How can art reconnect
us to the land?
Can the land and art help us re-engage with each other?
How do we determine
Greenbelt Hospitality blends a two-acre organic farm with two different restaurant concepts and an education and events curriculum, in an urban Phoenix setting, that provides a "deeper, more meaningful connection to the seasons and our vital food supply."
Urban Plough Furniture
Urban Plough Furniture is a collaboration of designers and artisans who use responsible design to create evocative and inspiring residential and commercial spaces, with an ethos that millwork and furniture "must emphasize the sense of place inherent to each unique project."
Moore is a fourth-generation farmer. He's also an artist, though he was not by his own estimation "artistic" in his youth.
Artists and farmers have a lot in common. They're both problem solvers. A handbook can't remove the unknowns that come with a farm. Art and farming require reckless abandon. Every year a farmer rolls a handful of seeds like a pair of dice and says, "Yeah, this is the year."
An artist wonders, "Will my voice be accepted by somebody?" There's fear, trust, and maybe a bit of punk rock, at least in small-lot counter-culture organic farming.
Moore has spent his career at the intersection of rural life and urban sprawl, even using the consumption of his family home by developers as a muse. Rotations is a series of three aerial photographs that capture the evolution of rural land into urban development. It includes Single Family Residence, a giant earthwork detailing the floor plan of a typical family residence, using a 20-acre field as a canvas, and casting light on the fate of a farmer tasked with clearing his own land for someone else's future development.
The Lifecycles series of time-lapse films capture the full cycle of growing produce from seed. Grocery Stores, Moore says, are "the theater of land use." They create a sense of plenty and separate us from where food comes from. We build communities in much the same way – oblivious to the bigger picture, disengaged.
Moore wants us to feel more wonderment, to know more beauty, and to ask questions about the future of land use.
He believes everyone can gather around beauty and awe. Placemaking projects like Greenbelt Hospitality help future generations experience something important inside of agriculture, well-being, and community. It is art in the form of enduring development, rather than a temporary exhibition that goes away without imparting a lasting message.
The development of social concepts takes time, Moore says, and this is where his relationship with Upstart Co-Lab is indispensible. Aligned capital is patient capital, and Upstart provides a platform to discuss social issues as well as a network that can provide financial stewardship without commandeering the mission of a project.
Convincing people of the benefit of placemaking or art installations can be difficult. Moore explains, "If I went to a city parks department and said, 'Hey, we want to create a development on one of your parks!' They'd probably laugh."
What he must offer, then, is an amenity, albeit a non-traditional one, for the future good of the community.
Letting people experience the cycle of what lives and dies helps them understand more about broader issues like climate change and how we can create something better for our children. We can reconnect people not only to "this is how your food is grown," but how "this is your world."
Moore doesn't claim the moral high ground in the battle over whether we should all eat organic or conventionally grown food. "We're not nearly sophisticated enough to have the conversation," he says, "especially if we don't take the time to understand the processes involved." He doesn't want to see "yet another documentary about how screwed we are." Instead, he would like us to find hope because more discourse will happen within the realm of the possible than through terror or even straight science.
Moore's objective is also not a repudiation of urban development, or to suggest that all land must be reserved to grow food. Farmers set the stage for urban growth, and they know better than anyone about striving for yield.
"Who am I to walk up to someone coming out of their surburban home and say, 'This house is the reason our world is f***** up'?" He'd prefer we ask questions about the value of land and explore how farming can be better integrated into overall growth.
As for the farm property where he and his brother grew up? It now houses 253 families, and he is at peace with that.
We're all just trying to figure life out, to do the best we can to make our families, and our communities, healthy and prosperous. So Matt Moore continues, through the creation of beautiful places, to say, "I recognize you, and I see you. Let's unify ourselves. We don't have to know all the answers."
"Who am I to walk up to someone coming out of their surburban home and say, 'This house is the reason our world is f***** up?' "