Tuesday, 14 May 2013

a field study in the polytunnel of love supreme

Polytunnel - evening of 12th May 2013

Field Study's Man in E17 was intoxicated by the music to his eyes of the evening sun playing on the improvised polyphony of strings and wires traversing the space of the place that is our polytunnel. What sort of jazz could it have been that resonated via a medley of knots come notes tying together the supporting lines, the staves in our vaulted plastic fantasia? Jute in glissando, baler twine's crescendo, flex diminuendo - all orchestrated in a way out, way in synaesthetic chorus of dusky silhouettes and shadows in harmony with the bow line clefs of the wind and rain intertwined with cow hitch quavers of birdsong.

The field student wanted to read while he waited for the rain to stop before heading off home however he was easily distracted or absorbed by the noise in his eyes and so set about recording the scene with his 'snappographic' state of the artlessness gizmo.

Cherokee Trail of Tears - Phaseolus vulgaris
11th May 2013

He soon found himself standing at the base of a beanstalk, a 'trail of tears' beanstalk. He asked himself where the 'trail of tears' had come from and where they might lead and so began ascending the stalk towards the mysterious thrumbling edge of the polythene firmament. As he climbed, the field student recalled a story of the heritage of the bean told via Organiclea's Growing Site - By Any Beans Necessary - in 2010. For nearly 200 years the beans have been grown, saved and, in the mind's eye of that blog's eminent author, shared as 'living sculptures'. The beans could be understood as a collective memorial to the people who perished on the dismal winter trek, as well as to those who survived and cultivated a spirit of hope and determination. Those historic beans and all their descendants may embody that spirit.

Some more of the history of the Trail of Tears can be found here 

The field student contemplated another episode in the history of the beans, closer to home in E17. This involves the purloining, by the field student, of some 'Cherokee Trail of Tears' beans at a seed swap in March 2013. The confession is here. The field student thought he might redeem himself by cultivating the beans and saving and sharing some of them. Saving seeds/beans and beans involves some very complex historical and contemporary issues, debates and, for the field student, a recent dilemma. The dilemma involves the machinations of the European Commission in the regulation of plant material. Organiclea's, 'Local Food News' of 1st May alerted him to the possibility 'Heritage Seeds' might be banned - that if an updated draft of the 'Regulation on Marketing of Plant Reproductive Material' (PRM) were passed, it would

'become illegal to buy, swap, or even grow any seed variety which is not actively registered on a list of approved plants, and for which an annual fee isn't paid to keep it there.'

The 'Cherokee Trail of Tears' are in heritage seed libraries e.g. here but what would the PRM make of the field student growing the beans and saving some of their progeny to swap and share? Would the labyrinthine EU bureaucracy make it so difficult to find some clarity about the technicalities and legalities of saving seeds that a whole dimension of culture not based on corporate imperatives would be denied and possibly eradicated? Field Study's Man in E17 was activated, in parts by the remembrance of 'living sculptures', the newsletter and guilt. He emailed the UK Commissioner in Brussels to ask her to vote 'NO' to the updated PRM on May 6th. He also signed a petition via:


As Field Study's Man in E17 neared the top of the beanstalk and transferred to a wire, the syncopated drumming of the raindrops on the polythene ceiling reminded him of his indignant tapping or thumping of the laptop keys as he typed out his appeals. The field students inflated sense of his own heroism and importance was to be his undoing for although he was Field Study's Man on a Wire, with or without a balancing bean pole he was no Philippe Petit, and he could only sustain a brief moment of balance upon one of the many tightropes criss-crossing the place that is the space. 

As he fell there was time for him to re-imagine himself as a bean. There was, in fiction, even time for him to indulge in some choice as to the variety of the bean he might be. The soil in the beds of the polytunnel have been so lovingly worked, cultivated, nurtured that even a lightweight bean, as is Field Study's Man in E17, was able to land and plant itself into the soft soil to the required depth. Oh, and quite by accident, the field student had planted himself beneath a whole in the firmament so that some of that rain was able to trickle through and water him.  The question is whether or not Field Study's Man in E17 is worth saving and why? 

News of the result of the debate/vote on PRM can be viewed via Garden Organic - here

No comments:

Post a Comment