An Update from A Field of Wheat Project
As well as having spent some time on the farm, in the last few months we created a walking event in London for the Field of Wheat Collective (a group of 42 people from around the world who are invested in Peter’s 22 acre field), tracing the history and evolution of wheat trading from 1600 to the present day. The group gathered at Bear Quay on the River Thames and walked through the city of London visiting key sites, including performing readings at 55 Mark Lane, The old Corn Exchange. These included words from Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge who describes the physical sensitivity and tuning of the farmer back in the 19th century :
"In person, he became a sort of flesh barometer, with feelers always directed to the sky and wind around him. The local atmosphere was everything to him; the atmospheres of other countries a matter of indifference."
We invited the collective to walk in silence through the heart of the city and to use the time to sense its unique ecology and atmosphere. One collective member noticed “there were no children anywhere”. At Bank we invited the group to reflect on this experience of silent walking and the quality of embodied experience, person to person or physical trading* that marked the story of trading up until early this century. This system of trading now largely takes placed virtually, through the movement of a finger on a mouse although personal relationships can still play some part.
*see Ryan Carlson’s Trading Pit Histories and the fascinating hand signals that controlled millions of pounds or dollars worth of trade in the global Future’s markets.
The tour ended with an afternoon of game playing and lively discussion with invited speakers at the Whitechapel Art Gallery. Back on the farm I have been measuring the field through striding around the boundary and performing prostrations along the long edge - read more here. The collective will gather again on the farm in June to find out more about other inhabitants of this fenland landscape and learn about the impacts of farming systems on wider ecology. We will then work towards our harvest where the collective will have the opportunity to feed into the design of the event and we will reflect on the process of growing and trading a field of wheat together. Online we are discussing how and where we might sell the wheat as well as running our next Collective Enquiry a live participatory performance, based on Quaker methods of listening and responding.
For further info visit the website.