Meadow Mandala

Meadow Mandala at the SEED Barn Maine
Thatcher Gray basks above the completed Meadow Mandala in the wet meadow alongside the SEED Barn.

Broadening perceptions of HOME to include outdoor spaces helps cultivate an understanding of the interrelationships between humans and wildlife. As for humans, good homes for wildlife include plenty of food, safe access to water and shelter, and enough space to raise the next generation. In this outdoor workshop, participants are invited to create an on-site, mandala inspired sculpture woven through the meadow landscape that will provide winter habitat for seed dispersers.

In the process, we learn how to work with natural materials in our own gardens to augment habitat for wildlife through winter months.

This is the final installment of the 2019 Open Air Arts Initiative Field Works, a collaboration between the Blue Hill Heritage Trust, Cynthia Winings Gallery & the SEED Barn. The culmination exhibition will take place at Parker Point the weekend of September 27-29.

The SEED Barn is located at 53 Falls Bridge Road in Blue Hill Falls

Meadow Mandala at the SEED Barn Maine
Exploring different methods of working with materials on site, participants share ideas as the spiral form of the mandala is established
leaf chain
A leaf chain is woven with yarn and Norway maple leaves from the eradication of the invasive tree on another part of the property.
Leaf chain for the Meadow Mandala
Assembling the Meadow Mandala at the SEED Barn Maine
Working together to assemble the Meadow Mandala
Meadow Mandala at the SEED Barn Maine
The finished mandala
Meadow Mandala in winter. The structure persists into the winter and highlight the animal passages through the underbrush.
Mandala in Winter

SEED the Untold Story at the Halcyon Grange

SEED: The Untold Story is a documentary that follows passionate seed keepers who are protecting a 12,000 year-old food legacy. In the last century, 94% of our seed diversity has disappeared. A cadre of 10 agrichemicals companies, including Syngenta, Bayer and Monsanto, control over two-thirds of the global seed market, reaping unprecedented profits. Farmers and others battle to defend the future of our food.

Following the film will be a discussion led by Lee Lee, founder of The SEED Barn in Blue Hill.  Drawing inspiration from the Slow Food approach to activism expressed around a shared table, Lee Lee has initiated The SEED Barn as a platform for cultivating a local network of seed stewards that include trust lands, farms, regional schools, public libraries and private land holders. She is also instigating a parallel project in Haiti, which shares a dual focus of heirloom preservation and wildland restoration.

Free event. Donations accepted.
Family friendly, all are welcome.


SEED Sensorium
Bridging art and science, these activities engage all of the senses in learning about the remarkable world of seeds and their utmost importance in our lives. Participants are encouraged to look through the lens of the seed to explore their personal connections to the natural world.

SEED matters :: Heirloom seed EXCHANGE
With seeds granted by the Seed Savers Exchange as part of the Seed Matters heirloom preservation program, we are building a foundation for a community seed library based in the SEED Barn in Blue Hill. Bring seeds you have been saving to contribute to the library as we gather seeds that hold significance for this community. Browse from a variety of crops to take home and grow out over the next growing season. Get tips on saving vegetable and fruit seeds.

SEED dispersal: Native grasses and spring sown wildflowers
Learn how we may use our land to enhance pollinator habitats while sharing ideas on how we invite into our spheres the pollinators essential for growing food. Take home seeds for your own garden and help augment pollinator habitat across the peninsula.

SEED Saving Workshop, Children’s activities & Film Screening

Thursday, February 22nd
4:30 pm: Family friendly seed sensorium and dispersal

Stories and hands-on activities for children inspired by the remarkable world of seeds.

5:30 pm: Soup’s on!
Family meal with soups, mac ‘n cheese & homemade breads

6:00 pm: Film screening of SEED the Untold Story

Followed by a discussion with Lee Lee, founder of the SEED Barn.

Halcyon Grange
1157 Pleasant St, North Blue Hill, Maine 04614,
SEED :: disperse:,

SEED Senorium at the grange
SEED Sensoiurm activities at the Grange
SEED Sensorium: Smell me
Smell me seeds made up of culinary spices as part of the SEED Sensorium
SEED dispersal
SEED Dispersal – wildflowers and native grasses to support pollinators
Pine Cone Bird Feeders
Supporting birds in winter with local lard mixed with peanut butter & seeds! Other festive seeds that may be used (and dispersed by the birds) are staghorn sumac and wild rose. These festive berries add a flash of red to the feeders.

Katie Woodall

Katie Woodall sculpture

Dedicated Altar

After our hive was destroyed by a bear, sections lay on the ground. I found this propolis and wax section intact just under the hive where I guess the mice had been living, eating plum seeds and honey. A complex habitat.

They say that “bees are the legs of the plant”…delivering the pollen from flower to flower. They are actually the essential connectors that make it possible for us to survive by way of the fruit of the vine.

