American Farmland Trust Unveils No Farms No Foods Mural At Northampton Office
The mural brings the Farms Under Threat: A New England Perspective report to life.
Northampton, MA- Today, American Farmland Trust (AFT), in partnership with Northampton Arts Council, and Icarus, Wheaten and Finch unveiled a mural highlighting AFT’s work to save the land that sustains us all. The mural, located outside of AFT’s Northampton office, was designed by Michael Crigler, the local artist behind the cover of the Farms Under Threat: A New England Perspective Report. The design pulled heavily from the graphics of the report cover, but Crigler expanded it to feature landmarks of the Northampton community, including City Hall, the Academy of Music, and the Herrick Mill building.
“For over 35 years American Farmland Trust has had an office here in Northampton,” said Nathan L’Etoile, New England Regional Director for American Farmland Trust. “This isn’t accidental – Northampton represents the heart of New England’s food system in so many ways – with an urban center surrounded by some of the world’s most productive farmland, farmland that has been stewarded by farmers and their communities for thousands of years. This mural will ground us as we return to our office post pandemic, reminding us why we do this work, every time we enter. People and the land are at the heart of what we do here at AFT.”
Farms Under Threat: A New England Perspective, published in February 2020, highlights many of the current threats to New England farmland and offers a framework for potential pathways forward. Jamie Pottern, New England Program Manager and co-author of the report with colleague Laura Barley, says “In order to have local farms for the future, it’s imperative that we not only protect farmland, but work to keep our farms viable and keep farmers on the land. Our report takes a holistic look at the many compounding threats to our region’s land, centering issues of land justice, equity, and climate change, to inspire collective action toward a more resilient agricultural system. Michael did an incredible job capturing the sense of hopefulness that we were trying to convey. ” Many of the themes highlighted in the report are featured on the mural, allowing viewers to visualize and engage with the material in a new way.
Michael Crigler added, “I wanted to design something that represented this beautiful valley and highlight the vibrancy and diversity of our thriving small farms and the great work that AFT does. I believe public art projects – like this mural – are extremely important for communities. It adds a vibrancy to the city and like a ripple effect inspires other creative initiatives, bringing new life to neighborhoods and uplifting the community as a whole.”
Jordi Herold, founder of Icarus, Wheaten and Finch was the driving force behind the mural. Herold owns the Herrick Mill building and has long dreamed of bringing the rural landscape of the Pioneer Valley into vibrant downtown Northampton. The mural faces the Herrick Mill building, where AFT has held a regional office since 1986, on the adjacent wall of the Hampshire Educational Collaborative– an organization focused on educational excellence and opportunity for all learners through collaboration and leadership.
“The 1854 Herrick Mill is the oldest standing industrial structure in the city,” said Jordi Herold.
“The adjacent non-windowed wall has cried out for public art for 30 years. The more I thought about it the more it made sense to marry the art to AFT’s long tenure”
The mural was released as part of the third annual Northampton Public Arts Festival, which featured artworks on traffic light utility boxes, cement barriers, and buildings throughout downtown Northampton. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the festival focused on art that could be enjoyed at safe distances and without large crowds. The festival featured original work from 15 artists.
“The Northampton Public Arts Festival is a unique event aimed at promoting public art through mural painting. For the third year in a row the festival brought local and nationally recognized artists to convene and create beautiful public art for the city of Northampton,” said Brian Foote, Executive Director of Northampton Arts Council.
Ramiro Davaro-Comas was the artist in charge of bringing the AFT mural to life. Davaro-Comas, who primarily works with spray paint, took Crigler’s design and projected it onto the wall, allowing him to match the original artwork. It took him a total of 45 hours to complete the mural, which is 19 x 38 feet tall.
The mural is on view now. To find out more about the Northampton Public Arts Festival, and see a map of the current artworks, visit paradisedistrict.org
To read the full Farms Under Threat: A New England Perspective, visit farmlandinfo.org/publications/farms-under-threat-a-new-england-perspective/