Sustainment Experiments: The PLOT 1

2021

The PLOT 1 at VISUAL Carlow is part of O’Mahony’s The PLOT 1. It starts with the potato, specifically the potato ridge. It’s a way of looking back to a technology born out of the need for food security in Ireland’s past, and forward to future food security, biodiversity and resilience in the face of climate change. The potato ridge is a very effective way of breaking ground for planting food. The ridges’ design at VISUAL is based on the I Ching, the ‘Book of Changes’, an ancient Chinese divination system. Asked ‘what is the future of sustainable food production in Ireland’ the I-Ching produced a hexagram – reproduced in potato ridges by the Loy Association of Ireland on VISUAL’s lawn, and the following reading:

Modesty creates success. Balance and adjust things by cutting through pride and complication. Reduce what is overdeveloped. Don’t try to advance yourself. Beware of conceit and arrogance. Be consistent and resilient. Don’t follow policy. Do the right thing.

The potato crop was harvested by the Loy Association in August and planted with Sainfoin a crop that points a way to a possible future. This animal fodder was the subject of O’Mahony’s film Speculative Optimism. Once used widely in Europe and fell out of use with the industrialisation of agriculture. It grows in drought conditions, fixes nitrogen in the soil, reduces methane emissions in cattle, increases the uptake of protein in animals, and is an anti-parasitic of particular benefit for sheep who are all-but immune to most wormers. Moreover, Sainfoin is loved by bees, cultivated in France specifically because of the highly prized honey from the flowers. Sainfoin will produce for five years or more without re-planting or disturbing the fragile soil ecology and will be planted in the potato plot’s footprint in 2022.

The Loy Association of Ireland continue to maintain and teach the skills of using a Loy. The Plot 1 provided an opportunity to document a short film guide to making potato ridges and their efficiency in converting grass to vegetable beds.

Collaboration with The Loy Association of Ireland

Location: VISUAL Carlow, Ireland

Duration April – August 2021 Sainfoin Experiments: 2021 – 2023

The PLOT download