sustainability. After that we’ll transplant seedlings (started with the assistance of the local ag extension service, more neighbors!) into the bags, then have a parade along the creekwalk to the site of the new 4H community garden. At the garden, we’ll transplant seedlings event. Here’s hoping for a sunny day!
And stay tuned, next Thursday we’re doing a big wrap up event at Dig In Yancey! during the afternoon. Details coming here soon.
We have been making plant backpacks out of every type of material here at the North Carolina residency, including used belts and old backpacks that get ripped up and recycled into the plant backpack pattern. A great deal of the fabric for this project in Yancy and Mitchell counties was donated by Glen Raven Technical Fabrics in Burnsville. They make things like Sunbrella and super fabrics for Jansport and the US forces. If you have any old backpacks or suitcases or belts that you would like to donate, bring them by the Green Plum gallery this week from 1-5 p.m. We can make them into a Germination Corps. Plant Backpack!
Here is the pattern table in the gallery workshop. You can see all the woven belts we found and are using for shoulder straps on the right. Old shopping bags work well for the pattern pieces.
Some kids-sized shoulder plant bags made with the Glen Raven donated fabric. The emblem of the Germination Corps., the three leafed sprout, is a necessary component of each bag and is a quick identifier of the project.
Head on down to the Green Plum Collaboratory on Upper Street in Spruce Pine, NC and join in the fun making some of these guys:
We have workstations set up, and everything you need right at hand, including encouragement and guidance! I am there the whole time and will gladly discuss the project and get you on your way to planting and walking and nurturing. Everyone with a bag will be invited to participate in the field day at the Dig In! garden on the 11th.
Hours this week of May 6-10 are 1-5 p.m. so come on by and see what Germination Corps. is all about! There are short activities if you have 5 minutes, to longer full bag making activities. We want to get as many people involved, adults and children, so tell your friends.
Germination Corps. has partnered up with the elementary school in Bakersville, North Carolina. I am doing a workshop there for the 2nd and 3rd graders. The school wanted to have a backpack for each student to have to participate in the plant parade and Germination Corps. events. They have been germinating seeds this spring and we will transfer them to the plant backpacks as soon as they are ready.
Bakersville is also the home to a great manufacturing operation called Quality Plus Apparel that has been making things like limited edition Levi’s jeans and other Made in America heavy weight apparel runs. They have all the equipment and know how to take my designs and make a ton of plant backpacks for the elementary school project. Here are some photos of Lisa, of The Catalyst Collective, and me and the owners of Quality Plus making the test bags in their facility.
We took my patterns and some generously donated fabric from Glen Raven Technical Fabrics in Burnsville, NC to the folks at Quality Plus. The next day we walked in and they had three prototypes made from the pattern I had given them. We asked how fast they could make the bags and they said a week! They also said they would donate all the bags to the elemetery school for the project. WOW! That’s 120 plant backpacks! Thank You Quality Plus! That’s amazing.
These are the pattern flats
They even had a binding in a color combo that I would have used for my own work. Great minds think alike!
Placing a pocket on and basting. You can see they are set up for jean hemming and binding above.
Sewing the gusset on the bag. Quality Plus is sewing a shoulder bag pattern since we only have a week to get the 120 bags to the school. They would have loved to make the actual backpack, but my pattern was too complicated in the time frame we had. Still, this is very generous and nice of them to give back to the community they are imbedded in. I am so glad they are still making a go of it, although we talked a lot about the loss of manufacturing from cheaper overseas labor. A lot of the business that Quality Plus gets now is the job of fixing the products that come back from overseas markets to bring them up to standards for the US market. They still are the primary manufacturer of Levi’s brand jeans and produced the special edition pairs where Levi’s reproduced the first pair of Levi’s ever, that they found in a mine in California. Quality Plus made 501 pairs and they were sold for 501 dollars each.
Plant Backpacks Coming this May to Yancy County, North Carolina and the Penland area!
Germination Corps. is an engagement art project I conceived of and started at a residency in Philadelphia at The Philadelphia Art Hotel, in the summer of 2010. It takes the idea of our nomadic existence and examines humans’ relationship with caring for the plants we eat and live with. I developed Plant Backpacks to solve problems of the urban neighborhood of Kensington, Philadelphia, an area with much brown space.
Plant Backpacks in Philly
Plants are planted in backpacks and then paraded through town, creating a mobile garden, that connects different green spaces like urban community farms in the area.
It teaches kids and adults to care for a plant much like caring for an egg or a sack of flour as if it were a baby in home-ec class. This mobile garden will grow this summer as I make plant backpacks with the community of rural North Carolina. Stay tuned to see how this project adapts itself to a rural and close-knit environment.