Traffic Island Edible Landscape / Diary (2011-2014)

September-October 2011

To start this PhD project, I have decided that the core of the research should be based on the making of works of art in the form of landscapes at a 1:1 scale in the urban area. I decided that the first work, an edible landscape (Traffic Island Edible Landscape), is to be made in the vicinity of the Aarhus School of Architecture (AAA). What this means is that from I start my employment at the AAA, my focus is that the school provides the context for this, the first work.

Physically, the school consists of a variety of buildings – new and old – located on both sides of a road called Noerreport, one of the most heavily trafficked roads in Aarhus. This road area is a junction for light and heavy traffic: each day thousands of road users – passenger cars and heavy traffic – pass through the area. Noerreport is an important and highly visible public space but the general impression one has is that Noerreport does not appear as a road to be crossed unless it is absolutely necessary.

During my first week of work, arriving at and leaving the school, is done by using pedestrian crossings located 50-100 meters left or right of the entrances to the school’s buildings. During this week it becomes clear that almost no one else is using these official crosswalks. Students and staff from the school cross Noerreport directly out from the entrances of the buildings between the official crossing points.

During the second week it becomes clear that the culture within the school is that everyone crosses Noerreport in a direct line rather walking to the crosswalks. The technique is that one waits by the roadside and crosses over to the central reservation when there is a gap in the traffic, or when the traffic is running so slowly that it is possible to walk in-between the cars and trucks. Then one waits on the central reservation and, when it is possible, one then crosses the lanes of the road on the other side. Doing this means suddenly becoming part of a pedestrian culture among students and colleagues.

In the first week people mainly nod when you pass them. In the second week there is some kind of recognition. After a few weeks, a surprising thing happens (and I find myself) standing in the traffic island and chatting with a colleague. It becomes evident that Noerreport is an important and highly visible public space, and that somehow just by moving through this road space one has become part of the school.

In parallel to the experience of Noerreport as an important public space, I investigate courtyards and other outdoor areas in the school complex. This is in search of a site where an edible landscape can be established in the context of the AAA; on the edible landscape there will be the cultivation of crops to be used for events relating to the PhD project. This intended to physically place the discussion about the role of landscape and new approaches towards it in the context of the School. By so doing I hope to promote discussion among students and colleagues. But, making an edible landscape in this context was also goal in itself.

Somehow, at this point this landscape seemed to be the weakest in the research, because in a way it was too similar to works I as well as others had made previously (urban farming as an increasing phenomenon). Therefore maybe it would be too “recognizable” and therefore not challenge our perspective on an urban landscape enough.


Wednesday, 12 September 2011

I passed one of the AAA’s janitors. He was sweeping the yard in Noerreport 20. I asked him whether it was him I needed to talk to if I needed to have described and see the outdoor areas of the School. He told me that I needed to talk to the school’s building administrator since he is responsible. He joked “Maybe he will send you back to me if he doesn’t want to show you, but say ‘hello’ from me and say that he surely has plenty of time …” I responded that if I came back he must give me a sweeper as well and show me the area, while we sweep.

The Building administrator was in his office. He spoke with one of his colleagues, but encouraged me to break into the conversation. I told him I needed to hear a bit about how the school’s outdoor areas are used. I said that I had been shown around the school’s different buildings but that I needed to have an overview of the outdoor areas of the school. They asked who my supervisor was, and referred to the fact that I can speak with him, or else I can look into the map at the school website. I said who my supervisors were and that they also would like to join a tour but that I just wanted to be informed first so I have a better sense of the school’s outdoor premises.

The building administrator and his colleague seemed to think that this was acceptable, and asked what I am planning to do. I explained that it´s related to my PhD project which will requires that I make a kitchen garden on the premises of the AAA, and that I therefore have to look at the opportunities around. The building administrator asked if I was thinking about a particular place or form. I explained that I was trying to keep it open and at first just have a look at what the possibilities were. I also said that it would be nice if the project could be located in a way where it would be be a good experience and not a nuisance factor for the surroundings. I was told that the premises of the School of Architecture belong to the University and Property Agency (Universitets og Bygningsstyrelsen). I asked if there was somewhere at AAA with access to the roofs of the buildings, or if there are any roof terraces. I was told that the closest there was to a roof terrace was some old attics, and we amuse ourselves a little. I said that I would take a walk and look at the situation and that I would surely will return with a lot of questions, and more… I left the office with the feeling that there was curiosity and openness, a good basis for something to become possible.


November-December 2011

Increasingly, Noerreport seems to be a really important public space both in regards to the school and for Aarhus in general. With an office located in a building on the one side of Noerreport there is a rich opportunity for me to follow the traffic along and across the road. It strikes me that the traffic island or central strip in between the traffic lanes is the perfect site for the edible landscape. This due to the possibility of entering one of the most dominant spaces within the urban area and challenging our perception of it both in regard to placing fragile, edible plants so close to heavy traffic as well as through establishing the site as a place by maintaining it. In deciding to establish an edible landscape in the traffic island at Noerreport the most important decision about the starting point is defined.

From this point there is a kind of liberty, as no matter whether it will actually be possible to establish an edible landscape in the traffic island or not, this idea itself defines a precise point wherefrom the work can find its form. Precise because it challenges how one perceives one of the most dominant urban spaces in the limitless city. The idea in mind is that whether or not the work succeeds or proceeds as planned, whether or not the edible landscape can be made in this location, the location is embedded in the work. The idea is to test how much one can do in such a difficult setting. As such, the setting is embodied in the work and that means the edible landscape may or may not turn out as hoped.

The decision to place an edible landscape by a busy road means that the AAA, the City Architect of Aarhus, and Aarhus Municipality’s Department for Technical Services and the Environment have to approve the work or at least give permission to establish it. This means the coordination of meetings, a situation that determines the work in the following months. It is a different situation working independently than as an employee within an institution. In this case, being independent, it is not really an option just to claim a piece of land for the edible landscape without asking the authorities.

Another important requirement of the work is to involve students who are interested (and colleagues as well). There are specific safety considerations that have to be taken very seriously if students are to take part in establishing the edible landscape. Additionally, there are considerations about having an employer (which in my case is a governmental institution) and also using “guerrilla” methods, which often ignores established legislations about who can claim certain spaces.

At this time it seems that there is only a small chance to conduct the necessary collaborations and to obtain the necessary permission to carry out the work in the traffic island in Noerreport. On the basis of previous projects it is my assumption that it will be very difficult to get permission to work in the road space. Furthermore, the financial aspects of the realization of the landscape are undecided.


January-February 2012

The dialogue about an edible landscape starts. It is important to have the support of the school, since it will enable the involvement of students.  Furthermore, it otherwise would be difficult to approach the municipality without the school´s help. At this time there is now a short text describing the work. The middle of January: the first meeting is held with the dean to properly introduce to him the idea of an edible landscape in the traffic island. Beforehand the idea has been introduced only briefly through e-mail. At this meeting I explain that I would like the first part of the PhD project to be established in the context of AAA. In this regard, there have been examinations of the school’s outdoor areas and how they are used. A good site has been found in the traffic island in front of Noerreport 20. The meeting is to discuss the possibility of establishing an edible landscape there and to discuss whether the school will support this idea. I also explain that the reason for this location is because this place in many ways functions as the school’s main public space. This is where many of us daily greet each other, maybe even have a brief talk while crossing the road. At the same time this road space is the place where the AAA physically meets and becomes part of the public space in the city. It is argued that it is an ideal place to establish a landscape that can contribute to reflection about the role of landscape and how we envision it in the urban space. The meeting is uncomplicated. The surprising thing is that the dean asks whether the approximately unpaved 100 square metres identified is a big enough area. Why not use the entire traffic island? It is clarified that the AAA supports the project.

In the following months there are meetings. The City Architect of Aarhus, Aarhus Municipality’s Department for Technical Services and the Environment and, under this, the Department of Traffic and Roads and The Department of Nature and Environment about authorization to establish the landscape. An application is prepared and submitted to both Kulturudviklingspuljen [Cultural Development Fund] in Aarhus Municipality and the National Arts Council /Art Committee to obtain finances to execute the work. The applications means that the various components of the work are described more carefully and also there has been made ​​a sketch showing the landscape’s character. Though it has been questioned whether 100 square metre is a big enough area, it is decided to stay at this size, as I think it will have a scale that is realizable even if I end up having to do the project alone and without funding.

First meeting is with the City Architect. The talk is about the landscape. Beforehand pictures of the work Traffic Island by the German artist and landscape architect Tita Geise have been sent. Geise wasn’t really consciously thought of as a reference when deciding on site, but she could unconsciously have figured anyway and it seems a good choice to bring in her pictures. The thought is that the placement must be demystified. At the meeting the city architect says he envisions lavender fields in the harbour area. The meeting ends inconclusively. By the end of the meeting it is pointed out that it will be necessary to talk with two other people, a Senior Engineer from the Department of Traffic and Roads, and the Head of The Department of Nature and Environment. Again it is surprisingly that there seems to be this positive receptiveness towards the concept. It seems relevant to reflect upon whether it is because an edible landscape is made in relation to the AAA, which has a tradition for collaboration with the municipality. An art colleague is convinced that this is the situation. Another aspect could be that this idea of working with landscapes and a temporary project within the urban area is beginning to be a common thing, and therefore getting the authorization to do it is much easier than it was, say, a decade ago. Finally there are considerations about the presentation of an edible landscape, whether it is sufficiently clear that it is an edible landscape.  Also, there is the point that it can be controversial to place edible plants in along a busy road. This is balanced in a way such that the beauty of the landscape is emphasised rather then the edibility.

