So Greenspace is an art project, a social sculpture, a gallery and studio. It’s an organic shop, a workshop space, a place for my community to gather and explore the connections between all layers of nourishment. As a contemporary artist, my training requires me to develop an understanding of the thought processes behind what I do, the ethics and the theories that have come through time and place into the way I operate in my practice, and in my day.
For the community, the primary function of Greenspace is as an organic shop. I need this aspect to function well and pay the bills, and I am using the classic retail model for this as a well-tested format in our current social model. My role as shopkeeper is clear. I need to stock the shelves with what is in alignment with my values and with those who shop here.
On top of this, I want build layers of regenerative culture, ways to empower our community to make excellent choices in relation to the basics of everyday life – food, homeware, bodycare. The politics of the everyday has been a longtime commitment for me, and this includes the spirit of everyday – our connections with nature, self and other people – deep ecology, whakawhanaungatanga across all beings and ways of being.
I want to create a place for people who care about this stuff to gather the things they need, to chat, to meet old friends and new – to build human interaction deeply into the values of the shop. As I collaborate with people this will naturally evolve. One friend has established a reading library, another is designing a garden where we will be able to pick fresh greens. I want to move past overprocessed foods, and create a community resource where we have access to a grain mill to create fresh flours, where we grow microgreens, and chop cabbage together at harvest time.
For me, choosing organics has gone beyond personal health, better flavour and texture, and into the bigger picture of how we farm, how we steward the land for our children, how we value our food and the people who grow it for us. A major aspect of this is how much we are prepared to pay so that our farmers no longer feel they have to use heavy chemical inputs in order to make a living. As a global society I think we need to make this choice collectively and fast. This might mean as individuals we are making personal choices that direct our income away from the supermarket and the jetaway break, those panaceas of the fast life, and towards a true improvement in everyday living for ourselves and those who nourish us.
From Michael Pollan’s book In Defense of Food:
“Eating is an agricultural act,” Wendell Berry famously wrote, by which he meant we are not just passive consumers of food but cocreators of the systems that feed us. Depending on how we spend them, our food dollars can either go to support a food industry devoted to quantity and convenience and “value” or they can nourish a food chain organised around values – values like quality and health. Yes, shopping this way takes more money and effort, but as soon as you begin to treat that expenditure not just as shopping but also as a kind of vote – a vote for health in the largest sense – food no longer seems like the smartest place to economise.