Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Magical (and Real) Tree of 40 Fruit

A Tree of 40 Fruit
Can one tree be an artwork, research project, and form of conservation? If the tree is “sculpted” by award-winning artist Sam Van Aken, the answer is “Yes!” Scheduled to be demolished, the artist stepped in to preserve the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station’s stone fruit orchard. With its 250 varieties, the orchard was a living museum of the 150-200 year history of stone fruit agriculture in the U.S. He believed creating a living form of art – the Tree of 40 Fruit – was the best way to preserve the orchard’s diversity. From the rootstock stage and over the course of five years, forty varieties of stone fruit—peaches, nectarines, apricots, cherries, plums and almonds—are chip grafted onto a tree. In spring, the normal looking fruit tree turns into a magical tapestry of pink, crimson, white and magenta. It returns to a normal-looking tree until it starts to bear 40 different fruit.

Why did Sam Van Aken create the Tree of 40 Fruit? He believes:

•    As artwork, the tree interrupts and transforms the everyday. Van Aken designs and sculpts a tree by how it blossoms.
•    As a research project, his stone fruit collection and a Tree of 40 Fruit creates a comprehensive timeline of when varieties blossom in relation with each other, important information for the study of pollinators.
•    As a conservation project, he grafts heirloom, antique and native species on each Tree of 40 Fruit and places them throughout country, creating his own type of diversity and preservation.

One person can make a difference.

Van Aken spoke at TEDx-Manhattan. Listen in here. Read an Epicurious interview with the artist here.

1 comment:

  1. what the deal with the photo shopped picture?