The tree that grows 40 types of fruit
Sam Van Aken’s Tree of 40 fruits reveals the symbiosis in food production
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" “Like the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden, these trees are a potential; they are the beginning of a narrative that transforms the site they are located in,” explains Van Aken, creator of the Tree of 40 Fruit. “The far-reaching implications of these sculptures include issues of genetic engineering, biodiversity versus food monoculture, and, ultimately, the symbiosis of humankind’s relation to nature.” The project is able to show how commercial varieties are formed by human intervention by visibly manipulating something often seen as completely natural.
Born from a fascination with the traditional technique of grafting, Sam Van Aken’s grows the trees as an exercise in gardening as public art. Made from rare antique and heirloom varieties found all over New York, the trees are able to produce up to 40 stone fruits, including plums, apricots, nectarines, peaches, cherries and almonds. The first tree was planted in 2011, and Van Aken has placed them in public places that people will stumble upon, in order to interrupt expectations.
The roots and trunk of one particular variety are used for the stock of each tree, and the branches from numerous other types of stone fruit are grafted on to the trunk. The trees are mapped and sculpted depending on the way each variety blooms and produces fruit, meaning that they are in blossom continuously with various shades of pink, white and red for a month in spring, which is replaced by fruit in summer. "
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