Up next are meetings with the Senior Engineer from the Department of Traffic and Roads and Head of the Department of Nature and Environment. The same material is provided as was presented to the dean at the AAA and the City Architect. It is discussed what challenges there will be in establishing an edible landscape at Noerreport  - permits and safety. At both meetings there is an open atmosphere, but there is no final decision. At each meting there is also curiosity towards what response has been given at previous meetings. Generally there is this feeling that the various departments are waiting upon how the others are reacting towards the idea of an edible landscape in Noerreport.

After the meetings the dialogue is continued by e-mail. It seems that everyone involved can relate to the project but still there is no “official” yes. Then by start April a phone call to the Head of The Department of Nature and Environment, as time is passing and alternative sites need to be found if the traffic island in Noerreport is not a possibility. The outcome of the phone call is that certain procedures involving safety issues when working in a road space must be dealt with, but if these are observed then an edible landscape can be established there in the traffic island.


April 23 – 27 April 2012  

Establishing Traffic Island Edible Landscape


Monday, 23 April 2012

The establishment of an edible landscape starts. During the following days the landscape will be established in the traffic island with the help of six architecture students. The working day starts in the morning in Noerreport 15 where there is project briefing and allocation of the tasks ahead.

We begin with the presentation of a shutoff plan, which was received on Friday from an employee at Nature and Road services in Aarhus. The plan shows how one lane in each direction of Noerreport is to be closed so there is space around the traffic island to work safely within. Drawings of how cables run underground in the area are provided by an employee from the Nature and Environment; these need to be thoroughly reviewed before we start digging. It would have taken tremendous amounts of time to make this had I been an outsider in this context. The shutoff plan and the drawings of the cables make it very understandable that before even being able to plant anything there are substantial new challenges to be dealt with.

During the meeting a list is made of the tasks ahead, and it is discussed how to approach the work. During the meeting our traffic shirt sponsor calls and explains that they presently are unable to deliver. After some discussion they decide to have another go at solving the problem.

At this time, none of the following are in place: digging permit, police authorisation, informing the relevant authorities about closure of lanes in Noerreport, the rental of shutoff material. Together with the students it is discussed how to approach the process. We decide to divide the various tasks that are needed, to work until noon and then meet and give each other feedback and take account of the situation and work on.

The different tasks are divided based on what the different students find most interesting. One wants to identify how people pass through the traffic island in Noerreport so it can be taken into account when decisions about passages through the edible landscape are be made. This student also becomes responsible for preparing a documentation strategy that will ensure that the establishment can be illustrated and described afterwards. Another two volunteers do the final plant list and the representation/documentation strategy as well. Two volunteers work on arranging the opening, when an edible landscape is completed (Friday). The last student proposes to create a logo for our working shirts. I am appointed as responsible for ensuring that all licenses are in place and to make sure that our shirts arrive from our sponsor.

Then each starts their working day, with the agreement of a meeting during the afternoon to discuss the work that each has done and to make adjustments in the tasks that each is responsible for and to delegate new tasks. During the afternoon our sponsor finds a solution and the shirts are underway. Late afternoon the digging permission is received from Traffic and Roads.


Tuesday, 24 April 2012

The day starts with a morning meeting. The shirts have arrived, and they can be given the new designed edible landscape logos  – a really nice city skyline with plants and the title “An Edible Landscape”. The logos are to be sewed on by hand, which will have just the right contrast to the usual outfit worn by everyone working on a busy road. The plant list has been reviewed and a new one is presented. It is discussed that the plants should be ordered as well. We make a shopping list of tools to be purchased. Then considerations about the opening event are presented, and it is agreed that an invitation to the opening should be made as well.

Then our meeting continues in Noerreport, where the registration of movement patterns in Noerreport is presented. Important crossing points/lines have been identified. In the light of this and combined with consideration that it must be possible to maintain the landscape it is decided to keep these crossing points free of soil. Trails are marked and everyone resumes their tasks.

During the afternoon plants are ordered as well as shutoff material. It is arranged with the building administrator at the AAA that one of the building maintenance staff will help to pick up the shutoff material for Noerreport the following day. Police authorizations to establish an edible landscape are in place. Roads and Traffic are ensuring that information about the work in Noerreport is announced to the relevant authorities. ​A test is made of how photos of the process of establishing an edible landscape can be taken from our project room. It is decided to take pictures in such a way that it will be possible to make a stop-motion film.

Before the day’s work ended we take stock: opening event, plants, logos on shirts – all had fallen into place. It was agreed to meet a bit earlier the following day – a quarter to nine, as it would only be possible to block the lanes in Noerreport between nine am and tree pm.


Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Two small lines for the camera on the windowsill of Noerreport 15.

Today the establishment in Noerreport gets properly underway. It is really good that the establishment of an edible landscape is open to student participation and influence. It has meant that ensuring a focus that the students get something rewarding rather than the technical matters of organising and preparing thing so that it works to schedule.

The day starts with a drive picking up shutoff material at Nature and Road Services yard which is located in southwest Aarhus. All the material had been put aside and is ready just to be loaded into the car. Help is provided though and it is easily done due to the large size of the cargo bay (it would have taken ten drives with a normal trailer). Then back to Noerreport. It would haven taken half a life in a normal car. It took well over an hour to get the shutoff material. The students are ready to help unload in Noerreport.

While unloading it is arranged that other shutoff material in the form of signs, panels, and vans are being delivered by a private company. Things are very hectic. An employee from the private company arrives with the first panel truck.  Fortunately he is calm and goes through our shutoff plan, the signs, and he instructs us how the different things are placed exactly right. Then he drives the first panel truck to its start point, and one of the lanes (direction east) of Noerreport is blocked.

Instructions are made for how the lighting on the display board/panel truck is operated and as well as how one physically manoeuvres the display board/panel truck around. Signs are placed and the second display board/panel track is drawn into place. It feels simultaneously insane and fantastic to stand here in the middle of all the cars, busses and trucks directing the traffic. All this commotion, just to put in some small plants.

And just as the barrier around the traffic island is made, the supply of compost arrives. Instructions are given for where it should be placed. Then the employee from the private road sign material company leaves. If the instructions had not been given at this point things could really have gone wrong… the extent of the task became clear while standing in the middle of it. The traffic situation is different from every previous experience I have had of public spaces!

Then coffee in the canteen with the students and a plan was made for the rest of the day’s work. (I was rather elated by the day so far!) 


Thursday, 26 April 2012

We were all fairly shattered when we met at 8.45 a.m.; one of the students had become unwell. On Wednesday I found a new cutter although I really preferred to do all the digging by hand.  Mentally, I think it was pretty good though since the mere thought of the cutter motivated the students. We went through the day’s plan. The hours before lunch we would dig; the hours after lunch we would plant. The students in charge of our documentation installed a computer and a camera and then we went down to put the shuffle-off material in place – and it went super well!

So we start digging! We move slowly long the median strip and loosen the existing, compacted sand and gravel, which we mix with our compost and soil. We decided to order five more cubic meters of compost because I was afraid that otherwise there would not be enough soil to bind the water during summertime and that there therefore was a danger that the landscape was going to dry out.

We got the extra soil and we dug and dug … I tried to boot the cutter – it started and then it died … I tried again … One of the students tried … Then came a construction worker from a private company that was carrying out excavation work at the same time as us in Noerreport, in front of the AAA exhibition building. They had also been working there for some days and the sight of us digging manually had amused him and his colleagues. He tried to start the cutter, but he couldn’t as well get it started… So we continued digging manually, but we were hard-pressed and the weather was fairly bad! Then the construction worker who had tried to start the cutter returned. He said that they had half an hour, where they could not carry on with their work and he offered to drive their  “Bobcat” out to the traffic island and help us complete our work. It was great! It reminded me of the great helpfulness one often experiences when as a “private person” you do specific things in public. At the same time it also seemed clear that they only offered help because we actually had worked really hard.

We loosened the last compacted sand and gravel and mixed it with compost and soil. The soil work was completed and we could go to lunch having fulfilled our plan. We invited our helpers for lunch and we had a nice chat about how rarely we actually communicate across different disciplines, although many of us would benefit from it and it would open our perspective (both towards the others as well as towards our own work). Visually it was indeed a beautiful sight! We sat there in the canteen of the AAA in orange and yellow high-visibility clothes and though people trying to be discrete it was obvious that the combination of our guests and us caused a lot of curiosity.

After lunch we brought out all the plants to the traffic island and started composing on site. We had discussed how it would be good to group the plants just a little. The students arranged the plants on site and we discussed a few adjustments and then we started planting. The skies open above us! We have to stop working and seek shelter wherever each of us can find it.


Friday, 27 April 2012

We meet a quarter to nine in our room in Noerreport 15. The camera and computer are set up, while we make a plan for the day’s work. We set a target to be finished the planting at twelve o’clock so we can pack the entire barrier away and ensure that the display board/panel trucks can be picked up in connection with the official display of the edible landscape.

So we went down to the traffic island and began to put up our material. It seemed very straightforward compared to the first day and we just calmly did what we had to do. It was a wonderful experience that even just within a few days we had become familiar with this highly trafficked space! Then the students started planting, while I distributed our invitation to the opening. When finished I went down and helped them to get the last plants in the ground and to water them. Fortunately we had no rain today!

