Test Plots


Test Plots, a series of unique exhibits, lectures, and field trips in Reedsburg and other Sauk County locations, are named to reflect the role of experimentation in generating community dialogue, learning, and engagement. Each features the work of local and regional artists and thinkers representing the healthy rural/urban flow that is vital to any thriving region. Times and details will be continuously updated so check back often!
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A Workshop, Artist Talk, and the Big Sequester

Saturday, August 26, 2017 - Sunday, August 27, 2017

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Verge (seen on the 2016 Farm/Art DTour) returns as a part of the Wormfarm’s Test Plot Season

In 2016, Sara Black, Amber Ginsburg and Lia Rousset worked with local builders of all skill levels to create and place 220 Leopold benches at a farm site between two adjacent ecological communities: where field meets forest. Designed by the late Wisconsin ecologist Aldo Leopold, crafted with material harvested from the surrounding forests and made to support the human body, the benches symbolically hold the “human position” in this ecosystem. Through the process of charcoalization the bench’s role shifts, becoming a resting point for nonhuman beings.

Join us for a weekend of material transformation from bench, to charcoal and then to biochar – a material host for microorganisms that promote soil biodiversity and long-term carbon storage. Through the weekend we will learn how to produce bio-char with Tony Saladino and with artists Black and Ginsburg we will consider the link between local ecosystems and larger global systems like the carbon cycle.


Biochar Workshop with Tony Saladino 

Saturday, August 26, 2 to 5pm

Location: The Old School Art Asylum is on County Road S, 1/4 mile west of Main Street (County Road G) in Lime Ridge.

Cost: $25  Tickets available here

Biochar is the name of a 2,000 year-old practice that converts plant matter into a soil enhancer that can hold carbon, boost food security and increase soil biodiversity, while discouraging deforestation. The process creates a fine-grained, highly porous charcoal that helps soils retain nutrients and water. Tony Saladino will present a workshop in which participants learn-by-doing, producing batches of biochar. Participants will leave with some char of their own to experiment with, a container to use to create more char at home, and a whole lot of knowledge about the history, benefits, process of making and uses of biochar.


Artist Talk: Amber Ginsburg and Sara Black

Saturday, August 26, 6:30-7:30pm

Location: The Old School Art Asylum is on County Road S, 1/4 mile west of Main Street (County Road G) in Lime Ridge.

Cost: FREE

Chicago-based artists Sara Black and Amber Ginsburg will give an overview of their works that address ecological change across forest systems and how these changes are linked to larger systems like the global carbon cycle. Areas of inquiry have included the ancient Caledonian Rainforest in Scotland, diseased oak trees of California, “Witness Trees” that guided colonists in mapping Chicago to forest edges in the Driftless region of Wisconsin. Their large-scale projects reach into time on a geologic scale but engage with audiences in the present embodied moment.


The Big Sequester and Biochar

Sunday, August 27

The Big Sequester: 9-1 and Biochar: 1-5

Location: The Old School Art Asylum is on County Road S, 1/4 mile west of Main Street (County Road G) in Lime Ridge.

Cost: FREE

On Sunday morning Sara and Amber will stoke up eight anaerobic charcoal kilns, transforming the remaining material of the original Verge benches into charcoal and then on to biochar for the enrichment of local growing systems. Join them in the morning to tend the roaring kilns while chatting about carbon from the molecular to the atmospheric level. The afternoon will be spent working together to turn charcoal into biochar. Either as a follow-up to Tony’s workshop the day before or as a first introduction to biochar, we will all be learning together. You may take away biochar for your own use at the end of the weekend. All remaining biochar will go to local partner farms.


Saturday, August 26, 2017
Sunday, August 27, 2017