Seed Circus

Seed Circus was a series of four summer events about how urban communities engage with the natural world. Each of the four events, held outdoors on Sunday afternoons, explored a different theme: Felt, Forage, Culture, and Seed.

Seed Circus included craft demos, live music, cooking tutorials, film screenings, bike rides, reading libraries, panel discussions, a pie-baking contest, and lots of food. We commissioned a chef to kill and cook a wild boar, asked a cheese-maker to stretch mozzarella with the audience, and sheared two sheep. The series was organized in collaboration with the Greenhorns, a national advocacy group for young farmers in America.

Scroll down for photos of Seed Circus and a free poster.

Seed Sunday, September 18th, 2011
1:00 pm

The fourth and final Seed Circus event, "Seed" follows an agrarian tradition of celebrating fall harvest. The event is about harvesting and planting heirloom seeds, but also includes ukulele lessons, a reading library of farming books, and a pie contest judged by local pastry chefs. We'll concurrently screen two films in the art gallery that advocate localizing food production and revitalizing farming culture.

Seed Politics

2:30pm — Seed experimenting: talk by Aaron Dinwoodie, a farmer at Tunitas Creek Ranch

Saving seeds: how-to activities by the Bay Area Seed Interchange Library (BASIL)
Growing rare seeds: info from the Merritt College Landscape Horticulture Program

Pie Contest

Bake a pie and enter it in our pie contest! Two blue-ribbon bakers will be awarded prizes. Entries judged by Celeste Cooper of Butterfat Bakery and Carrie Lewis, pastry chef at Chez Panisse.

1:30pm — Entry deadline
3:00pm — Winner announced

1. If you'd like to enter the contest, please give us a heads up: send a message to OMCA through Facebook or email [email protected].
2. Pies must be on the judging table by 1:30pm on Sunday, September 18th to compete. The judging table will be on Oak Plaza, at the Oak Street entrance of the Museum. (You do not need to pay admission to reach Oak Plaza.)
3. The winner will be announced at 3pm. The winner does not need to be present to win.
4. Two prizes will be awarded, for the best fruit and non-fruit pies. The prize is $100 gift certificate to the OMCA Store, and a selection of premium baking tools. Winners will be announced through the Greenhorns and Oakland Standard websites.

Film Screenings in the Gallery of California Art (ongoing)

The Economics of Happiness (2011), directed by Helena Norberg-Hodge, Steven Gorlick, and John Page of the International Society for Ecology and Culture

The Economics of Happiness describes a world in which two contradictory forces are at play: government and market interests push for a globalized economy based on high technology and increased trade, while people all over the world work at the grassroots level to nurture small-scale, ecological, local economies. Through a series of interviews, the subjects of this short documentary explain how "going local" is a strategy of political, ecological, and social activism.

The Greenhorns (2011), directed by Severine von Tscharner Fleming

The Greenhorns is a documentary profile of young farmers in America. The film argues that these committed farmers—thoroughly dissatisfied with modern capitalist models of consumption—are the protagonists of an American agricultural revolution.

Also featuring...

1:15pm — Ukulele play-a-long by Peter & Donna Thomas of the Ukulele Club of Santa Cruz
*Bring your own uke, some loaners available

A reading library about farms and farmers, organized by the Oakland Public Library
Live music by the Range of Light Wilderness
Crop swap info by Phat Beets Produce


CultureSunday, August 14th, 2011
1:00 pm

"Culture" is about the wonders of cultured milk…with a little ice cream thrown in for good measure. Learn how to make queso fresco at home and ride a bike that churns ice cream. The event features short talks from pillars of the Bay Area cheese community, about cheese mongering, the life of a cheesemaker, and the world of difference between Kraft® and artisan cheese. Tara's Organic Ice Cream available for sampling, in goat-cheese flavor, of course.
Oak Plaza
1:00pm - 4:00pm

- Bicycle-powered ice cream churn by Rock the Bike
- Queso fresco workshop by the San Francisco Milk Maid. Download her recipe here.
- Goat cheese-flavored ice cream by Tara's Organic Ice Cream
- Fiddling by Diana Greenberg

- Mozzarella stretching with Arcangelo Esposito of Belfiore Cheese

- "Cheese Facts, Stories, and Fictions," a talk by members of the Cheese Board Collective

- Cheese show and tell with Debra Dickerson of Cowgirl Creamery–there will be tastings!