At 3 o’clock the opening started! We had done practical things right up to this point. There was a great atmosphere and we stood on the street in front of the AAA’s library, from where one could see the landscape. A sound system has been set up in the entrance to Noerreport 20, and the music mixes with the noise of the traffic. People wander between our serving table and the landscape. Some people sat in the window frames, some on beanbags placed on the pedestrian area; some were just standing in small groups. There was a good mix of people from the AAA – students and teachers – and colleagues from the arts. It was quite uplifting because the atmosphere we were hoping for actually materialized. Various people asked questions about the work we had done “Will you put up a sign?” “What plants have you used?” “How long will it be there?” “Can one eat it?” and “Is there anyone going to say something?”

The students and I gathered so we could introduce the work and welcome everyone. The acoustics were difficult because of the traffic and it seemed appropriate just to make a brief introduction. The students were introduced and I said a little about the motivation for doing the work and also tried to give an overview of all the different people involved in the realization. I also explained a little about the hope of contributing to a reflection about the role of landscape. In closing, the head of Centre for Architecture, New Technology and Design (and+), was introduced as guest speaker.

The head of and+ talked about the Centre and why she thought it was interesting to engage in the realization of the work. Subsequently, a tutor from AAA drew the attention of the participating students so as to say a few words. One of the students spoke and said that she had thought it was as an exciting collaboration! I wondered if I should have pushed harder for some of the students to say something, but my position has been that the decision was theirs, and that there would be other occasions to speak too!

We hang out for an hour. There was a really good atmosphere. Fruit and drinks for around eighty people were all consumed. People stood and talked in small groups. After an hour it was time to pack up. All the students were still there and we cleaned up and removed waste. The day ended in the room where we started. There were used working-gloves and our dirty shirts scattered throughout the room. I thanked everyone.

During the week it has become clear that the work had become easier to realize because of the cooperation with the students. It helped to structure the work, allowed the workload to be lifted. At the same time it challenged old habits of doing things. The final things were packed together and after the students had left, I dragged most of the stuff to my office in Noerreport 20. Before leaving for home I took a picture of the landscape from my window. It seemed quite quiet when I crossed Noerreport, and I am fairly excited to see how the landscape is after the weekend!


Thursday, 2 May 2012

After the weekend returning to the AAA and seeing it again the landscape is fine. At the east end of the landscape there are three empty holes where dill had been planted. In the centre three bamboo stakes to support plants are missing. Otherwise everything’s there. I look around to see if the plants or stalks are lying around anywhere, but it doesn’t look like it. Lucky it rained so much when we established the landscape (I say this now!) and therefore the plants actually are in good condition.

The following week I am cleaning up after the establishment of the landscape.

The shutoff equipment delivered by the private company has been fetched, but I still need to return all the shutoff equipment from Nature and Road Services.

A colleague has kindly offered to be the driver. While establishing an edible landscape we also removed some stones from the traffic island and they are now placed in the AAA’s backyard. While these tasks are carried out I will quietly get on track while reflecting on the work done and how to continue it.

The weird thing is that it somehow seems so simple that an edible landscape is located in the traffic island now. The new situation is being in the landscape without the students. The traffic around the landscape feels very violent when the lanes around are not blocked and there are no others in luminous yellow shirts working within the landscape.



I decide whenever possible that I will take a picture of the edible landscape and carry out garden work in the landscape before noon.


May 2012

(A note found between some papers)

In the western end of the landscape the dill has been cut down. The plants were fine and it looked as if it had been done with a scissors or a knife. It made me think that someone had taken it purposely to eat it.


Wednesday, 23 May 2012

The day started with a meeting in the landscape. During our conversation, we realize that there are red strawberries. We’re in the landscape for quarter of an hour, but the traffic is so heavy that we go somewhere quieter.

An hour later I return the landscape. I pick up cigarette butts, which constitute the majority of the rubbish in the landscape, but also I also found a single drinking straw and some paper.

From the window of my office I see two young women bend down and pick a strawberry.


Thursday, 24 May 2012

During the past days the sun has shone from a cloudless sky, and before starting the work within the landscape, I considered whether I should check the weather forecast, but I forget to do so. Today started with the removal of a plastic cup from the landscape before I found my work shirt and started watering. To water the whole landscape is such a large task that I had to repeat yesterday’s strategy, where I watered only some areas, so as to change from day to day, watering only where needed. I thought about my visibility in the landscape; in a way this opens up new perspectives but maybe the neighbours might also see me watering and maintaining it too much and take it for granted. There is a balance.  I collect water five times – ten watering cans in all – and I meet different people on the way who I exchange a few words with: “So, you’re doing the daily watering…”, “It’s really thirsty…”


Saturday, 26 May 2012

I started the day’s work by going through the landscape and collecting garbage. Not many people crossed the landscape today, but those who did weren´t the usual ones. Half past ten: I started watering the landscape. Some of the people passing said “hi”, including an elderly couple holding hands (there was this atmosphere weekend). I watered until noon, and then I met with a woman who writes for the newspaper Politiken. She wanted to write about Traffic Island Edible Landscape in connection to “Art Weekend Aarhus” from 1 – 3 June 2012. We had a good talk, and it was once again an occasion to consider the extent of the work. It seems more and more to me that the landscape itself is only a small part of the work. On a daily basis I use a lot of time taking care of it. But I have come to think that what is unusual about this (artistic) method, is the amount of time spent in direct contact with the work, being present within it.


Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Since Fall 2011, I have known that I would keep a diary blog about Traffic Island Edible Landscape. I’ve been thinking that there would be a special knowledge in collecting thoughts as well as knowledge of what happens in relation to the work that would be relevant, even to the core in this research. Afterwards I become aware of the 2011-work Black Box Garden by artist Camilla Berner. Berner’s project was to cultivate a garden on Krøyers Plads in Copenhagen out of existing vegetation and materials found nearby. Throughout the growing season Berner did a couple of hours of gardening every day, and afterwards wrote about her experiences and the day’s work in a diary or blog. I gave it some thought as to whether this diary then would be copying her work but recalled then that already in 2003 together with two colleagues having worked with diary descriptions on a homepage as part of a project.


Friday, 1 June 2012

During Art Weekend Aarhus, the AAA hosted an event in Noerreport – during the event there was served tapas made from the very crops that will be harvested from Traffic Island Edible Landscape later in the summer. The film of the establishment of the landscape was shown in the gateway to Noerreport 20. For the event I cooperated with  “Skiftesporet” which is a day-time offer aimed at persons on early retirement; food was served from an old bus under the heading “SUSA – spis ude, spis med andre” (eat out, eat with others).

The day’s work began in the landscape by going through it and collecting garbage. There was remarkably little of it, and most of what was there seemed to have been thrown from passing cars. The number of cigarette butts along the access corridors across the landscape seemed to be smaller. On the other hand, the number of cigarette butts, which is evenly distributed in the landscape, and therefore most likely thrown from cars, looks to be the same as in the days following the creation of the landscape.

Having collected garbage, weeding was done. It is surprising the amount of time this takes. I also wondered whether I am consistent enough in my weeding, as I cannot really bring myself to remove the flowering rape plants, which have cropped up. While I was weeding the carpenter at the AAA produced signs for my text on the landscape. These were placed on both sides of Noerreport, so that people passing by will be able to read a little about the work while they can see it. I was also able to drag a hose out into Noerreport! It was great to be able to minimize the distance I would have to carry water.

A professor comments that it is the first time research in the context of Centre of Strategic Urban Research makes headlines in Politiken.

In the afternoon, “Skiftesporet” arrived with the bus. I planted a few mint plants that I had received from a man interested in the landscape, but the combination of rock hard soil and the increasing afternoon traffic meant that I was only able to plant a few of them. While I’m planting, I notice a blackbird hopping around in the landscape.  I tried to catch the moment as a photo, but it mainly turned out as a picture of passing cars! I finished irrigating the landscape and in the meantime the bus had been ‘unpacked’, and a really fine and, in a way, domestic atmosphere was created at Noerreport. A projector was set up in the gate of Noerreport 20 and the stop-motion movie about the making of the landscape could be shown from there.

At 17:00 the event began. There was a very good atmosphere and a good mix of people from the AAA, from the artistic milieu, and people who had come along because of the coverage the work had been given in both the national newspaper Politiken and on the radio channel P4.

The competence manager in charge of artistic aspects at the AAA, who has handled the funding for the event, held a short speech, in which she introduced an edible landscape and talked a little about the project’s inclusion in Art Weekend Aarhus. She had suggested that the owner of the landscape architect firm Arkitekt Kristine Jensens Tegnestue should make a speech at the opening and concluded her speech by introducing Kristine Jensen.

We stand at Noerreport and listen to the opening speech: “…this mix of the edible and the traffic, that in the best, provocative way gets into the body”, “…thoughts about what we put into our mouths together with the horror of discovering where it was grown”, “…the garden’s idiotic sideline as the Garden of Eden – or whatever it is we call what we’re waiting for and longing for”, “…So get going, get a garden, anytime – as long as it is this time.”

It was a real privilege to be there and listen to her talk about the work, because she really engaged with it or entered into it and talked about how she understood it. I took note of the way she spoke about the landscape as a garden in the present – and not as a garden “beyond”. I hope it will be possible to get a copy of the text, on which subject I had a talk with her afterwards.

