October 2017

Biology, metaphor, ancient texts, and common sense converge in the decision to allow the much beloved Farm Art DTour to take a break on this the 7th year of Fermentation Fest and return in 2018. 

Sabbatical, from the Hebrew shmita, dictates that on the 7th year “the land is left to lie fallow and all agricultural activity, including plowing, planting, pruning and harvesting, is forbidden by Jewish law. Additionally, any fruits which grow of their own accord are deemed hefker (ownerless) and may be picked by anyone.”

I wish we could say we planned it this way—to align with a time-honored numerical cycle that is credited with everything from marital wandering (the 7-year itch) to soil fertility to just the right number of dwarves. This venerable tradition has mutated to an every-seventh-year rejuvenation for college professors who, like the land – require an interval to recharge. Resources both microbial and cerebral need a period of rest and renewal!

And so it is written.

In this spirit of divine inspiration, we are called to let the land rest and see what might grow of its own accord, while we consider the abundance of what has happened over the past six years. The DTour that looped annually through fifty miles of rural Sauk County has been an immense and joyous undertaking with many moving parts that a small staff, dedicated volunteers, and countless community members work to grow and improve every year. We have been thrilled, humbled, and frankly surprised at its growth, its impact, and the warm embrace the community has given it. There’s a powerful temptation to continue to let it grow at its current pace, but it makes more sense for us to step back and reflect. We want to figure how to manage better our precious resources, and to integrate our efforts with Sauk County’s strong emphasis on placemaking, to have even greater and more lasting impact.

In horticulture a biennial plant grows strong roots the first year and bears fruit the second.  Our biennial will allow more time to be better stewards of both the land and the ambitious programs that are inspired and supported by it. 

Wormfarm is committed to the discovery and rediscovery of the beauty and bounty that exists in our corner of the driftless region and the critical role artists play. We invite rural residents and our urban neighbors to grow roots with us this year and share the fruit in 2018.  Better yet: We’ll take another hint from the ancient text and turn the fruit into wine