DAMASCUS—A new multi-disciplinary, agrarian-minded community group is forming at the Willow Wisp Organic Farm.
Known as the Farm Arts Collective, the group seeks to coalesce the concepts of farming, art, food and ecology into an educational and performance for the community.
“It's to find a multi-disciplinary way to express who we are as a culture, as people who live here,” said Tannis Kowalchuk, founder and Artistic Director of the Farm Arts Collective and owner-farmer of Willow Wisp Organic Farm.
With the aim to express ecological and farming concepts to the greater community through performance art, the Farm Arts Collective plans to assemble a troupe to both devise original shows to achieve this goal.
Already 15-members strong, Kowalchuk explained the ensemble is comprised such that each individual can share his or her talents, albeit musical, theatric, etc., to grow the group as a whole.
The ensemble plans to meet for workshops every Thursday night at the Narrowsburg Union from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. “to focus on acting, singing, stilt walking, music, and drumming, as well as production and design elements such as costume, props, puppets, set, and technical audio and visual contributions,” states a press release.
“The Narrowsburg Union has given us our winter home,” said Kowalchuk, noting the organization is “...being awesome and generous and incredibly community minded.”
The troupe is building towards a summer production titled “Shakespeare on the Farm,” scheduled for August on Willow Wisp Farm.
Kowalchuk mentioned the ensemble is also planning to present a show on the interconnectivity of trees as a metaphor for human community to the Lenape people as part of the tribe's mid-winter warm up celebrations.
Consisting of teachers, farmers, builders and other working professionals, practices and events are designed to function around those with jobs, said Kowalchuk, encouraging anyone 13 years of age or older who might be interested in joining to come out to a practice and do so.
Those interested can email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and to state one's interested in joining or helping out.
Performance aside, the Farm Arts Collective also plans monthly “Farm Days” which “...will focus on skill sharing, engaging professional farmers, homesteaders, gardeners, and beginners in the ethics and methodology of organic farming,” states a release.
The collective also plans to workshop seasonal cooking practices and highlight food education as part of its experience.
Focusing heavily on sustainable practices, the Farm Arts Collective also aims to inform the community on ecological practices.
“Whether it be seed saving, or renewable energy sources, or trout fishing on the Delaware, the relationships between plants, animals, people and their environment will be explored,” states a release.
“It's a really neat synthesis and I'm interested to see how it all turns out,” said Kowalchuk.
Helping to bring all this information together, the Farm Arts Collective leadership aggregates a varied group of individuals with diverse skills to share among the members, said Kowalchuk.
“I feel we've created a really interesting group of artistic and farming leaders,” said the artistic director.
In addition to Kowalchuk, the collective's leadership includes President/consultant Sue Currier, Christine Ahern, Executive Director of the Lackawaxen Food Hub, Heather Jacksy of the Sullivan County Planning Department, Adrianne Picciano, owner of Dirt Diva, and Melissa Sandor, a writer and development consultant.
Farm Arts Collective's Program Committee consists of performer Jess Beveridge and Laura Moran of the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts.
The knowledge it can provide, the Farm Arts Collective seeks community partnerships “to offer an integrated and comprehensive set of programming options,” states a release.
Those interested in doing so or learning more about the Farm Arts Collective can email email@example.com or visit their website: www.farmartscollective.org.
—Information from a release was used in this story.