Next it was my turn to give a speech. I touched upon the possibilities I see in also introducing visual arts into the discussion of what our cities should be like – now as well as in the future. And I was happy that two of the students, who took part in establishing the landscape, also wanted to say a few words.

The first student spoke about her experience of how her fellow student had responded to the project: the first response had been puzzlement – what was it all about? Why create an edible landscape at Noerreport? Later, her fellow students were following the development of the landscape and commenting on it very openly. The second student told of an acquaintance of hers who had been very critical when she was told about the project. After having visited the AAA he sent her a picture of a strawberry plant with a pretty red strawberry! I was elated at the fact that both wanted to say something. I believe many of the discussions concerned with our urban area would benefit from many more people contributing with their thoughts on the subject.

Finally the leader of “Skiftesporet” concluded by talking a little about Skiftesporet, about our cooperation and about the menu which Kulturgyngen had made, and which the people from “Skiftesporet” finished preparing and subsequently served from the bus together.

The mood was really good. Again a very good mix of people – and the food was delicious!

Not long after the speeches, when I was entering the bus, a middle-aged man grabs hold of me. He can’t understand why I have made an edible landscape right there in the middle of the road.  “You can’t be serious! There are so many other places you could have done this!” I tell him that the choice is conscious, and that I think the collision between the landscape and traffic can open up new thoughts about how we want our cities to be, and also about how we grow – or don’t grow – our food. He’s really persistent, and follows me onto the bus. He keeps saying the same things. He seems aggressive, in contrast to the open attitude of others, where the landscape and its location seem to have been accepted. In the end I chose to just pull away from him. Subsequently, I have been thinking that it would have been really good to be able to have a more thorough talk with him and hear more.

The event continued for a few hours, and plenty of people were attending. We were able to serve tapas until the end of the event when together we packed up the bus.

After the Art Weekend I continue watering a few times a week until mid-June where it starts raining again. I gather garbage daily as well. It has become clear to me that it is not possible to document the conversations I have with people in Traffic Island Edible Landscape other than in words recalling the conversations afterwards. I try but even when trying to be discrete shifts in the conversations occur as I try to document them. It is actually a relief taking the decision that being present in the landscape, daily photographs, this diary, and what I collect from others is how I will make the work part of the research. Staying true to how the work is conducted, insisting on being an insider, though a reflective one.

In July the AAA is closed for summer holidays. I keep coming once a week to collect garbage. At this point I am considering if I should contact the AAA’s janitors and ask if I can buy their expertise and have them look after the landscape during the holiday. It seems completely wrong and I reject the thought. Actually it is probably here that the peculiarities of the methods that I work with stand out sharpest.


Wednesday, 6 June 2012

The day started with my daily photograph of the landscape from Noerreport 15.

After lunch I connected the water hose to make watering the landscape easier. The sky has been threatening with rain since Friday, but it has stayed that way, and despite of my persistent watering the soil is completely dry.

The watering process works very well in terms of getting a close look at all the plants and considering their future care. It takes me almost two hours to water the whole landscape. I have in the past month watered so much and in order not to interfere with traffic I have trodden most places in the landscape. More and more I think it seems that it seems natural to make a trampled path through the middle of the landscape, so it is possible to water and do other work from there. I recall how Camilla Berner made paths in her Black Box Garden.

I continue watering and start moving through the middle of the landscape in parallel with the traffic. As always I have my traffic shirt with the logo of an edible landscape on, and today I have the green water jugs as well. Aesthetically, I’m pretty happy with water jugs – they are doing something good when they are placed in the traffic island along the plants here in the middle of town – even when just walking with them – maybe it is because they are so atypical in this public space!

Throughout the watering I am really just watering and then I greet some people who cross the landscape. It always strikes me that I really ought to know something more about plants when people come and talk. As well I must figure out what kind of weeds they are that increasingly grow in the landscape. I also pass some people I suddenly think that I knew, but really I think it is just that we now have seen each other so many times in Noerreport.


Thursday, 7 June 2012

Today, it rained! Finally!

Started the day by taking the daily picture. After lunch I took pictures within the landscape just wearing my normal clothes. Got a chat with one of the staff from the AAA canteen. He said that the landscape was “nice”! We talked about how the Aarhus Municipality had allowed the landscape to be established, about pollution, and that I hope for a collaboration with the canteen at AAA after summer when there are more crops to harvest in the landscape.

At the moment I think a lot about whether the traffic shirt makes it easier or harder to get into conversation with people. There is of course an overriding consideration that I should not make dangerous situations for either motorists in Noerreport or for myself. I alternate between thinking that the shirt is doing something good and at the same time that it makes me look too much like a person hired by the municipality. We are so used to employees taking care of our outdoor areas that it can be crucial to the conversation if I am perceived as a “private” person doing something, or as someone who comes from the “municipality” and is paid to care for an area.


Friday, 8 June 2012

On the radio, a woman says that our cities are now so clean that at Aarhus School of Architecture they grow vegetables on a road with very heavy traffic.


Wednesday, 13 June 2012

The borage is in full flower, and there are lots of bumblebees. It was one of the smallest plants when we planted the landscape in April, and today it’s flourishing beautifully. I didn’t know borage before this.

I wonder for the first time whether I should have worked more with the plants and the landscape aesthetically. I shouldn’t.


Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Saw a bumblebee.


Thursday, 14 June 2012

Today I updated the website. The last week where it has rained has given me time to consider what has happened around the landscape. Watering the landscape has in the recent weeks been so time consuming that I am late in updating images and texts. At the same time carrying water on stone and asphalt has been so hard to my one leg that I am limping – a joke in a way, since I have not given the physical aspect of the realization of the work many thoughts beyond the digging of hard soil carried out with the students. It is good to watch the pictures and I suddenly become aware that there are some who have participated in the events that I never really talked to.


Friday, 15 June 2012

Was at the AAA this morning to take my daily photograph, though I had a meeting elsewhere. Took time to water the mint as well – they are waiting to be planted, and it must be done in the coming week. On my way through town in the morning I meet my dentist and in the afternoon I meet former colleague. They both asked about how the landscape was doing, a bit surprisingly as I never told them about the work nor have I seen them at any of the gatherings there. The former colleague even knew that we had harvested and had dinner.

It seems so simple now with the landscape. As if all the issues that making it in the middle of the road raised, have somehow been obliterated. The landscape has been here for a while, and has merged into its surroundings.


Monday, 18 June 2012

Today the sign at Noerreport 17 was gone! Looked around for it to see whether it was lying as waste somewhere, but it was not to be seen. The screws that anchored the sign still sat in the wooden bar where the sign was installed, but not even small pieces of the Plexiglas that the sign had been placed in was to be found.

Then came an email from a student who was formerly a gardener but was now studying on her last year to become agricultural technician (jordbrugsteknolog). We met for fifteen minutes in later the landscape and talked. It turned out that the Traffic Island Edible Landscape is mentioned in an exam assignment at a business school. In the context of the oral exam, the advantages and disadvantages of this kind of planting are discussed.

The student had to relate this discussion to a small soil area in Noerreport 24. We walked the landscape together and talked about the different choices made.

After the meeting I took photographs in Noerreport from where the sign was removed. I asked one of the students from the AAA who crossed the street with a model of a building if he had seen the sign lying around. He had not, but he remembered that it had hung in its place two days ago. I am considering whether I should put up a new one.

The landscape otherwise seems well (could not help myself and remove a flattened plastic bottle when passing through it) – most of the plants seems to have established themselves.


Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Today Krienke came by with more mint. He ‘phoned some days ago and said that he thought that it looked as if the work with the landscape was stalled or stopped. I told him that the majority of my time had been spent on transporting water to the landscape to ensure that the plants did not die, and also to seize the opportunities that arose for dialogue about the landscape. We agreed to meet today, Thursday, as he had some comments on the plant list in general, as well as to the edibility of forget-me-not. It turned out that he wanted to know my reference for forget-me-not being edible. I told him that I had used it in a previous project where two landscape architect students from the then Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University had helped to make the plant selection. We talked a little about pragmatism and the case landed by acceptance, as it was only the flowers that I had communicated as edible.

I had also prepared for planting after our conversation about edible plants that had self-seeded in the landscape. He had also brought some new mints with him. We went through the landscape and talked about the different plants. Afterwards we talked some more indoors, but the talk went far beyond the landscape and the plants, so it ended up that mint wasn’t planted today either!

It was fine, and while I thought it would be good for me to have a little more plant knowledge, I thought that my perspective is different. For me it’s more of a point or a moment when in the meeting with the landscape one’s perspective and view of the surroundings and one’s own possibilities expand.


Wednesday, 20 June 2012

The AAA’s carpenter has made ​​a new sign for the Traffic Island Edible Landscape! I had thought that I had to do it over the weekend, so it felt very much like a gift from heaven when passing Noerreport and there suddenly stood a new one! I took pictures of the signs on both sides of the road – it struck me that after the former sign were destroyed I had actually forgotten to document it.


Thursday, 21 June 2012

Today the landscape is weeded and I finally managed to plant the mint. I dig up a lot of weeds, and make a big pile at the west end of the landscape. A woman who works at the AAA asks me if I can put some specific plants aside for her, because she wants to use them in a salad. It warms my heart, and I think actually that I ought to open my own horizons and make a salad too – I must do (but I am not sure that I will let my children eat it)!

