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Burke Receives Partnership Grant From North Central SARE For A Socially-engaged Art & Agriculture Project

2022 Ruth Burke Domestic Rewilding September Franconia Bowen 01

North Central Region SARE has fully funded Burke’s $49,248 proposal titled Re-Integration of Mixed-Power Systems in Agroecological Intensification.”

Over the next two years, alum Ruth Burke (MFA 17) will collaborate with farmers Sally Lasser of R Wildflower Farm & Fields, Becky E. Howell of The Shire, Ron Navis of Heyworth, Jeff Hake of McLean (and Funks Grove Pure Maple Sirup), Nick Frillman of the Tri-County Extension office, and Rob Collins of Centreville, MI.

The project employs mixed power (combining draft animal power with tractors) to establish two pollinator plots and two pollinator-friendly earthworks in McLean County, Illinois. Burke teaches at the Wonsook Kim School of Art at Illinois State University.

As part of the project, the farmer-partners will host two public field day events in McLean County, likely in 2025. The grant will fund equipment, seeds, materials, transport, research, field day events, and compensation for the farmer-partners. The objectives are to raise awareness about the importance of biodiversity and healthy food systems in Central Illinois, create pollinator habitats, enhance soil health, and foster resilient community infrastructures that will endure beyond the project’s duration.

Since 2015, Burke’s practice has exclusively focused on interspecies relationships, framed within socially-engaged art. She believes that community includes both human and nonhuman life. Burke currently has ongoing draft-animal-powered earthworks as part of her Domestic Rewilding” series in rural Wisconsin, Central Illinois, and rural southeastern Pennsylvania.