Foodscapes: Art Food Space Activism

  • Sketch from development of the "Food Installation." 
    Sketch from development of the "Food Installation." 
  • Fabrication of the "Food Installation."
    Fabrication of the "Food Installation."
  • Fabrication of the "Food Installation" in the back lot of Milque Toast Bar.
    Fabrication of the "Food Installation" in the back lot of Milque Toast Bar.
  • Students demonstrate the bread beanbag.
    Students demonstrate the bread beanbag.
  • Detail from "Grow Installation" documentation by Nona Davitaia (MLA18).
    Detail from "Grow Installation" documentation by Nona Davitaia (MLA18).
  • Detail from food system mind map. Shuying Wu (MLA18). 
    Detail from food system mind map. Shuying Wu (MLA18). 

Spring 2018 landscape architecture seminar led by lecturer Lynn Peemoeller

In Lynn Peemoeller’s spring seminar, 2018 Foodscapes: Art Food Space Activism, students developed their ability to conceptualize and visualize aspects of the food system in the United States as it relates to the urban landscape and the agency of people through design. The semester wove together reading, eating, observing, and making in response to prompts.

Near the start of the semester, the students traveled to Operation Food Search, a foodbank and distribution center that serves the St. Louis region. They observed the issues of food waste first hand, seeing the quantities of food that arrive at the distribution center from grocery stores and other sources. This “waste” is redistributed to those in need in the St. Louis region, which according to the 2010 census, included 135,000 children.

Recognizing the tremendous waste in the US food system inspired the students’ “food installation,” We Knead Bread. The class worked with approximately 200 pounds of commercial sliced bread, past its usable date, and explored it as a material. If the bread had gone to the landfill as intended, it would have taken 40 years to decompose. They created objects such as bricks, biochar, and a beanbag chair. By disconnecting the material from food, the students explored the complexity of food waste by adding value, meaning, and visibility to the idea of food waste.

In the second half of the semester, the class developed a “grow installation.” This project explored the life cycle and conditions for growing food, the role of design in this process, and how plants can be planned to contribute to the life cycle. Students were challenged to consider the sustainability and continuity of their installations, addressing how the plants would survive following the semester, as well as how the work would be visible to the public. Students partnered with Milque Toast Bar, a local food-focused restaurant located at 2212 S. Jefferson Ave. in the City of St. Louis. Using food as the “agent with which to engage and activate different urban environments,” the installations were located in the outdoor garden space and inside the restaurant. Installations included a grid of mustard seed plants that efficiently uses space and self-propagates, a trellis for the “three sisters”—squash, beans, and corn—and a self-watering, vertical strawberry garden.

One student will continue to work with Milque Toast Bar to further develop the outdoor garden area, with support from CityStudioSTL Student Awards.

Special Thanks

Milque Toast Bar

Operation Food Search