I talk to different people. A young man comments on whether or not I should put in signs up with names on, so one can read the plant names while being in the landscape, if one does not know them. I tell him that I have signs, but that I have had no time to finish them yet. I suggest him that he could help. He laughs and says that he has no time.

I think actually that I found out how I can make the job with the landscape easier by structuring it in different areas. It also gives me a solution in terms of the self-seeded plants in the landscape, as they can be structured in areas on equal terms with the other plants.

As I was finishing the day’s work I leave the pile of weeds in the landscape. I think it is ok, in a way a trace of the on-going work.


Friday, 22 June 2012

This morning I am in Aarhus early to take my daily photograph of the landscape. It’s pouring down, and the cars and traffic lights make beautiful reflections on the road.


Saturday, 23 June 2012

When we established the landscape, it was still too cold to plant beans and nasturtium, and then time just passed …  actually thought that it would have been possible to plant it around the 1st of June, but by then most effort went into watering the landscape. Today at the weekly Saturday market at Ingerslevs Boulevard I bought nasturtium from “Solsikken (sunflower)”, which also supplied plants back in April to the landscape. Afterwards a couple of hours are spent on planting as well as looking into some other things related to the landscape.

The best experience during the day was a bus ride through the city while carrying the plants. Something happens when suddenly one enters a bus or goes through the inner city with a lot of fine plants and it’s not about sale. In a small scale it creates the same “image” or spaces that the landscape at Noerreport does – I actually think that that’s it!


Monday, 25 June 2012

Pictures and removal of garbage. Saw as well that the Tropaeolum majus that I planted on Saturday are well. Now I just have to make the two bamboo racks for two locations where they are missing.


Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Today I had a meeting with a journalist, who writes for a new business newspaper to be published for the first time in August. She is trained as art historian and is now working as a journalist. We started talking while walking through the landscape, and I talked about working with it and the considerations involved. Beforehand I got some questions: 1) When you want to create a debate about the edible landscape in Noerreport, do you yourself have an opinion on whether to eat the vegetables or not – or do you only facilitate the debate? 2) Have you experienced any obstacles before the edible landscape was established in Noerreport – e.g. with the municipality or other? – Is there any legislation in this area that one must remember to take into account? 3) Is there someone who you think might be interesting to include in the article, which can look at the project with some other eyes or another angle? E.g. someone from the Art Committee in Aarhus Municipality, the National Arts Council or Fristads Kansas, which has helped to support it?

It was a good talk. Talking about the landscape and the questions that I was confronted with opens my own perspective and makes me aware of new things. One of the things highlighted today was how well I think it turned out to work with the students when establishing Traffic Island Edible Landscape. The opening of the work so that they also could affect some of the final decisions was really good! – And it was in line with the spirit of openness, discussion and dialogue that I want to be part of the work. My aesthetic preferences did not come to stand alone and dialogue between us about the final selection – colours, edibility, the opening was good.

Further, I came to reflect upon the fact that I have not encouraged people to help with the maintenance to the same extent as in the past when I have made other works. It became clear to me that this is related to the whole security aspect due to the work being placed in a road space. In connection with the establishment of Traffic Island Edible Landscape it felt okay to involve others in the work. Because of the safety aspects of working in the landscape without the barriers around it, it seems in retrospect that I have not grasped the opportunities that have been there when people have been open to offer help.

I ended the conversation with the journalist by agreeing that I should pass on information about who in the municipality a citizen could contact if they wanted to realize such a project.


Monday, 2 July 2012

After having been a few days in Bonn, where I had the opportunity to discuss Traffic Island Edible Landscape in a forum of professors dealing with urban landscapes, I am back at the AAA to take my daily picture again. The scenery is fine, and from Noerreport 17 it seems that there is no garbage in the landscape. Maybe it is just hidden among the plants, but it means that I can wait until tomorrow to go there and take a closer look. During the day I see different people stopping at the sign in Noerreport 17.


Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Today I continued establishing a path within the landscape. The plants have really grown and areas with flowering cilantro/coriander and borage were quite beautiful set against the buildings of the AAA and the rest of the surrounding city. The weeds have also grown well, even though it was no more than a week ago, where lots of them were removed. I start weeding from the one end of the landscape and in a few hours I have doubled the pile of weeds that I have kept since last Thursday. Also I put up the bamboo sticks that were lacking. My strategy was to work from the middle of the landscape using the beginning path and from there to the boards of the landscape. I try to create total areas of similar plants, so they come to appear as fields. Along the way, I changed my strategy. The various plants were ordered within different areas throughout and one could begin to see a structure within the landscape. Then I placed plant signs with Danish and Latin plant names – over a month they have just been in my office without me being able resolve how they should be positioned. It was pretty good to get them in the ground and use them to somehow mark my path.

Through today’s work I got a pretty good idea of ​​which animals use the landscape at the moment. In the western end of the landscape a group of ants live – I think they might have lived there all the time. Then Rumex sanguineus had lice; later I looked together with Krienke for black ants as they apparently keep lice as livestock, but they seemed to be “free lice” in this case. In both borage and coriander there were a lot of bumblebees, and then came a blackbird looking for strawberries. The worst thing is that I get quite excited when the birds come to the landscape looking after insects and berries, but to it’s pretty nerve-wracking because of the traffic, when they fly away again. The situation somehow is similar to when people are in the landscape – I somehow feel it is my responsibility to ensure that cars are not hitting them while we are talking. It’s a little scary so at home I myself have come to feel between the cars!

Around noon I started gathering the garden waste. Half of it was put in a plastic box that I had brought along and when I was about to take my bag and go, a woman crossed the road and came towards me. She told me that she could see the site from her apartment and was following how the landscape evolved; she thought that I needed a bag for all the garden waste, which I had collected. She said that it was really nice to follow the development of the landscape from her window. She had taken careful note of the “rasp” and explained that she thought that there might have been some seeds in the soil that we had delivered. I told her about the path that I was trying to make and about gathering the plants in different areas. She told me about parks in France – I think Paris – where she had been quite taken by the fact that a few places in plant beds had ornamental plants different types of beet and beetroot, placed there because they had beautiful leaves. She mentioned that she had taken some pictures, and that she would have copied the idea if she had had a garden of her own. She got my e-mail address and would send a picture – I really hope she does!

(Remember that you later receive a picture)

Then the plant waste was carried away – I had to make two trips. I thought that there was something hilarious about the scenario – me with a huge backpack and a giant plastic box as well as a plastic bag with plant waste. But during the day a group of gardeners nearby had trimmed beech hedges along Noerreport, and no one came to their aid. I actually think that there is something disarming about this amateurish approach towards the work that opens new situations.

Then lunch. There was a summer holiday atmosphere in the city, and the traffic seemed somehow quite moderate. After lunch I took pictures. When I finished and was about to go Krienke appeared at the opposite end of the landscape. I got hold of him and we talked about the mint being planted and the day’s work. He said that “hyssop” was really nice and in that moment it occurred to me that I had confused it with oregano. We talked about how I could prolong the flowering season for both borage and forget-me-not and I tried discreetly to remove the oregano signs without Krienke noticing it  – perhaps I succeeded… I think not….

And then a woman stopped in the traffic island and asked if the landscape was meant as a provocation. She told me that she lived with views towards the landscape and had seen it being established. I told her that I hoped that the landscape would get passers-by to think about how we want our cities – should they be places where we could grow our own food – but as well that I thought the plants would be beautiful here in the middle of the city. She told that she saw many who stopped by the landscape and looked. She also said that she was involved in the care of the “stone plant bed” in the botanical garden, and she thought it was a good work we did. (I wondered if it mattered whether it was “I” or “we”.)

The day in the landscape ended by making an appointment with Krienke about meeting Friday morning and going through the landscape together, putting in the last plant signs and cropping both borage, forget-me- and coriander in the hope of extending their flowering season. Perhaps as well to put up the plant signs for the self-sown edible weeds in the landscape that I would like to keep. It will be necessary to be extra aware that we adhere to the rule about only being a half hour in the landscape and then having a break and so forth.


Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Today I was only briefly in the landscape. During the day I saw from my office a few people stopping at the sign in Noerreport 17 to read it.


Friday, 6 July 2012

Started the day in the landscape gathering garbage and taking pictures. The sky was grey and heavy, but the cloudburst that was announced held off (thank God). I adjusted a last oregano sign that was incorrectly placed. Otherwise I followed my plan and organized plants in areas by constantly walking the same way through the landscape to make the trodden path. It also seemed relatively easy to remove weeds – or perhaps I should rather say undesirable plants (remember your beautiful book about weeds). Perhaps because the plants now have reached a certain size the soil does not dry out to the same extent as earlier? Bronze fennel was really nice, and even asparagus seems to have got hold. I had actually given up on asparagus but now I am quite confident that it will survive!

Krienke arrived around ten and I picked up a work shirt for him too. He showed me how I should prune borage, and we were moving through the landscape. Along the way we removed the withered parts of forget-me-not and talked about the various edible plants that are self-sown in the landscape. After we cut the first area with borage and there was a nice pile of cut flowers, a woman riding a bicycle approached us and started to talk. She said that she was very happy about the plants and really enjoyed them. Then she asked who had made it. I told her that a group of architect students and I had made it. I asked her if she lived in the area, and she told me that she did not, but that she had started to cycle this way because she thought it was so fine with the plants. And then she told me that she actually had stopped now because she had noticed us in the yellow clothing and had thought that perhaps we were about to remove the plants. She said as well that she had thought that this was not okay, and then she had stopped, and before she had time to think more, she had gone out to us. (We talked a little about the landscape, and I told her about the website too.)

