Population: Porridge

Population explores speculative more-than-human relations in cycles of growing oats.

Since sowing 9 varieties of oats grown in square metre plots in her own front yard, Cherry is embarking on a long-term seasonal process of reciprocal engagement. Exploring scales of growth and consumption, symbiosis and collaboration, in this first year she has set out to gather seed and create a “population variety” to be sown in plots sized to produce enough oats for a single bowl of porridge.

A “landrace” is a genetically heterogeneous variety (or “population”) that has evolved in a certain ecogeography and is adapted to its climatic conditions + traditional management. Unlike genetically homogenous modern varieties, landraces exist in a constant state of evolution through natural selection. Adaptable, resilient and diverse but ineligible for National Listing (which permits commercial production), population varieties have slipped out of use in modern farming. Instead, crops are bred in homogenous lines in pursuit of predictable results and ever increasing yield, but without the ability to adapt in reciprocity with the land they grow on.

Developed through research at IBERS (University of Aberystwyth) in early 2022.