ARTFARMS is an innovative project combining art, architecture and agriculture, that responds to our nation’s problem of urban vacancy. Like many cities across the United States, Buffalo's population has dramatically shrunk in recent decades as manufacturing jobs left the area. In response, the city of Buffalo has launched a campaign to demolish thousands of abandoned and blighted homes, leaving a patchwork of vacant lots across the city. Terrainsvagues, architects David Lagé and Andrea Salvini have joined forces to transform these vacant lots into interactive installations that will inspire redevelopment in Buffalo’s dwindling East Side neighborhood.
Like the broken windows theory, ARTFARMS was created to turn around the stigma that the vacant land of the East Side of Buffalo gives to potentially interested developers. By creating a citywide project that activates these lots, ARTFARMS will not only reenliven the areas surrounding it, but draw the attention of developers to the potential of these properties.
ARTFARMS’ solution is to combine urban farming with art, engaging the community while also yielding a tactile benefit — fresh food. Thus far, the project has chosen artists Millie Chen, Warren Quigley, Ethan Breckenridge, Kyle Butler, Michael Beitz and Megan Michalak to create site-specific pieces for vacant lots around Buffalo. Each artist will design pieces that invite the community in, while coexisting with a partnering urban farm on the lot.
For example, Michael Beitz’s existing art installation, Folding House, was a wooden house frame connected to a bicycle, in which visitors could shift and move to touch each border of the lot’s perimeter. His new proposal repurposes a fallen tree from the community, creating a table that can be shared from residents. The artists’ installations will coincide with planted farms by urban farmers Daniel Ash and Janice and Mark Stevens.
ARTFARMS is an ongoing project, with hopes to begin construction this fall. With ARTFARMS Buffalo’s success, the group hopes to expand to other regions, fusing art and farming while solving the problem of urban vacancy, one lot at a time.