In many places around the world, bees have been disappearing. There are chemicals in GMO corn and soy, etc. that take away the memory of how to get back to the hive. For monoculture crops – like almonds in California – big farming uses millions of bees to pollinate but doesn’t provide enough diverse forage, and so they die. This is just one example. The agricultural pesticides we use destroy immune systems. Whole communities of bees are broken apart continuously in industrial harvesting. These ways can change.

Humans and bees have been working together for 10,000 years. They are our allies. Come back, bees! This altar is dedicated to their return, we are a community together. It works as a tool for anyone to use as many times as needed. Just light the candle and replace with a new one.

Katie Woodall Shrine for Bees
Katie Woodall portrait of Vandana Shiva

Mandy Stapleford

Mandy Stpaleford SEED Ceramics

My SEED art is a reflection of my relationship to this planet that I live on, and how I feel about this world that I live in.

Along with sex and soft and berries and ooze; horns, thorns, and spikes often dominate these pieces. They are among nature’s boldest and most audacious forms. They are never random. They are often the most beautiful. When displayed, you can’t miss them. They can be striking, protective, frightening or comforting.  

It all depends on which side of the armor you are on.

It all depends on what is being protected.

But there is always a purpose.

There is nothing random in nature.

Sometimes what I do is the smallest elements in nature, and in us, made big. It is a closer look without the magnifying glass.  

It is the inside on the outside.

Animal, human and vegetable… exposed.

The SEED is the beginning of it all.

It’s intent is to be embraced, even if it elicits something uncomfortable… particularly if it does.

Everything in nature has purpose.

There is nothing random here.

This work is about our inner psyche and our connection to the immediate world around us.

We are not just residing on Planet Earth, we come from it and are part of it.

Everything in nature has purpose.

To examine closely is to seek truth

and freedom.

It is our connection to everything.

Mandy Stapleford SEED Ceramic detail
Mandy Stapleford SEED Ceramic detail
Mandy Stapleford SEED Ceramic detail

Siena Sanderson

Seeds in Search of Safe Ground

DISPERSAL: The action or process of distributing things or people over a wide area

Since the beginning of time both seeds and people have found their way to new territory. Dispersal is so often random with conditions unpredictable and endings potentially tragic or triumphant.  These scrolls are dedicated to the many refugees being dispersed throughout the world today and to the hope that they will find their way to safe new ground.

Siena Sanderson installation of seeds
Siena Sanderson SEED detail

Sybille Palmer

Alphabet of Life Scroll- The Backstory

I was only 10 years old when I fully encountered the impact of commerce and industry on the environment. Our family left behind suburban New Jersey and returned to Germany. My father worked as a chemist for Bayer. We moved within sightline of this enormous chemical plant. It was 1966. All the fish were dying in the Rhein. The air was so polluted you could see it as well as smell it. It was shocking.

I was horrified.

I left Germany behind in my twenties and moved to Hawaii. Lived off the grid, explored an alternative lifestyle. We grew our own organic food and I realized how much more alive it tasted. How deeply nourishing it felt. I became aware of the healing power of food and began to study the Healing Arts.

In 2006 I read the “Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan. This book changed my life deeply and forever. I began to understand the larger context of food-systems. Pollan showed me how highly political food really is. How much Big Agriculture impacts our environment and thus the quality of our lives.

I began to read all kinds of texts on ecology. “Deep Economy” and “The End of Nature.” by Bill McKibben, “Cradle to Cradle” by Michael McDonough.  Books by Carlos Petrini, the founder of Slow Food. Of course I became a Slow Food member. I realized that voting with my fork is important. The way I spend my food dollars matters.

Pollan’s writing on “The Ark of Taste” showed me the importance of preserving our heritage, starting with seeds. This preservation effort also extends to protecting the ways of ancient cultures – their farming methodologies and ethnic foods. Without seeds we have no future. 

In the same year, and meanwhile living in Los Angeles, I met a woman named Amory Starr. She is a political economist and social movements scholar. She was exploring  using food to build community. She was inviting her class to dinner in her Venice loft. She had also started a monthly event called “The Viand”. After I attended the first time, I immediately asked to join as a chef.

The concept was simple:

5 chefs- 10 courses-20 guests-byo wine.

We handed out invitations both to friends and strangers. Specifically we made sure to include our favorite farmers and vendors, cheese mongers and such. We created maps of food sheds. We wrote a Zine every month, introducing guests to the concepts of Slow Food. Seasonal. Local. Organic. Letting the ingredients shine. Sharing food in the company of others. A small plates feast. It was an exploration, an experiment, and a joy. A new way to grow a community.

Amory went on to write a book about it:  “Underground Restaurant- Local Food, Artisan Economies, Creative Political Culture.”

Then- in 2009 the first Seed Show opened in Taos. I had moved there the year before and asked if I could submit work for the next show. I took part twice.

The show is based on the book “Seeds- Time Capsules of Life.” by Rob Kessler & Wolfgang Stuppy. It is a most inspiring read with amazing photography. I learned so much. It made me aware of the importance of Seed Banks.

