Spend Your Summer (or Spring, or Fall) with Better Farm

As you begin making your plans for 2013, consider taking some time away from home to get a premier education in sustainability—or to enjoy some open space in which to do your art. Better Farm offers a year-round, introductory sustainability education program; while its subsidiary betterArts offers artists an unrivaled, creative environment in which to work on a masterpiece. More information about each below!

Better Farm's Sustainability Education Program
Better Farm’s Sustainability Education Program offers individuals an immersive, introductory crash-course in sustainability initiatives. Those accepted to the program will receive a hands-on education in a myriad of seasonal topics related to sustainability and environmental issues, including:
  • organic small-scale farming and gardening
  • greenhouses and four-season farming
  • compost methods
  • alternative building and energy
  • rain and graywater collection
  • aquaponics
  • chicken care
  • community outreach initiatives (supper clubs, volunteer work at area farms, workshops, presence at local events)
  • homesteading (organic cooking, canning/preserving, splitting wood)
  • outdoor survival

Better Farm's Sustainability Education Program runs in one- to three-month intervals. Those attending will receive daily assignments and chores all related to sustainability initiatives and organic farming, as well as the opportunity to design and implement projects on their own. Upon completion of all units and responsibilities, participants will receive a certificate from Better Farm. College students may additionally receive course credit for completion of Better Farm's Sustainability Education Program (pursuant to agreement by that individual's school).

Individuals are immersed from day one in the local culture while working alongside other residents at Better Farm and in the Redwood community. Students are expected to do their share in maintaining the condition of Better Farm as well as its peaceful environment. Those accepted for Better Farm's Sustainability Education Program are expected to work seriously—and to conduct themselves in a manner that aids fellow residents in their endeavors.

Many sustainability specialists visit Better Farm throughout the year to offer mentoring and guidance to students interested in coming here to work and gain valuable experience. Additionally, individuals have the option of taking any workshops and participating in any excursions or field trips scheduled during their time at Better Farm.

Students live on-site and communally on the Better Farm campus in shared rooms. A flat fee of $500/month is required to cover educational fees, supplies, lodging, field trips, wireless Internet, use of the laundry machine, all linens and towels, on-site parking, and use of the communal kitchen (stocked weekly with food).

All applications must be submitted to internship@betterfarm.org. Applicants will be notified of their status within one month of submission.  

Click here to download the application.  

betterArts Residency Program 
betterArts seeks to provide an opportunity for creative exploration and growth to artists, writers, and musicians within the context of Better Farm's dynamic environment.

Located 10 miles from Alexandria Bay and the Thousand Islands, Better Farm is situated on 65 acres of property offering an unparalleled rural living experience. There are two lakes within walking distance; an on-site pond; vegetable, fruit, and herb gardens; shop space; open-air sheds for pottery and painting; a multimedia room; and a practice space for musicians (recording equipment available for a nominal additional fee). Room and board, all meals, linens and towels, wireless Internet, on-site parking, movie nights, and field trips are included in a low stipend we require of all residents. The environment is simple and communal. Residents are expected to do their share in maintaining the condition of Better Farm as well as its peaceful environment.

betterArts residents are encouraged to interact and participate in the goings-on around the property, and to help out with chores and farm-related responsibilities between three and five hours each week. These responsibilities may include working in the gardens, participating in arts-related community outreach projects, helping with house chores, cooking, or assisting with other odd jobs.

Residencies are for two weeks, three weeks, or month-long periods. Basic facilities at Better Farm will be provided; but betterArts residents are expected  to provide the majority of materials and equipment they would need for the production of their work.

The standards for admission are talent, desire to live and work at Better Farm, and a willingness to have a go at the Better Theory: a belief that each moment presents us with the opportunity for exponential personal growth

Click here to download the application.

Welcoming BetterArts Resident Lily Chiu

Lily Chiu is a writer and poet joining us this month at Better Farm through a betterArts residency.

"I believe the best stories elicit truths about our humanity," Lily wrote to us in her application. "When my father told stories at night, I insisted on no fairytales. I wanted to hear about his childhood in Taiwan. I wanted the grit of how his brother, using a heavy iron bell, inflicted a blow to his forehead that left a scar still visible to this day. Without knowing it at the time, I wanted the truth of his experience.

