Kitchen culture meets agriculture with Touchstone Collaborations

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LIVING CULTURES Residency: Kitchen Culture Meets Agriculture is a pioneering artist research residency between Miche and Flora of Touchstone collaborations and the Sustainability Institute, Lynedoch. It builds on Wendell Berry’s ‘eating is an agricultural act’– the understanding that every time we eat something, we are connecting to people and places that grow the food. Our research residency celebrates the potential for us all to become food citizens, participating in growing, sharing and recycling food that supports our health and the health of the planet.

Miche Fabre Lewin and Flora Gathorne-Hardyii are co-founders of the arts-ecology research practice Touchstone collaborations, and they are Artists in Residence at the Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience (CAWR) at Coventry University in the UK. Here, Miche’s doctoral research with contemporary food rituals explores what we can all do, every day and every mouthful, to support human health and the living Earth. These convivial rituals with food are environments where people can share thinking, sensing and feeling through experiences of preparing, making and eating healthgiving foods which restore our relationship to the natural cycles of growing, cooking and recycling food. Flora is dedicated to responsive farming, gardening and bee-guardianship practices that are integral to a transition towards food citizenship. Her lived inquiry engages with and reflects upon different forms of agroecological training and knowledge exchange in order to understand the qualities of learning environments that cultivate people’s confidence in and ability to take forward natural food growing practices.

As farmer Wendell Berry says, ‘eating is an agricultural act’. So, as eaters together with gardeners and farmers, we can shape the future of our landscape by supporting practices that care for the health of our soil and the purity of water. At PULSE, our two-week residency in February 2016 with Stellenbosch University in partnership with the Sustainability Institute (SI) people experienced what it means to become a food citizen by participating in natural cycles of growing food, healing cooking traditions and ways of recycling food back to the soil. As food citizens we become aware of how our eating and shopping behaviours shape our futures.

Inspired by PULSE, the SI invited Miche and Flora back for one month from 15th August until 15th September. During this month’s residency they will be working closely with the SI team and with a community of people living and working in the Western Cape who care about our food futures.

What to look forward to

During this month with the SI, they will be sharing several public events that all are welcome to join.

The first is a series of sessions for hands-on skills sharing food rituals with Miche. These focus on food composting, food preserving and the art of cooking mayonnaise. One of these will feature each Wednesday between 2-5pm. Participants will have the opportunity for hands-on healing traditions of food preparation with fresh, local produce of the season. As well as having a taste of new ways of being with food, there will be time to reflect on the experience and share in group discussion.

Wednesday 17th August       

2-5pm FOOD FOR THE EARTH with Neil Graham: Composting food with bokashi

Wednesday 24th August       

2-5pm WILD CULTURES: Food preserving through fermentation

Wednesday 31st August       

2-5pm HONEYCOMB CONVERSATIONS: Becoming bee guardians

On Sunday 11th September, the SI opens its doors for its first Lynedoch Spring Festival. Come along and discover local producers with their naturally grown foods, the SI gardens, food films and forums, and see our Living Cultures exhibition and enjoy the bounty of food from the season.

Sunday 11th September       10am LYNEDOCH SPRING FAIR at SI


Touchstone collaborations is a socially engaged arts research practice dedicated to enlivening the imagination, thinking with nature, and remembering the body. Our research focusses on the living and regenerative cycles of soil, food and water and inspiring regenerative, agri-cultural processes for sustaining cultures in balance with nature. As ecological artists and action researchers our approach is responsive and emergent, collaborative and transdisciplinary and dedicated to fostering ecologies of

iiMiche’s dedication is to explore, through the lens of her food ritual practice, the conditions that help nurture food citizenship. By reflecting on people’s experiences of her devised, inclusive, convivial food rituals, Miche’s doctoral research uncovers the art of restoring our full capacities to think and feel with each other and in relationship to the living food cycles of which we are a part.