The “Alphabet of Life Scroll” is a 34’ long piece, featuring the 9000 names of plant species facing extinction worldwide. To tie it in locally, I featured the images and names of the 13 plants endangered in New Mexico.

I also created a handout addressing the Holocene Mass Extinction. On it I included websites and suggestions on how to get involved and become informed citizens. It is my sincere hope that we will wake up and begin to make better choices. May it never become an Extinction Scroll. It would be such an immense loss.

Sybille Palmer, Taos New Mexico

Sybille Palmer Alphabet of life scroll installation
Detail of the Alphabet of Life scroll


Collaboration between Susanne Mitchell & Lee Lee

The Monarch butterfly population is on the verge of collapse. Huge swaths of industrialized monoculture have all but decimated the milkweed which is necessary to nourish the three generations of butterflies that complete a migration cycle. We rely on them as pollinators who help us maintain an important biodiversity. Chemical inputs, especially pesticides, are fatal to butterflies. No less so for humans, but our decline is slow. Visually, the butterfly is fragile. We chose to print the foundation of this installation with a cold white ink on black paper which gives the butterflies a ghostly appearance. Inserted into the SEED narrative next to Evan Anderman’s aerial landscape of monoculture production in eastern Colorado, the palette gives the impression of ashen forms to represent the Monarch crisis.

Traditionally, the butterfly represents hope. Here, it serves as a transition from crisis to hope as expressed by Siena Sanderson’s work. Butterflies symbolize transformation; in moving from one state to another, a change in perspective or a new lifestyle. In this way, the butterfly may teach awareness of other ways of being. The Monarch butterfly connects Mexico and the United States through one of the most spectacular migrations in the wild. Through presenting installations dotted along the migration route of the Monarch, we encourage participation in a dialogue from regions north and south of a border that is evident to us but invisible to the graceful Monarchs. Through this conversation, we aspire to cultivate fertile grounds out of which we may grow solutions to the environmental catastrophes we face now.

Susanne Mitchell
Lee Lee

Monarch installation view

Merce Mitchell

Merce Mitchell sculpture of Pod: Skullcap
POD: Skullcap

I have been a feltmaker for twenty years. I create dimensional pieces of inlay design, embellished and embroidered, and sculpture.  Felt has a tendency to mutate and change form. There’s an element of chaos that emphasizes process over result, leading to an unplanned order, a natural unfolding and allowing the work to have a life of its own.

There is always a story in my work, mixing the personal and symbolic. My inspirations and translations revolve around chaos theory, vortex energy, women’s power and aspects, seeds, and life/death imagery, which are all my personal experience.

My main focus is fine fiber artwork that emphasizes color, construction and deconstruction. Form, technique, and the combination of felt, wire, and encaustic is my current exploration.

Merce Mitchell

Merce Mitchell felt sculpture of Pod: Hermannia
POD: Hermannia

Linda Michel-Cassidy



The Synonym Finder tells me that
“avail”means: profit,
 benefit, help, serve


But also: take advantage of,
exploit, and the sinister
“turn to account”


Once a thing is spent,
it is done for.
An irrevocable trade


Consider an ad for land
“Rarely does a property like this one
become available”


Rending: to split or tear apart, or in pieces
to remove from a place by violence
Reave and sunder


Now, consider a bulldozer,
a falsely-fallowed field
seeds not sown


This undoing
whose professional name is “progress”

* The Synonym Finder (Rodale Press, Inc, 1978, Warner Books Edition)

Linda Michel-Cassiday SEED Installation
Linda Michel-Cassidy installation view at the Dairy Arts Center, Boulder
Linda Michel-Cassiday SEED Installation
Installation detail with view of Rian Kerrane‘s SEED Wallpaper
Linda Michel-Cassiday SEED Installation
Linda Michel-Cassiday SEED Installation
Linda Michel-Cassiday SEED Installation
Linda’s daughter helps with the installation.
“It’s like I planted a flower smack dab in the middle of a development” LMC

TJ Mabrey

TJ Mabrey - Seed CarrierTitle: Seed Carrier (detail)
Medium: Italian Marble
Size: 7.5 x 30 x 5 inches

Artist Statement

Seeds are dispersed in so many unique ways. The seeds themselves have built in mechanisms for moving about: jumping-jack bounces, sticky bits to attach to clothing, fur, shoes of passers-by etc…But my intent in submitting the sculpture Seed Carrier is to show another way – by boat/ship.  The sculpture represents an empty wisteria pod which is floating on water, like a boat on the ocean.

The marble bed for the seed is empty of the wisteria seed, but I filled it with other (real) seeds to indicate how seeds for food are transported, country to country and continent to continent. Sometimes those seeds meant for food (rice, wheat, and the occasional wild flower) become embedded in the earth where they land and are able to reproduce……that is, if they haven’t come in contact with the New and Improved Monsanto Monster – RoundUp Ready-Xtend!

Seed Carrier by TJ Mabrey
TJ Mabrey, Seed Carrier, Italian Marble