Then Krienke and I returned to the pruning work, and when finished cropping borage, we planted two areas with rucola and cress. These should both produce really fine flowers, and the cress sown should be able to reach a height of one metre. Then a colleague who I know from the AAA crossed the road. She stopped and said she simply thought it was such an uplifting and inspiring project! We talked a little about the work with the landscape and how the plants really were now growing well after it had been a bit slow for some time. I mentioned that I had started to think about how I spend so much time taking care of the landscape, but that it not was the world’s most comprehensive gardening effort that I offered my children at home.

Krienke and I continued working and piled together the plant waste. And then it started to rain! We took a quick last walk through the landscape, where we noted the names on the edible plants that were self-grown, and then we went to my office to finish the conversation.


Saturday, 13 July 2012

Today I took the daily survey picture and collected garbage. It was quickly done and actually just to make sure that the landscape is fine and that it is not neglected.


Tuesday, 24 July 2012

For the first time in over a week the “daily” picture of Traffic Island Edible Landscape was taken. Where usually the picture is taken in the morning, it was now early afternoon. Some of the routines associated with the landscape are not always possible to do completely consistently, but I think that it is okay and actually quite complementary with the nature of work.

In the past week it has been mixed weather with both sun and rain, so going through the landscape was just to remove waste and check that the plants were okay. The nasturtium is growing well and one of the tasks that awaits me when I return from summer vacation is binding them up so they do not grow along the ground as they do now. A few of them actually had flowers; it was quite fine. A few bronze fennel have bloomed too, and they were really beautiful. Borage was however quite faded and withered, and cilantro also seemed so as its flowering was finished.

There was only a little garbage, and it was easy just to pick it up and then take pictures. As I finished and walked along I discovered that the sign at Noerreport 17 was gone again. I am curious to know who it is that removes it and why. At the same time I can not quite make up my mind whether I should settle on just using one sign now, or if I should insist that there should continue to be one on Noerreport 17 as well. I took pictures and I am now considering whether there should be another new sign made!


Tuesday, 31 July 2012

I am in Aarhus early to make my weekly holiday landscape check. The agreement with the Nature and Environment Department is that I maintain the area during the period I use the traffic island. (I think) it makes sense, and the maintenance phase is as important as the establishing of landscape. I take my survey picture and then went down to collect garbage. There was a single pizza tray, which I removed, but otherwise the landscape was actually fine. I bumped into a colleague from the AAA who I guessed had been at the school to prepare the opening for August 1st – tomorrow. I have to adjust to collecting garbage now that I’ve been away from it! Then by bus home, the trip took about 3 hours of which 20 minutes were time spent working on the landscape.


Wednesday, 1 August 2012

This morning both signs were missing. Yesterday when I was in Aarhus and taking pictures the signs stood in their place.


Wednesday, 8 August 2012

I rethought my sign strategy and made new signs to put up in Noerreport. I borrowed a machine from the AAA’s carpenter but it took a lot of a time to figure out how to make it work. It turned out that it was just one little button, which should be turned to change the direction of rotation! As I stood and fumbled with the sign-holder a man stopped and commented that it apparently was a challenging job that I was making there … I told him that my sign had been destroyed and that I was about to put a new one up. I told him about the strategy to make it even more fragile than it had been. He asked what it was for a project I was doing and I told him that along with some students from AAA I had established an edible landscape. He said “What?” … I repeated “it´s an edible landscape” and then he repeated that he thought that was what I had said. I told him about the landscape, that it had been established in April, and that I was taking care of it.


Thursday, 9 August 2012

Tied up the nasturtium and continued the work of treading the path.


Friday, 10 August 2012

Continued the work of treading the path after having updated the plant list. A colleague from the AAA stopped and asked about what there actually was to eat now within the landscape. I said that during summer there had been raspberry. He commented on the herbs and ate a bit of salvia.


Monday, 13 August 2012

Talked to a German construction worker, who works on the reorganizing of heating pipes in Studsgade, about where they will dig further. After lunch I went to the landscape. I put up new signs up – I managed to find white thumbtacks. Then I gathered my pile of plant waste. I wanted to continue Friday´s weeding in the landscape, but the sun was burning and the traffic was too heavy so that I quickly stopped.


Tuesday, 14 August 2012

A couple with a baby carriage stopped and read the new sign at Noerreport 17.


Monday, 20 August 2012

Today the sun is burning and it is sizzling hot. The landscape is extremely dry and the soil completely hard. Many of the plants are in desperate need of water, and if it ‘s not going to rain later today or at least early tomorrow, I have to start watering again! Within the landscape there are large areas of withered plants, a few have withered due to the heat, but many have just withered naturally after having bloomed and set seed. The strawberry plants are uplifting though, when just planted it all looked slightly shrunken with just a few plants, but if the landscape is to exist another season, I think that the strawberry plants will actually form a full ground cover in many places – this would be nice! In the landscape I took a picture of a butterfly that had arrived. Sage is good, and today I spoke with a couple of colleagues about how to use it – my best proposal was to use it in pasta dishes, but they mentioned “saltimbocca”, which I haver never tasted. Another colleague said without thinking about it he had eaten a raspberry as he passed through the landscape –he used the expression that it somehow had “invited” him to it.

The new signs are still in their places, and actually during the day there were a few colleagues who asked about them.

I collected garbage in the landscape. There were a lot of cigarette butts, a McDonald’s bag and a McDonald’s cup, and some different other things. Actually think that much of the garbage located in the landscape is something taken by the wind from other places and then captured by the plants when it comes flying. Finally I carried the collected garbage and a bag from last week with plant waste to the AAA’s containers.

Around half past three I noticed from my window a car parked car by the sign in Noerreport 17 and that a man with sunglasses was looking at the landscape.


Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Today it was only a brief visit to the landscape to take pictures. I passed the German construction worker – greeted – and he suggested that I stayed a bit to talk to his colleague who was responsible for the overall excavation work in Noerreport.

I waited and then he presented me to his colleague. I told him about the landscape in the traffic island and mentioned that I had spoken to his colleague a few days earlier, and that I just wanted to hear the timeframe for the excavation work in Noerreport and whether they would cross the landscape. He told that he was waiting for the final digging permission, and that at this point he did not know what was possible. Furthermore, he was unable to say when he would know.

I waited. Then we went out in Noerreport to look at the area. It resulted in a talk about how dirty Aarhus has gradually become. He mentioned that he actually thought that Aarhus had become even dirtier than Athens. He talked about the excavation, about a stream that formerly had run through the area and the various old constructions in the ground. By the excavation at Studsgade one could see in Noerreport how the road formerly was located one metre lower than today. I ended by showing him the sign information for the project.


Thursday, 16 August 2012

This morning when arriving at Noerreport 15 to take pictures of the landscape someone said “Guten Morgen, Marie” up from the excavation in Studsgade. I was completely uplifted – the public space is a generous place for making new acquaintances, if one spends time there and has time to talk. And the new signs still hang in Noerreport so I become quite optimistic about new alliances as well of strategies of fragility rather the robustness.

At eleven minutes past twelve pm I note at a random piece of paper on my desk that a man about fifty stopped by the sign in Noerreport 17 and read.


Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Today it had rained. The soil was suddenly fine; what a remarkable difference from last Monday, where I thought that it was time to do some watering. It was dry weather when I began my work in the landscape at around ten o’clock. I connected the hose to lay it out in Noerreport and also fetched the water jugs, and then I started the watering work. It somehow seemed a bizarre project because the ground was soft, but it seemed like a good idea to water the landscape thoroughly as the water actually did sink into the ground rather than flowing off the surface ending on the road lanes. I noticed that people in the passing cars seemed friendly towards the irrigation taking place. When the traffic almost stops in the westbound lane the people in the cars suddenly seemed fairly close. The situation of watering somehow then becomes too self-conscious.


Thursday – Sunday, 23 – 26 August 2012



Monday, 27 August 2012

Survey picture. At ten o’clock I met a PhD fellow, and we agreed to meet in Noerreport have a coffee. We considered drinking our coffee in the landscape but decided to sit in a window niche in Noerreport 18. After having finished our coffee, we went into the landscape. It was actually very nice, both the situation and the “image” of it. We had our coffee mugs in our hands, such “brought from home” coffee mugs, which most probably have in their workplace.

We went through the landscape, chatted and looked at the plants. I talked about the cilantro, how it had been a real pleasure, both because of its beauty and its amazing fragrance that was activated by even the slightest touch. But even though it had dried almost completely it is still quite lovely; it has some very fine seed capsules.

We talked about how long the landscape will exist, and I said that it probably depends on when digging work for the light rail begins. At the same time, it is a matter awaiting my final decision. Is it good that the landscape exists after winter? Would it make sense to relocate it because of the new traffic connections? It will be interesting to see how the plants will overwinter and also their growth when spring comes.


Tuesday, 28 August 2012

I work at home today and so the garbage at the landscape remains uncollected.  Collecting garbage is properly one of the most important aspects of the work.


A note found

At twenty-four minutes past two pm I see from my window that a man in his 40s reads the sign at Noerreport 17.


Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Take survey picture at about eleven o´clock. There are significant differences in traffic depending on the time of day, it is of course obvious, but nevertheless it is worth saying. The landscape was fine and there was not really very much garbage. It has been good with the rain.


Thursday, 30 August 2012

Today I took picture by eight o’clock. There was quite a lot of traffic, but because of the traffic lights’ positions on both sides of the landscape and the way they are set to switch, it is rare that there is congestion in both directions unless there is very heavy traffic. The road in Studsgade is being fixed and the huge sand area revealed by digging is being closed again. It is overwhelming what massive amounts of sand there are below the surface of our cities.

It’s a fine, overcast day. Once I’ve taken my survey picture, I decide to photograph in the landscape itself. Because of the rebuilding of Aarhus harbour and the resulting traffic diversions, there are huge road signs on either side of my landscape. They make a good barrier against the traffic while I’m photographing. The landscape also seems protected now the plants have grown, but that’s not something you should be fooled by.

As I photographed I became aware of two small sparrows, which ran around among the plants. I tried to capture them in a picture, but with no luck. It ‘s a bit like the conversations in the landscape, the moment I try (however discreetly) to record, good conversation stops. I keep considering whether I should record these things anyway, but I think that it is better to continue as I do now, and then to become more precise about why this kind of documenting makes sense. And then borage is beginning to bloom again – it’s a joy as I thought it was missing a period – though I was actually beginning to rejoice that you can see the time in the landscape and how the various plants, each have their own lives! As I photographed, I collected the garbage that I passed; a small paper bag, a Snickers wrappers and a piece of plastic. Maybe it’s very good to go in normal clothes to pick up garbage – I was wondering if it just once has occurred that a person passing through the landscape has picked up even one piece of garbage.

The students making the final plant list introduced borage. I have wondered how it is actually used in food, as I never had experienced it. And then last weekend I had a chance to taste it in a dish where the flowers were used as well as the stems had been cooked with some liquid for flavour.

At the end of September I am to give a lecture as part of a discussion about Practice and Research, which is conducted here at the AAA. Confronted with the borage I was reminded that it would be fine to serve some tapas made ​​by crops harvested from the landscape. I have previously spoken to the AAA´s canteen manager about this. It would be a fine occasion to make something together using crops from Traffic Island Edible Landscape.


August – September 2012

August is quiet and the landscape has really grown. I spend a lot of time maintaining and taking care of the landscape and notice that the passage through the landscape is minimal. By September the students return to the AAA again and pedestrian traffic across Noerreport resumes. Throughout these months I invite partners from Aarhus Municipality to different events where they work. Traffic Island Edible Landscape is discussed. I am unable to find a form so that they can participate. Sometimes I myself think that I participate in too few things arranged by others, but I am tied up by my own work. Still I notice that there are different people who have seen Traffic Island Edible Landscape or, in other contexts, have heard of the landscape and approach me. I consider it an important task to respond to these inquiries.


Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Armed with hoe and rake I went to the landscape at ten o’clock. A single sparrow, which went around in the western end of the landscape, flew off when I came. The edges towards the road lanes are over grown with grass tufts and the edge of the landscape is blurred. I have the past few weeks thought that I would be use the autumn holiday to make the landscape present itself more sharply again. If the landscape is to have another season, I consider to plant strawberry on all edges so that they can form a ground cover and ensure that I will not be so close to the cars when weeding, but can do most of the work from the middle of the landscape! I spent two hours on chopping grass tufts and I think I did about half of the landscape. It came to look really nice, and when finished, I actually think that it will become very clear how much the plants have changed since they were put in. The grass tufts fill two bags, which were very heavy because of the soil.

Around noon I went for lunch and I decided to let the bags with plant debris remain in the landscape meanwhile – the landscape has a good appearance when you can see that it is used!

When I came back from lunch, I thought that I could work a few more hours and do the last edges, but the traffic seemed suddenly too violent and it was not possible to stay longer in the landscape working. I carried the waste bags away and brought the hoe and rake to my office.


Monday, 8 October 2012

Went by the landscape early to take pictures as I am attending a course and so I am unable to inspect the landscape in the coming days.

A colleague says that the students properly just look after it.


Friday, 2 November 2012

After reading about Traffic Island Edible Landscape an urban planner from Montpellier says at a conference that it has been very strange to see images of the landscape, because the road seemed so peaceful.


October – November 2012

October I continue the maintenance work in the landscape. I’m thinking more and more about continuing to work with the landscape for an additional year and, if so, how I have to organize it.


Late November: I have a meting with the dean at AAA again. I am considering whether I should continue Traffic Island Edible Landscape for another season, but before bringing the request to the partners in Aarhus Municipality I think that it is important to know if I still have the school’s support for the work. At my request the response is something like: “It would be a shame if it was to exist for only one year”.


December 2012

In December the practical work with the landscape is minimal, and I have come into a routine where I start my days by taking picture of the landscape, and when I cross the Noerreport on the way to my office I collect garbage in the landscape. This part is still very confronting for me (and I think for others as well even though people try to be discreet). More and more this aspect seems really important as it as it somehow seems to create a misalignment in the understanding and the “images” we have of who does what in the public domain.

It is at this time uncertain what will happen with Traffic Island Edible Landscape!


Tuesday, 11 December 2012

To save time, I gather rubbish on the way to my office.


Friday, 21 December 2012

The Christmas holidays have started today, and it’s really the first time since establishing Traffic Island Edible Landscape, that I am not considering coming by to collect garbage. Two of the people who helped turning soil over when we established the landscape are doing something at the pedestrian road  – we greet each other.


Tuesday, 23 December 2012

There’s a lot of snow when we drive down Noerreport. We can’t stop. It could be the most beautiful picture of the year we’ve just driven past.


January 2013

The snow has gone. Two bamboo racks have overturned. I picked them up and carried them to my office. Also some garbage has come into view – but actually less than I had imagined there would be – I gathered it and throw it away.


Tuesday, 19 February 2013

I collected garbage in the landscape. There are a number of small pieces of different things. I noticed yesterday that there was a paper cup with lid and drinking straw – it’s not there anymore, maybe it has blown away or someone has removed it. Suddenly there was someone shouting my name; I turned towards the sound and saw a colleague happily waving from Noerreport 20.  I took pictures in the direction of the harbour and towards Randersvej. Just by the waterfront a huge building is taking shape, it was not there when I started to work on the landscape.


Tuesday, 26 February 2013

I took overview pictures and collected garbage in the landscape on my way to the office. There was not much garbage, but it is very visible, and in Noerreport there is an astonishing amount in the hedges next to the school.


Thursday, 7 March 2013

The sun shone and in the canteen at AAA a woman said that she is looking forward to see how the landscape looks this year.


Friday, 8 March 2013

A colleague said he is looking forward to see the landscape this spring. He thought that many of the plants might have died because of salting of the road.


Friday, 15 March 2013

I took pictures of the landscape and collected garbage. There were many cigarette butts and I considered whether I should rake one day. It was difficult to see which plants would survive the winter. The sun  shone and the signs cast shadows. I wondered if it is actually right to take pictures now.


Thursday, 11 April 2013

Arriving in Noerreport I noticed that there is roadwork, and a lot of digging equipment. I took pictures and saw that the landscape had been reduced by one third and that the construction sign that formerly was placed outside the landscape now has been moved and placed within the landscape. It is hard to see whether the reduction of the area will continue but the traffic has changed. It seems like passersby in Noerreport suddenly see the landscape again.  During the day several people commented on the reduction.


Sunday, 5 May 2013

I was in Aarhus weeding and collecting garbage in the landscape. Most of the plants that were not removed during the reduction of the landscape have survived, and it seems that they are growing well.


Friday, 10 May 2013

During a presentation in relation to the Edible Estates: Prototype Garden #14 a student mentioned that he does not think that the garden in Hammel will contrast in the same way that this landscape did. He mentioned the edible plants next to the passing trucks as something spectacular. He thought it would be difficult to accomplish something as spectacular in an area of single family houses where everyone has gardens. It seemed to be the general understanding by the students that reaching the same affect of awareness from passersby will be difficult. Instead of following the discussion and actually hearing more about how they experienced Traffic Island Edible Landscape I somehow managed to close the conversation. Afterwards a colleague told me that it was actually a compliment to Traffic Island Edible Landscape that the students were expressing. I damn myself for missing out on important knowledge, just because I might be afraid of critique on the course running now.


Friday, 21 June 2013

In the canteen a colleague commented that maybe it’s okay that the landscape is not maintained – that it is the conditions for many plantings – that we are unable to tend them all the time.


Sunday, 23 June 2013

I was weeding, collecting garbage and photographing in the landscape. I noticed that sometimes the aesthetics of the photographs seduces me and it becomes difficult to say what the actual work is.


Monday, 24 June 2013

The atmosphere in Noerreport has totally changed from yesterday. The landscape has been parcelled into pieces. I photograph and photograph.


Thursday, 29 August 2013

Some days ago I photographed in the landscape and I found blackcurrants beneath the construction sign. By mistake the camera saved none of the pictures, and today the currants are gone. I wonder whom took them; I think it may have been people, as they were removed in a gentle way, and there were no remains, as I imagine that there would have been had it been a bird.


