Willow Brook Farm & Art Center

By / Photography By Jennifer Bakos | July 17, 2017
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Intersecting Art, Agriculture, & Activism

Tim Gaudreau is a Portsmouth-based artist whose award-winning work serves as an emotionally provocative intermediary between audience and science. Now, his biggest question-inducing installation is Willow Brook Farm & Art Center—76 acres in Barnstead, New Hampshire where farm fellows can live and work next to art fellows. In its second of a seven year self-sustainability plan, the nonprofit’s mission is to reinvigorate New Hampshire’s shortage of young farmers and to use ‘articulture’ to inspire people’s awareness of their power to impact the environment.

“Art and agriculture,” 48-year-old Tim explains, “can forge a path back to our experience of nature and to solutions for both social and environmental problems. Using ‘articulture’ is a fun way to play with language to tell ourselves that our creative, agricultural, and cultural advancements can and need to intermingle if we want to have sustained discussion and manifested action through this century.”

So how did Tim meld art with agriculture? Or did agricultural affinity become art? He remembers planting his own garden as a boy and once telling a friend he wanted to be a farmer. He also remembers avidly reading newspaper science sections, developing a strong ethic against for-profit environmental degradation and its impact on people without power. Come college, he discovered a desire to both pursue photography and to support environmental and social justice awareness through what he called Eco Art: “My art was criticizing, demanding that we reconsider our place in the world as part of it, not in control of it.”

By the early 2000s, following the artist’s responsibility he felt to reconsider his own place in the world, Tim planted a Portsmouth home garden successful enough to provide a neighborhood CSA five years running. His agrarian calling expanded in 2013 when he and his wife Atlanta founded Third Stone Farm on 24 Barnstead acres. By 2014, inspired to protect open space and local agriculture, they bought the farmhouse and acreage for sale across the street. Two years and much TLC later, it became Willow Brook Farm—home to farm fellows.

Willow Brook’s farming fellowship offers new farmers two years to thoughtfully explore carbon-capturing farming techniques while saving capital for when they leave. Willow Brook’s first fellows, Taylor McGuiness and Austin Coad (a.k.a. Back to Eden Gardens), are in their second year raising goats and ducks and will also harvest heirloom garlic and tomatoes, crops that will eventually include berries and hardy kiwi, the latter of which has interested local wineries.

These cash crops are one part of Willow Brook’s four-tier funding model that includes crowdsourcing, private donors, and eventually foundation support, all of which is moving toward and actively soliciting support for the core of the next phase of development—the Art Center. Here artist fellows will be able to create culturally instigating art that questions why we do things the way we do, while farm fellows produce small-scale organic and permaculture crops to promote and model sustainable food production and environmental healing.

With Art Center in place, the nonprofit will be able to host a total of eight farm and artist fellows at a time, which is an important long-term projection for Tim, who aims to build an organization that doesn’t need him. This goal makes Willow Brook perhaps not only his largest work but also his most personal, one that is creating a legacy of activism—the artists connecting us to the environment by questioning our relationship to it, the farmers by rendering our relationship to it.

> Visit www.willowbrookfarmnh.org to support the cause, and then keep your articultured eyes peeled for Willow Brook’s TBA late summer heirloom tomato tasting event!

Article from Edible New Hampshire at http://ediblenewhampshire.ediblecommunities.com/things-do/willow-brook-farm-art-center
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