This winter at the FEAST Local Foods Festival, we were delighted to contribute local produce to a grand carpet, or "Alfombra," created during the event by artist Susan Waughtal of Squash Blossom Farm.
The alfombra was created in the style of Latin American street festival displays. According to FEAST, "traditionally sawdust is the primary medium, though pine needles, wood shavings, bottle caps, and even tea bags are also used to create alfombras. Fruits, vegetables, and flowers like carnations, bougainvilleas, chrysanthemums, and roses are often added as finishing touches. The finest carpets are recognized for their details and crisp edges."
Produce in the alfombra was purchased through the Minnesota Farmers' Market Food Hub project from ELEVEN growers who also sell at Rochester Farmers Markets:
Golden Valley Farm
Produce included dozens of vegetables and decorative products grown in southeastern Minnesota and available at late-season (November and December) farmers markets. Wording and outlines used vibrant "squirrel corn" from Golden Valley Farm, evergreen boughs, and poinsettias from Greenwood Plants. Also heavily featured were the autumn colors of pumpkins, winter squash, radishes, turnips, red and white potatoes, rainbow-colored carrots and Honeycrisp apples. Adding a splash of green were cabbage, leeks, bok choi, chard, and baby kale, brussels sprouts, and dozens of flats and decorative cups with still-growing assorted microgreens!
The art piece was created live during the event as customers passed by, and an elevated stage offered a view of the display. We loved watching customers enjoy the art and capture photos of themselves with family and friends with a produce backdrop. Videographer Ross Ballinger, who also happens to be a Rochester Farmers Market grower/vendor, was able to capture the 2.5 hr creation process. In Ballinger's words, "this was the biggest farmers market flex of the year!"
After the event, produce used in the alfombra was donated to local food shelves and shared with the many event staff and volunteers who dedicated their weekend to celebrating our local food system.
This activity was made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.