Holiday Meeting & Lecture

MHG Meetings

Sponsored By: metro Hort Group

Thursday, December 2nd
6:00pm–7:15pm — “Doors” open at 5:30pm

PLEASE NOTE: Registration is required to attend virtual meetings. Details below.

Join us for this interactive, virtual meeting and holiday potluck!
BYOHFD — translation: “Bring Your Own Holiday Food & Drink!”

Sam Van Aken
Re-orcharding New York
Fascinated by the historical narratives embedded within native fruits and their ability to preserve genetic diversity, artist, professor, and fruit tree-grower Sam Van Aken is undertaking a citywide project that will return lost or forgotten varieties to their places of origin. The Open Orchard will take the form of a public orchard on Governors Island that contains nearly 250 varieties that used to grow in and around NYC but disappeared with the rise of industrialized agriculture and a changing climate. Extending beyond the orchard, Van Aken will work with NYC Parks GreenThumb to distribute additional trees to community gardens across the city, placing such varieties as the Newtown Pippin apple, George IV peach, and Washington Gage plum back into the areas where they once grew.

Among its many forgotten histories, New York City was the origin of fruit tree-growing in the United States. From the Lenape who cultivated plums, apples, and cherries throughout the five boroughs, to the Huguenots who introduced grafting and other agricultural practices in the eighteenth century, the city and surrounding region have long been shaped by waves of migration and those who brought fruit with them as a connection to home.

Sam Van Aken is a contemporary artist whose work utilizes the techniques of grafting as an artistic medium to create multi-grafted trees that blossom in different tones and bear fruit from summer into fall. Focused on preserving heritage fruit varieties, Van Aken is currently developing an orchard of these heirloom and antique varieties on Governors Island that makes these fruit and ways of growing them available to the public.

Born in Reading, Pennsylvania, Sam Van Aken grew up on a family dairy farm. He received his undergraduate education in Art and Communication Theory. Immediately following his studies, he lived in Poland and worked with dissident artists under the former communist regime through the auspices of the Andy Warhol Foundation and the United States Information Agency. Van Aken received his MFA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and since this time his work has been exhibited and placed nationally and internationally. He has received numerous honors including a Joan Mitchell Foundation Award, Association of International Curators of Art Award and a Creative Capital Grant. Most recently, his work has been presented as part of Nature at The Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial and the Cube Design Museum, Netherlands; and was recognized as a Cultural Leader, exhibiting and presenting at the 2020 World Economic Forum. Sam Van Aken lives and works in Syracuse, New York, where he is currently an Associate Professor in the School of Art at Syracuse University.

To attend this meeting, you must be a current Metro Hort member.
Pre-registration is required.

Members, please check your email for invitation.
Non-members, we’d love to see you there — Sign up here to join us and get this and all future invitations.

Deadline to Register: *90 minutes before meeting start-time

Sam Van Aken