Dirt-O-Rama – Intriguing Tales Beneath Our Feet

From July 14th through the 29th, Athena and I will be at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum participating in their summer program entitled “Dirt-O-Rama – Intriguing Tales Beneath Our Feet.  I don’t believe anything has been posted to their website yet that describes the summer’s events.  Whenever that happens and there is a description of our activities I’ll post it to the blog.  For now, here’s a link to their site:  //www.arboretum.umn.edu/

Ponds at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

As was the case last summer when we worked at the Denver Art Museum, our program is open to public participation and I believe that it is focused primarily around children.  At least that is the way we have designed our project.  Of course, we’d love to have any willing adults join us.  Chances are we will need any help we can get.

Athena put together a great model of what will essentially be a little playhouse made primarily from clay and other natural materials.  I was trying to remember whether or not I did anything, perhaps I mixed some mud, but this was all her creation.  And when someone’s that good, I think you’d agree, best not to interfere.  From what I understand it will be titled something along the lines of the “Clayhouse.”  We haven’t mapped out all the details yet on how it will be constructed, but let this suffice to say that we will make it as easy as possible and ideally fun.

Creating the Dirt-O-Rama model.

I don’t think I have much more to say about it for now.  If you are in the area, consider this an invitation to join us.  To work that is, OK?

Clay House model.

The Dirt-O-Rama is a beautifully conceived summer’s worth of events with an admirable vision.  Not surprising, in that the Arboretum is a most impressive organization.  What I can give you for now is the overall description of the summer’s events.

Main building entrance at the Arboretum

Dirt-O-Rama Description

The soil beneath our feet is an essential resource that undergirds our lives, yet is often overlooked, misunderstood and mismanaged.

The exhibition will integrate art and science to focus visitors’ attention beneath the surface, exploring the teeming web of life in soil and how it supports all other life on earth.  (Who else can bring a public exhibit to the masses, highlighting the importance of soil, the earth’s skin?)

Landscape Arboretum Grounds

Scientists report there is often more life below ground than above.  Soil is not only bits of rock and the decaying remains of living things among pores filled with air and water, but it also teems with life, including microbes, tiny soil micro-organisms, insects and other invertebrates, and larger animals.  The Arboretum will illustrate how we “stand on the rooftop of another world”.

Rising human population and its increasing needs place growing demands on the land to produce food and feedstock, fiber, bioenergy, and other crops.  Wise stewardship of soil resources and careful management of their fertility – including erosion and runoff reduction – are essential for producers to meet these demands.

Call this a demonstration of the Arboretum's fertility.

Development often leaves soil stripped and compacted, its life disrupted or destroyed.  Soil’s fragile nature and cultural practices that conserve and restore it will be presented in this exhibition.

Everyone has an important role to play in returning organics and their nutrients to the soil bank and in reducing what is sent to landfills. For example, the exhibit will demonstrate how to compost yard and food waste on-site and how to support the systems that provide this service.

Last summer's project, built from willow branches.
Our supervisor and go-to person at the Arboretum, the incredibly competent and amazing Sandy Tanck.


Prev iPhones on the Rio Sonora
Next Heirloom Tomatoes, Garlic and Chiltepines - 36 Hours in Northern Sonora


  1. Athena, would like to be a bit of a chipmunk and live in that casita for awhile, great space and bill the “Webhead” landscape is dynamite. We enjoy your travels and interest so much. keep ’em coming. Thanks for the inspiration. Lalo

Leave a comment