Forage Sunday July 10th, 2011
1:00 pm

Foraging has provided sustenance to communities since the earliest days of California, but the practice has captured new interest as an alternative to the industrial food system.

This event begins with a bicycle tour of fruit gleaning spots in Temescal, guided by Forage Oakland. Upon return to the Museum, there will be presentations and discussion with California foragers and a screening of the film The Gleaners and I (Agnès Varda, 2000). The event includes a take-away guide by artist Kacie Erin Smith, and, quite possibly, tastes of foraged foodstuffs.

Bike Tour
OMCA Oak Plaza & Temescal
1:00 pm

Meet at OMCA for a bike tour guided by Forage Oakland. The route is a total distance of about seven miles, over mostly flat terrain; we'll ride at a moderate pace. Bike-nurse services by East Bay Bike Party, and bike valet by East Bay Bicycle Coalition (EBBC).

OMCA Oak Plaza
3:00 pm

Short presentations by panelists, followed by group discussion.

Eugene Ahn, FORAGE restaurant, LA
Kevin Cook, chef and boar hunter
Kirk Lombard, marine forager
Osha Neumann, lawyer
Iso Rabins, forageSF
Moderators: Ted Purves & Susanne Cockrell, artists

OMCA Gallery of California Art
3:30 pm

Screening of documentary film The Gleaners and I (Agnès Varda, 2000).

"[Director Agnès Varda] crisscrossed the French countryside…in search of people who scavenge in potato fields, apple orchards, and vineyards, as well as in urban markets and curbside trash depositories. Some are motivated by desperate need, others by disgust at the wastefulness all around them…The Gleaners and I is both a diary and a kind of extended essay on poverty, thrift, and the curious [practice] of scavenging."
A. O. Scott, New York Times


Seed Sunday, June 19th, 2011
1:00 pm

Sheep are traditionally sheared in late spring as the warm weather arrives. "Felt" will feature a sheep shearing (live sheep!) by farmer Joe Sanchez; bicycle-powered wool carding by Oakland-based felt artisans Felt the Sun; the making of a giant felt rug with artist Ashley Helvey; and a short talk by Ariel Rivers about her family's sheep ranch. Presentations will be followed by a screening of the acclaimed documentary Sweetgrass (2010), directed by Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Illisa Barbash, about the last major sheep drive across America's Big Sky Country. Leave your winter coat at home.

Oak Plaza
1:00pm - 2:30pm

- Carding wool by bike & stroking wool roving: demonstration by fiber artist Katherine McKee Jolda of Felt the Sun
- Making a felt rug: demonstration by artist Ashley Helvey
- Shearing live sheep: demonstration by shepherd John Sanchez
- Guitar & ukulele by Harry T. Bolles 

James Moore Theater
2:30pm - 5:00pm

- Tending sheep at Rivers End Ranch: talk by conservationist Ariel Rivers
- Screening of Sweetgrass, a documentary film by Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Ilisa Barbash

More about the film Sweetgrass :

"An unsentimental elegy to the American West, Sweetgrass follows the last modern-day cowboys to lead their flocks of sheep up into Montana’s breathtaking and often dangerous Absaroka-Beartooth mountains for summer pasture. This beautiful and unsparing film reveals a world in which nature and culture, animals and humans, vulnerability and violence, are all intimately meshed."


The Seed Circus is organized with Louella Hill and Severine von Tscharner Fleming of the Greenhorns, a national non-profit organization that recruits and supports young farmers in America. Using radio, blogs, film, and live events, the Greenhorns build agrarian culture by connecting young farmers with information, land, and each other.

Download the event poster by Brooke Appler here.