Monday, 16 September 2013

The American artist Bonnie Fortune visited me in Aarhus to conduct an interview about my work and see both the Traffic Island Edible Landscape and the work Edible Estates: Prototype Garden #14: Aarhus that I have organized for the American artist Fritz Haeg. Fortune is presently living in Denmark and writing a book about artists from the Nordic countries working with environmental and ecological issues in their work. She is conducting interviews with the artists Camilla Berner, Niels Norman and some others as well. I showed her the landscape in the Traffic Island and she photographed it. Afterwards we went to my office and talked; it was easy, and so many things could just be said without further explanation. Besides kinship in ways of thinking, her visit made me think of the American artist Brett Bloom who is also living in Denmark presently.


Wednesday, 18 December 2013

In the afternoon I spoke with the school’s communication chief about both the garden in Hammel and an edible landscape. He mentioned that it was unfortunate that the landscape in the traffic island was destroyed so people didn’t experience how it would have been this year after the plants had had time to establish themselves. He also asked whether I have spoken to the employees in the administration about the landscape, since they had experienced it at close range, being able to see it from their work desks. I told him that the idea has crossed my mind. I asked if he thinks I could still do so and he did. Now I considered conducting interviews seriously but then whether actually it should be someone other than me, who should do it. In the evening, I visited Kunsthal Aarhus, where there were various small publishers selling their publications. Artist Lasse Krog, whom I studied together with at The Jutland Academy of Fine Art, was there selling his (2005) book I skoddernes verden (In the world of the cigarette butts). I bought the book and we talked about collecting waste with and without a uniform. I mentioned that to me collecting waste is extraordinarily over my limits of tolerance if I wear no uniform. Krog agreed, and I came to think of artist Camilla Berner and one of her first texts in her blog diary /Black Box Garden, where she mentioned that wearing a uniform make the situation and how exposed she feels easier.


Friday, 20 December 2013

Arrived at work at eight o’clock. The last holes where beech hedges had been removed months ago are being re-planted. The area has in the past months been a favourite walking route for students and staff from the AAA crossing Noerreport. Four people were working, and I recognized one, a younger woman who four days ago was planting right at the intersection of Noerreport and Nørregade. I wondered again if I should take care of the entire landscape in the traffic island but again I decided that besides collecting garbage in the entire landscape, it is only the garden that I maintain.


Sunday, 22 December 2013

Last pictures of this year.


Sunday, 13 January 2014

On my way to office, I saw clearly that there was a lot of waste in the landscape. I knew that I must collect garbage soon but it can’t be today. I had to write. Later in the office, looking out the window, I notice that it was snowing. Even this morning I thought that it might not be snow this year. (Except for one day when I didn’t reacted fast enough to take pictures of it…) Looking out the window later it snowed a lot, and a little later again it seemed that the snow is melting fast and I ran to Noerreport 15 and take photographs.


Saturday, 8 February 2014

I was at work today, Saturday. When I work on weekends it reminds me always of how I often have done this in the past, weekends, holidays – that the work I’m doing now actually was un-funded or funded by unskilled work in other contexts, earlier. It is long since I have been collecting garbage. Since the New Year I have had a bad consciousness about not doing it, and when then I have been ready to do it, the waste had either been blown away or suddenly was covering with snow. The other day I passed through the landscape with another employee at AAA. She told me that she and some other colleagues had discussed whether all the plants were now dead, but she had seen the new sprouts. I told her that the only thing I maintain now is the garden under construction sign where there are two fine black currant bushes, a large fennel, mint and strawberries. I really hope that the garden exists until the summer; it will be fine to tend it in the coming months while writing the thesis. I took pictures as a car drove through the landscape. The garden only exists because it is fenced off.


Sunday, 6 April 2014

I have decided that I will keep the garden under construction sign until it is either gone or I’m not at the AAA anymore, and therefore I was in Aarhus to spend a couple of hours tending it. I was considering that maybe I ought to sit in my office and write but my thoughts are clearer when I’m working, and a lot that seems challenging when writing, is pretty obvious here. The paths through the landscape have in recent months become broader and more diffuse but beneath the construction sign the plants really thrive. Fennel grows here for the third year – the same with lovage and red-veined dock. The strawberries were well too. A lot of dandelions are growing alongside the others in the garden but they are relatively simple to remove when the soil is soft. I thought of a book I once found with drawings of beautiful plants, weeds, but made in another time they might just have been called crops. The strawberries have grown significantly and they have grown entirely together with mint. In the landscape outside of the garden, only a few fennels, sage, celery and rhubarb, have survived. I am considering whether I should move the crops outside the garden into the garden but I think it would be like giving up. On the other hand I keep thinking that I want to organize around them, and it is quite a contrast to only to have gathered garbage in the landscape since late summer 2013. There was a lot more traffic than I expected – a lot of cars but also people who pass through the landscape. It struck me that it’s the first Sunday of the month and that the shops therefore might be open. I weeded both within the garden but as well I took the edges on the other side of the fence. In a few places there are no plants, and it was tempting to plant something new, but it seems wrong, like it would be a new work I would then begin, and not just the same in transformation. I could take the plants from outside the garden in the landscape and bring them into the garden, or as it strikes me now, maybe I could part a few of the existing plants in the garden so they cover a larger area. Suddenly, someone yelled, “it’s hard work.” I turned and see a smiling bus driver sitting with his head out the window. I say, “Not really – the ground is soft.” So it struck me that I have just closed the conversation and turn to say something else, but the bus had started and drives silently on. I felt like I was out of practice with just being present. The weeding took a couple of hours and I had gathered a large sack of garden waste. I took pictures and thought about the value of the work now. Is it possible to restore the sensation the landscape caused by emphasizing the tending of the small garden? Should I put a new sign up in the garden and make new plant tags. Maybe I am just trying to take the easy solution and do what I am familiar with.


Sunday, 30 March 2014

It was foggy when I drove to Aarhus this morning. I thought it would be good to get started early so that there wouldn’t be too much traffic. The parcelling of the landscape makes it even more dangerous than earlier to work in, because people now frequently drives through it, and the drivers do not expect that they need to consider people there. I dared not work in the landscape now without my high-visibility shirt. In the landscape I collected garbage, and since it has been a long time since I have done it, there was actually quite a lot. The plants were starting to sprout. Fennel, sage and lovage seemed to grow really well. Outside the garden in the remaining landscape all the berry bushes are dead. Most of them died last winter and the rest as the landscape was parcelled in the summer. Under the construction sign the effect of the garden is reinforced by the contrast to the surrounding landscape, but only a few notice. There are two fine black currant bushes and the only rhubarb grows on edge of the garden (I may be wrong, maybe I saw one somewhere else too). After collecting garbage I took pictures. Sundays are good for gardening; I was present in the garden and in my thoughts. While taking pictures I thought again about emphasizing the garden so others can enjoy it and not think that I have abandoned it. It might be fine next weekend to put a new sign up with Traffic Island Edible Garden and tend the garden right until asphalt and stone cover it up. It would be a start to get beyond that it being just a project, it is indeed a life – without that I would want to comment further on it.


Tuesday, 3 June 2014

A woman passing the landscape was making a bouquet of blooming sage.


June 2014

Passing a colleague, she mentioned that I must appreciate the beautiful poppies growing in Noerreport. One from the administration staff commented that maybe I ought to be weeding in Noerreport soon. I mentioned that I am only weeding the garden beneath the construction sign where berry bushes are growing, and that the rest of the landscape is growing wild now and only maintained through occasional collection of garbage. He offered to give me a hand, and since it is such a generous offer I responded that I hope he means it, as I find it hard to say no. He said he meant it.


Thursday, 26 June 2014

We are unable to settle a time for garden work. Meeting him he mentioned that he actually has had a hoe lying in his car for the past week.


Friday, 27 June 2014

Leaving work, I saw a man moving in Noerreport between the beech hedges. I had almost crossed Noerreport when I decided to turn around and talk to him with. I thought that I had better tell him not to mow in the traffic island. He stopped working when I ask if it is ok that I interrupt for a moment. I explained to him that I maintain the landscape in the traffic island and I would appreciate it if he doesn’t cut it down. I say as well that his colleague on the other side of the road doesn’t have to collect garbage there. He said that it is ok and that probably I ought to say it myself to his colleague.


Thursday, 10 July 2014

I have been sitting in the office all day. There is much to be done. At half past eight in the evening the temperature had dropped so much that I can finally go down to the landscape but I’m out of practice and the old feeling returns that it is quite demanding. Walking towards the landscape I began to fear that the blackcurrants suddenly were gone. But the berries were there. There was really a lot of garbage and I started collecting beneath the sign to take a closer look at the berries – they were perfect. Also the bronze coloured fennel was absolutely fantastic, I think it was about two metres high and it was impressive against the city background. I removed some thistles and a few nettles, which are growing around the currant bushes, and then I removed a few nettles growing in the mint. While I was weeding under the sign a car suddenly stopped and a female voice said, “Hi… Marie, is it you who is in there?” It was the woman who offered me a front yard in Aarhus last year when doing the Edible Estates: Prototype Garden #14 in Hammel. We talked and suddenly we become aware that she was blocking the traffic. She drove off while we half make a coffee appointment. I continued my work. The smell was impressive; it is amazing how it smells when one moves around between the plants. While I was working the sun went down and I could take pictures – many pictures …  It crossed my mind that they might be the last pictures of the landscape I will manage to get into the dissertation. But this is actually ok. It ended up being easy spending time in the landscape today. Easy to remove a few plants and then the garden was perfectly fine. And the remaining landscape was just fine too when I had collected garbage. It was a fluid space of thoughts, ideas and perspectives.


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