Soil Memory residency

Open Jar Collective spent two weeks in Madrid this summer investigating the soil ecosystems around the river in collaboration with INLAND and Huerta Matadero.  We hosted walks, talks, printing, paper-making, book binding activities and conversations.



The residency was structured in four parts


Local residents, students, ecologists, botanists, landscape architects, gardeners and wildlife enthusiasts joined us for a walk to study the river ecology. The walk created a space for learning and sharing memories, and we gathered a collection of plant specimens, soil samples and words.

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Participants were invited to work with plant specimens and soil samples collected along El Rio Manzanares to create a series of prints and hand-made papers.



Participants were invited to make a set of handmade books which act as an archive of the flora and fauna of the river and people’s relationship to it, at this moment in time.

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Our final event gathered people together for a meal at Huerta Matadero (the site of a future community garden) to see samples of the work created, share research findings, and explore actions that can be taken for the future of the soil and river ecosystem in Madrid. We posed three questions:

  • What memories does the soil hold?
  • What are your dreams for the soil of Madrid?
  • What actions can be taken to protect our soils?

We’ll be talking about our work during the Soil Memory residency at the CCA on Wednesday 16th August, 6pm.  We are also working on a zine which will be published in September.



Soil City Zine

We are really looking forward to launching our Soil City Zine next week at Not by the Book, 10 years of the Radical Independent Bookfair Project in the Intermedia Gallery in the CCA Glasgow.

The Soil City Lab will be popping up from 4 – 6pm with activities including soil printing and fermenting followed by the launch of the Soil City Zine 6 – 8pm, documenting our research and conversations so far. Thanks to all our contributors and Design by Zag for all the work that has gone into it.

Check out all the other fantastic events which are part of the programme.


Notes from the Front Line

Open Jar Collective are taking part in the Hidden Civil War programme in Newcastle this October with a project called Notes from the Front Line.

Hidden Civil War is a month long programme of activity in Newcastle upon Tyne, commissioned by The NewBridge Project. Throughout October 2016 we are inviting activists and artists to contribute to a series of events that expose, collate and present evidence of a Hidden Civil War in Britain today.’

Open jar Collective have been gathering evidence and inviting people in the Newcastle and the surrounding areas to consider points of fragility in the food system.  We are hosting conversations and will create a space for dialogue that will help to build points of connection in the face of austerity.

We are posing the question – who’s on the front line in the challenge to feed Newcastle sustainably?  The front line of food production and distribution is all around us in our everyday lives  – from farms to food banks, supermarkets to corner shops, cafes to canteens.

We’ll be popping up in Grainger Market on Saturday 15th October, 11am-3pm, to share the stories we have gathered from the front line and to welcome your own ideas

Open Jar Collective: Notes from the front line

Call for volunteers at Glasgow International

Would you be interested in being part of the Open Jar Collective team and working on the Soil City project at Glasgow International 8th – 25th April 2016?

During the festival itself we are looking for people to volunteers to get involved in touring with the mobile unit, enabling public access to the laboratory and supporting our programme of events. We can pay travel and food expenses.

No experience is required but an interest in creative social engagement, soil and food is preferable. Particular roles we will require are; front of house for the lab, setting up for events, making food for events, documenting events and cycling the mobile lab.

Download the Call for Volunteers to find out more


Getting started on the journey from soil to slice

Next week with Global Canteen, we’ll be sowing a bed of Scottish winter wheat in Possilpark. Join us on Thursday 15 October, 2-3pm, at The Back Garden (behind the Health Centre on Saracen Street).  Local growers at The Concrete Garden‘s new growing space The Back Garden are one of the communities participating in Scotland The Bread a project that has been developed by Bread Matters.

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Global canteen-Scotland the Bread poster

Scotland The Bread “brings together research and change in our grain, flour and bread supply with the skilling-up of bakers who can bring real bread into every community.” At their farm in Macbiehill, which we visited a few weeks ago, Bread Matters “are evaluating Scottish heritage winter wheats and high-mineral Nordic spring wheats as well as spelt, emmer, einkorn, oats, barley and rye. In total they have more than 70 varieties of grain growing at Macbiehill Agroforestry. Harvesting of the winter rye and wheat began on September 19th. The spring oats will probably be last to be harvested in mid-October.”

Wheat seeds from Macbiehill Agroforestry will soon be winging their way to us here in Glasgow, ready to be sown in the city.  There will only be a small sample bed at The Back Garden in Possilpark, but a larger area is being sown by our friends at Locavore in their Urban Croft at Queens Park.

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Site visit to Macbiehill Agroforestry

We will be one of six community growing sites taking part in Scotland The Bread, giving people the chance to see what goes into the whole process of producing bread – from sowing and tending the crops, to threshing and milling the grain, to finally baking and sharing a nutritious sourdough loaf.  At The Back Garden we’ll be monitoring the success rate of the crop and gathering data to add to Scotland the Bread‘s research.

We’re exciting to be starting on this journey with Bread Matters, The Concrete Garden and the team of local volunteers who will be caring for their precious wheat bed from now until next September!

Blog and photographs by Clementine Sandison, Design by Josie Vallely