"When I write, I am grasping for that same truth, not the kind defined by facts, but the emotional center, what Henri Cole described as 'feeling the flesh of what is human.' I am interested in contradictions—the sweet married to the bitter, how presence is defined by absence, how, in Rilke's words, 'it is alternately stone in you and star.' I want to explore how we live despite and because of them."

Lily's a Stanford University graduate who's alternately worked as a project manager for Boltnet, director of Marketing with eduFire, and senior sales engineer with Omniture. She's taking this month to focus solely on her writing. Lily will spend her betterArts residency continuing a body of work about contradictions; particularly what it means to be alive through the juxtaposition of nature and human beings. Ultimately this work is moving toward a larger collection of her writing.

Lily grew up in Oneida, N.Y., leaving when she was 10 years old for a small desert town in Southern California. "My fondest memories," she told us, "the ones that haunt my writing, are those of morning glories unfurling at first light [in Oneida], and the stark silhouette of weeping willows in our backyard at dusk. I have wanted to return for a long while now. I can't imagine a better place for my writing than betterArts."

For more information about betterArts' residency program, click here.
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Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

Thank You

Saturday marked betterArts' first annual Open House and Fundraiser, which welcomed members of the community and visitors from all over to stop in and check out our Art Barn, peruse work by local and visiting artists, listen to music by more than half a dozen acts, and get acquainted with free summer programming funded entirely through donations.

The event, put on in conjunction with the First Annual Artists' Studio Tour in the Thousand Islands region, was a roaring success. More than 200 people visited Better Farm throughout the day and learned about the initiatives being taken on by betterArts.

You can see the full album of the day's festivities by clicking here.

We'd like to offer our most heartfelt thanks to all those who came out to support this worthy cause. Without your support, our endeavors to make music and the arts accessible to all would be impossible. Special thanks also go out to the following:

Our Sponsors
The John Hoover Inn

Our Musical Acts, Especially:
Ben Plante and Friends
Airhead Jordan
The Pistol Whippers
Brian Purwin and Friends
Aaron Horeth

Our Hoopers and Fire Dancers:
Jozette & Seth

Our Volunteers:
Carl Frizzell
Bob Laisdell
AmberLee Clement
Tess Flynn
Ben Paul Plante
Holly Boname
Erin Fulton
Brian Purwin
Jim Mercer
Nick Bellman
Mike Brown
Jon-Michael Passerino
Sue Kerbel
Phil Randazzo

Our Board of Directors:
Nicole Caldwell
Holly Boname
Erin Fulton
Scott Smith
Mike Brown
Sarah Herold
Anet Hammette

Winners of our raffles from the event will be contacted this week about claiming their prizes. For betterArts' summer workshop schedule, click here. For more information about the betterArts residency program, click here.

Great news coverage from the day can be found here:
Watertown Daily Times (front page!)
WWNY TV 7

Introducing Artist-in-Residence Maria Wallace

"Love Max", 2011, oil on canvas. By Maria Wallace.
Maria Wallace is an oil painter and drawer who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., visiting us through the betterArts residency program until May 27.

"Basically I am an artist to be who I am," she told us in her application, "Art to me is a way to access the most incomprehensibly able parts of myself. Drawing represents the ability to use parts of the brain and the self one can’t know through thought. It is easy to feel powerless without creativity since so little of what we do can be fully understood. But I feel like all transcendent human potential really can’t be conceived by the limited mind, yet it is totally necessary. To me, the ability to do things one can’t understand is not only a hallmark of making art but is the approach to apply to all areas in which we seem stuck."



The source of Maria's creativity has always been the natural world, which in the past has been represented by Prospect Park and her own back yard. She grew up next to an apple orchard, and ever since has been especially drawn to apple trees.  She's done a lot of work drawing outside around New York City, and painting inside. "Being out of the city and on a farm, which in addition to being a more natural and harmonizing place, explicitly represents the present and presence, is exactly the cultivation my art and I need."

Here are some samples of her work (more at http://mswallace.net!):

"Like Bunnies", 2011, Oil on Canvas,  31" x 30”. By Maria Wallace.
"Party Girl"
"Stormy Peaches", 2011, Oil on Canvas, 12" x 19”
Be sure to see Maria's works-in-progress and more finished pieces at our open house this Saturday, where she will be our featured artist for the first annual Thousand Islands region Artists' Studio Tour!

