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Project to Graft Branches is Blooming on Campus

Mon Apr 26, 2021

Haughwout’s visit wasn’t just about the grafting. The project also included presentations and hands-on workshops as she worked with students in printmaking, photography classes, digital drawing classes and a special mini project with Allard’s digital drawing course.

They made multispecies seed packets where students were assigned a tree in the CSUSM landscape. They not only had to draw the tree itself but also the textures and species around it. The artwork was then printed and turned into seed packets for companion species for the trees.

One of the students Haughwout connected with was Addy Lyon, a fourth-year AMD major with a minor in psychology. Lyon is involved in many eco-art projects on campus, including running the community garden.

“Working with Margaretha was a wonderful experience, learning more about the technical process of grafting and the community activism aspect of her work,” Lyon said. “Especially learning about how non-fruit bearing trees hold the ability to grow fruit through the grafting process was very eyeopening to the possibilities in which nature holds. Seeing the grafts blooming on campus is so beautiful and knowing that it was successful is an extraordinary feeling.”

Said Bricke: “I found her ability to connect with students and faculty inspiring. I think that for many students who participated, it was an opportunity to discover new places on campus and see in greater detail the places and plants that surround us.”

Haughwout said one of the highlights of her visit was getting a tour of the campus with Diekman from George Martinez, the assistant director of facility services. He provided a history of the campus landscape as well as plans for the future.

Martinez’s PDF about the landscaping on the CSUSM website helped her enormously as she made plans for her visit.

One of the stops was at the statue of César Chávez. The blooming trees in question are on the sides of the steps leading to the statue, just to the east of the USU.

“As an artist, I am always looking for moments and spaces in everyday life in which I can intervene,” Haughwout said. “I work with technologies and ecologies to do these interventions – to reveal possible worlds, worlds of presence, relationship and abundance. In so doing, I want to antagonize capitalist and colonial organizations of place (property), work and nature.

“I loved that they stood beneath the statue of César Chávez, the incredible leader of farm workers’ rights and such an important figure in agricultural history. I like to imagine he is expressing solidarity with this project we were doing.”

It’s not a stretch to say these trees can give future CSUSM students the gift of life. A junior who hopefully steps back onto campus in the fall may enjoy some fresh pears before he or she graduates.

The entire project was meant to give students not only nutrition but, as Diekman puts it, “a multimodal experience of a better understanding of their environment on this college campus.”

When Allard returned to campus recently for his vaccine, the “dead sticks” had blossomed.

“It just felt like some kind of hopeful renewal because everything stopped so quickly right after the visit,” Diekman said. “I love the fact that these grafts just kind of on their own decided to continue the life of the project they took, and they worked and they're growing now because you don't know if they're going to work or not. I just find these grafts inspiring and renewing and makes me feel hopeful about a return to campus. And these will always be there. The life to the project continues on.

“Flowers grow through weeds sometimes. For as tough as we've had it the past year, and the campus certainly was not immune to any of the tough situations, now we're moving back, and here's the symbol of what that can be.”