Home Grown assesses current agricultural practice in the United States analyzing the impact giant-scale, centralized farming has on food production, labor, local and regional landscapes, and rural farming culture.  Understanding the consequential shift from a nation fed by small farmers to a nation incapable of feeding its own population due to global trade practices underlies the research for this project.

Through a series of graphic explorations, the project investigates the patterns we make on the earth through inhabitation and cultivation and the impacts these extreme practices have.  Probing the strategies and intentions claimed as we restructure our environments and natural ecologies, it has become increasingly evident that our engagement with and manipulation of landscapes no longer remains local.  Rather, our actions reverberate worldwide.  The project elucidates the spatial, ecological, and cultural dimensions of agricultural production in the United States across four scales: global, national, regional, and local.  Through a visual conversation about growing, buying, selling, transporting, and consuming, several assumptions guide the project.  The first is agriculture as it is practiced today is radically altering the substance of place.  Spatially speaking, large-scale farms dominate regional landscapes irrevocably altering dwelling patterns.  The second is the general public’s lack of awareness of the current complexities, problems and effects of large-scale agriculture.  And finally the belief that current agricultural practices can be transformed into more sustainable practices if consumers are armed with knowledge establishes the reason for undertaking the project in the first place.

Looking at the global connections created by American agriculture, the top crops grown nationally are traced from point of origin to point of consumption documenting changes in quantities spawned by changes in policy.  Understanding consumption patterns by assessing the end-user of a crop provides a clear picture of how resources are being used and allows suppositions to be made regarding best practices and best use scenarios.

In assessing agricultural production at the national level, three primary areas of interest are identified: what is grown where and who grows it; how the crop is grown and long-term consequences of farming methods, and how the temporal component of farming’s harvest cycles and labor flows constructs a shifting geography of production. Particularly compelling, agricultural on a national scale is witnessing the complex web that comprises and guides it: shifts in the geographical location of particular crops depend on policy, climate changes, labor supply, and access to resources. 

Lastly is the examination of agriculture at the local level.  Beginning with state-level macro data, the tenuous relationship between big agricultural interests and environmental sustainability for key crops is examined.  Issues of land tenure, farming methods, crop selection, land stewardship, water supply, and dwelling patterns are central to understanding the complexity of current agricultural problems.  Understanding the core of the problem is the first step towards offering plausible solutions. With interest growing nationally over issues of sustainability, Home Grown provides a critical analysis of the environmental and cultural impacts of globalized agriculture by facilitating discussions about ecological, cultural and economic sustainability.