For more information about betterArts residencies and to apply, click here.

betterArts Residency Info Now Available through New York Foundation for the Arts

Information about the 2012 betterArts residency program is now available through the New York Foundation for the Arts' website:

betterArts Residency
betterArts, Inc.
(Redwood NY)
www.betterarts.org

betterArts residencies seek to provide an opportunity for creative exploration and growth to visual artists, writers, and musicians within the context of Better Farm's dynamic environment.
 
Located 10 miles from Alexandria Bay and the Thousand Islands, Better Farm is situated on 65 acres of property and offers an unparalleled rural living experience. There are two lakes within walking distance; an on-site pond; vegetable, fruit, and herb gardens; a 1400-square-foot Art Barn and gallery space for dance, choreography, painting, sculpture, and more; and a practice space for musicians. 

Food, all linens and towels, wireless Internet, on-site parking, and field trips are included in a low stipend we require of all residents. The environment is simple and communal. Residents are expected to cook for themselves (group cooking is common), and to do their share in maintaining the condition of Better Farm as well as its peaceful environment.

To that extent, betterArts residents are expected to interact and participate in the goings-on around the property (helping with farming, doing minor construction projects, helping with house chores, or assisting with other odd jobs). All those accepted for betterArts residencies are expected to work seriously—and to conduct themselves in a manner that aids fellow residents in their endeavors.  
 
The standards for admission are talent, desire to live and work at Better Farm, and a willingness to have a go at the Better Theory: a belief that each moment presents us with the opportunity for exponential personal growth. RESIDENCIES WILL BE ANNOUNCED ON A ROLLING BASIS WITHIN ONE MONTH OF RECEIVING YOUR APPLICATION.

Website: http://www.betterarts.org/residency-info
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Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

Ruby's Amanze-ing Week of Work


Ruby Amanze was only at Better Farm for one week as a betterArts resident, but managed to produce as much art she said as might normally take her a month or more. On Saturday, her last night here, she put her work up on display for us to take a peek at.

Her process is layered, she explained. First she does a color wash on the paper, then works with any combination of inks and pencils for detail. Her geometric shapes and styles lend a continuity to her pieces that we all love.

It was a busy week for Ruby. In spite of the inclement weather, she managed to squeeze in daily jogs, asparagus-planting in Better Farm's raised beds, puttings seeds of peas, lima beans, and onion bulbs into the ground in the main garden area, catching a Dawg Brothers concert at the Dancing Dog last Friday night, sunset-watching on Butterfield Lake Saturday, helping to host a Supper Club dinner party last Tuesday, and oh yeah, completing four huge pieces of art. Best of luck to Ruby on all her endeavors. She will be missed!





To keep up with Ruby, follow her website. To learn more about the betterArts residency program and to apply, click here.

Comment

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

Introducing betterArts Resident Ruby Amanze

"I want to make art and live in peace... even if it is just for a short amount of time," Ruby Amanze wrote in her letter of intent to betterArts. "As many artists who work full-time jobs (non-studio employment) will testify, studio time is 'in-between' time. After work, on the weekends, whenever I can make the time to work on a drawing. Those who are passionate, will make the work no matter what."

For the next week, Ruby will be living, breathing, and working on her art right here at Better Farm as the latest artist-in-resident to pay us a visit.

Ruby, who serves as directory of education at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts in Brooklyn, N.Y., holds a bachelors of fine art (Summa Cum Laude, no less) from the Tyler School of Art, a masters of fine art from Cranbrook Academy, and has been featured in more than a dozen juried and group exhibitions since 2004. She's been a teaching artist at the Fabric Workshop and Museum Education and Department in Philadelphia, Penn., a lecturer of photography at Ursinus College, and a lecturer of design at the Drexel University's Department of Art and Art History.

"Being in a quiet environment surrounded by nature would be a welcomed change to my Brooklyn, N.Y., daily routine," she told us. "I'm a very simple girl and I believe in, and aspire to, a simple and clean life. My father grew up in a village in Imo State, Nigeria. Learning to farm and cultivate the earth had been, and is, the way of life for generations before and after him. Likewise, my mother grew up on the coast in Port-Harcourt, Nigeria, a major fishing port. Many aspects of their upbringing have been instilled in me and I have since taken an interest in finding ways to live a more ecologically friendly life from the food I eat, the types of businesses I support, and the products I use in my house and on my person. Better Farm sounds like the perfect combination of space to step back for a minute and dedicate myself to making art and living in a healthy environment amongst like-minded individuals."

