THE GROWING RIGHT ORAL HISTORY PROJECT: WHAT IS IT?

Ed Snavely, of Curly Tail Organic Farm — Knox County, Ohio. June 2016.

‘Growing Right’: The Rise of Ohio’s Ecological Food and Farm Movement, 1970s-Now is a dynamic public environmental humanities project aiming to spur informed public conversation about the history, present and futures of ecological agriculture in Ohio through the lens of oral history interviews and folkloristic fieldwork with a diverse range of players in the movement’s inception. But, this isn’t just for the archive. We’re presenting this work through oral history, photography and media arts installations at pop-up “installations” at farmers’ markets and grocery stores!

Since Summer 2016, we’ve traveled around the state interviewing ecological farmers, backyard growers, teachers, co-ops movement activists, greengrocers, everyday eaters and more, to hear the stories of Ohio’s grassroots ecological food and farm movement. We asked: what brought you to this work? What inspired you? How did this movement get started? What challenges — and opportunities — lie ahead, in these increasingly uncertain ecological times? We captured hours’ long oral history interviews with these movement leaders; and also lots and lots of fieldwork photography, walking interviews, and even field sound recording!

Thanks to funding from Ohio Humanities, we’re uploading our interviews and ongoing fieldwork into long-form oral history videos available here (and on YouTube); and are producing them into multi-media short pieces.

In Summer 2017, we’ll be hosting pop-up listening booths/multi-media exhibits and installations at farmers’ markets and grocery stores throughout Central Ohio, to bring these stories directly to you.

We’ll also be on the road again in Summer 2017, continuing our interviews with the people who forged and nurtured this movement from seed, by hand.

By translating oral histories to a wide public audience through various public humanities products & programs — a digital humanities interactive website (welcome!), a portfolio of audio/multi-media documentary shorts (see menu), narrative stages, “pop-up” listening booths (coming soon!), and an multi-media listening installation — the project aims to historicize our contemporary turn to ‘local foods’ through dynamic conversation around the people, places, issues and grassroots networks that helped shape our current food and farm system in Ohio, and to spur wide-ranging public conversation about the interconnectedness of food, health and environment.

Growing Right is a project of the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association.

This work is made possible, in part, by Ohio Humanities — a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this project do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Ongoing documentary fieldwork, media arts projects and Columbus-area pop-ups also made possible, in part, by the Greater Columbus Arts Council and the City of Columbus. 

ABOUT

‘Growing Right’: The Rise of Ohio’s Ecological Food and Farm Movement, 1970s-Now’  is a dynamic multi-platform public environmental arts and humanities project aiming to spur informed public conversation about the history, present and futures of ecological agriculture in Ohio through the lens of experimental and documentary multi-media production from fieldwork, oral history interviews and photography with a diverse range of players in the movement’s inception.

By translating audio field recordings, site-based portrait and place photography, and oral history and field interviews to a wide public audience through both digital, transmission and analog/pop-up media formats  — a digital humanities interactive website, a portfolio of audio/multi-media documentary shorts — including some to be placed with community radio stations, a longer-term multi-media listening installation, and an ambitious mobile “pop-up” multi-media and sound installation, that will use the model of a farmers’ market booth to travel to farmers’ markets and public venues across Columbus in Summer 2017 — the project aims to historicize our contemporary turn to ‘local foods’ through dynamic conversation around the people, places, issues and grassroots networks that helped shape our current food and farm system in Ohio, and to spur wide-ranging public conversation about Ohio’s interconnected food, health and farm futures.

We also hope the project will model a new sort of “public environmental arts and humanities” practice — whereby principles and best practices from humanities documentation and multi-media and installation arts can come together to provide a powerful, dynamic experience.

All too often, out of a lack of collaboration with media arts and exhibition professionals, the “endpoint” for oral history/audio recording & fieldwork is the archive. Inspired by the urgency of our environmental moment, Growing Right hopes to use multi-media and pop-up/mobile sound & media installation to change that!