In her time here, we're going to have Ruby working on the grounds, in the greenhouse and gardens, and involved in daily "family dinner" parties. Stay tuned for pics of her progress here! 

See more images of her work after the jump!



 


For more information about betterArts' residency program, click here. To learn more about Ruby and her work, click here.

In the betterArts Studio









All photography by Nicholas Aquino-Roithmayr. Originally published on artist-in-residence Jennifer Elizabeth Crone's blog. To learn more about betterArts residencies and to apply, please visit the betterArts website.
Comment

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

Look Closer: New work by artist-in-residence Jennifer Crone

"Look Closer", by Jennifer Elizabeth Crone
oil paint, sheet music, pages from found book
For more information on the betterArts residency program, click here
Comment

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

New York Foundation for the Arts Has the Scoop on betterArts


New York Foundation for the Arts has listed betterArts' residency program on its site. Click here for more information!
Comment

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

Spend your Winter in the Snowy Tundra of Redwood, N.Y.

Why should summer have all the fun?

Better Farm's sustainability internship and artist residency program now have rolling applications, so you can expand yourself with work experience and artistic proclivities 365 days a year.


Our internship program runs in one- to three-month intervals and is available to students interested in a myriad of sustainability issues, with each internship tailored to suit a specific individual’s needs and personal goals. Interns have the option to visit us during regular business hours Monday through Friday, or live on-site in shared rooms for a nominal fee. Off-season projects include garden mapping, cold frame construction, homemade soaps and candles, green renovations, and more. Click here to download the application.

betterArts' artist residency program seeks to provide an opportunity for creative exploration and growth to artists, writers, and musicians within the context of Better Farm's dynamic environment. The standards for admission are talent, desire to live and work at Better Farm, and a willingness to have a go at the Better Theory: a belief that each moment presents us with the opportunity for exponential personal growth. Click here to download the application.
1 Comment

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

Caroline Reid and Kate Ryan: A more realized space

Caroline Reid and Kate Ryan spent the last week of August at Better Farm as artists-in-residence in our betterArts program. The two Brooklyn-based women play together in the band Frankie Rose and the Outs¸ which kicks off a fall tour Sept. 15 at The Glasslands Gallery in Brooklyn.

Caroline is a multimedia artist and bass player who launched her first capsule collection of one-of-a-kind jumpsuits in 2009. In the process of expanding that line, she put her focus into designing stage clothes for Frankie and the Outs. She also used her time at Better Farm to expand her study of the tarot; which, she says, "will ultimately manifest as a video-tarot deck.

"I plan to create a series of vignettes that unpack and re-imagine the stories and archetypes of the tarot," she said, "with the ultimate goal of using technology to compile them in an order that responds to cues from the viewer, creating a cinematic experience that is different for every person every time it is watched."
 
Kate came to Better Farm to expand her body of writing—an opportunity that, she said, was stifled by a busy work schedule and day-to-day stresses in New York City.

"Writing and completing a substantial piece of work," she said, "[and] to work on the farm and be a part of the community at Better Farm, is one that I would value enormously. The theory behind Better Farm, to learn and grow from everything, to learn to love and work with whatever it is life gives you, is an important guiding principle in my life."


In their time at Better Farm, Kate and Caroline transformed the bus and barn into studio spaces complete with makeshift desks and chairs, dried flowers, and candlelight.



The women also contributed by running our farm stand and manning Better Farm's table at the weekly farmers market. We wish them the best of luck on their tour and with all their creative pursuits!

For more information about betterArts' residency program, click here. To see pictures of the bus and barn transformation, as well as other photos from this summer's residents, click here.

Artist-in-Residence: Mark Dilks

Mark Dilks, a painter and collage artist from Philadelphia, Pa., recently completed a week-long artist residency at Better Farm.

A graduate of Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass., Mark has worked for a number of years at numerous Philadelphia-based art institutions; including a stint as arts coordinator at Please Touch Museum, Philadelphia's children's museum. While there, Mark planned, organized, and executed activities for the museum's visitors. He painted all the while, working mostly in oil-on-canvas. Before coming to Better Farm, Mark held several residencies elsewhere, including Vermont Studio Center; and shared a studio with the founders of A United Front, an organization connecting creative communities. Mark will begin coursework at MICA in Baltimore this month. His band Deep Possum plays regularly in the Philadelphia area.


To see more of Mark's work, please visit the following links:
To commission a piece or ask any questions, contact Mark.