Tue, 30 October 2012
Alan Chadwick was a brilliant master gardener, a visionary, and an extraordinary source of inspiration for many horticulture students and professional gardeners, past and present. Through those who worked with him, and the constant stream of luminaries, writers, practitioners, and students who visited his magical gardens, Chadwick influenced an entire generation of American gardeners, whether directly or indirectly. In his fertile, productive gardens, Chadwick proved that by following his methods, yields of four to six times the U.S. commercial average for fruits, vegetables, and grains could be achieved, using one-eighth of the water, a quarter of the fertilizer, and one-hundredth of the energy per pound of food produced.
To Chadwick, gardening was in part a spiritual endeavor: an element in the quest for the inner sense of man, a means of shedding light on a vision of creation and nature. He was fascinated by the mystery of nature and the power of its cycles; he saw nature essentially as a giver and forgiver, and he battled constantly to defend it against man's predilection for dominating it. Chadwick saw the garden as our true home and as the ultimate teacher of human culture, and he strove to make his gardens as beautiful, functional, and sustainable as possible. (from www.seedsofchange.com/cutting_edge/alan_chadwick.aspx)
But Alan Chadwick was far more than an accomplished horticulturist. He taught, prodded, cajoled, and berated his many students until they became competent, authentic, and creative human beings; or at least that was his goal for them, as he would settle for nothing less. As Allen Kalpin, a long-time Chadwick apprentice, once said, "He was a gardener of souls."
Biodynamic viticulture consultant Alan York, a student of Chadwick's, said this about him, ""Alan Chadwick's gift, I believe, was not so much as a gardener as a storyteller. His storytelling was so skillful that he could create magic with words. This magic allowed those who worked with him to experience things that were still in the future, such as the building of a garden. Weaving his spell, Chadwick created vivid pictures that empowered us to visualize just what a garden could be. He always told us that it is the garden that makes the gardener, and not the other way around. It should be a place of reflection, he would say, where we can once again know that feeling of Paradise and recreate a modern Garden of Eden."
"For those who were fortunate enough to know him," concludes York, "his legacy will always live on because he captured our imaginations and gave us practical skills to turn our dreams into the reality of our lives." <from Seeds of Change article>
Alan Chadwick lectured to his students frequently. Hundreds of tapes of his presentations exist but no one was making a serious effort to organize and preserve these priceless recording for posterity until landscape architecht Craig Siska stepped forward to do it.
Craig is our special guest for this episode of The Biodynamics Now! Podcast.
Craig apprenticed with Alan Chadwick in Virginia in 1978-79, and is now working very closely with Stephen Crimi("Performance in the Garden") and others, in the Asheville, NC area - 32 years after Alan's passing - create the Alan Chadwick Archive.
Craig's immediate goal is to contact as many former apprentices and those interested in the work, vision & legacy of Alan Chadwick, to gather any and all materials regarding Alan and his work that might still be available:
*/1) Audio tapes of Alan's public talks and lectures to apprentices./* */2) Photographs of Alan and the gardens he brought to fruition./* */3) Apprentices' notes of lectures and demonstrations in the garden./* */4) Letters to and from Alan./* */5) Drawings or plans of gardens that either Alan or others made./* */6) Seed lists/plant lists/ or planting design plans of Alan's garden work./* */7) Garden logs/ Forcing House Logs/ Garden Journals./* */8) Pocket notes taken by apprentices when Alan did garden demonstrations/* */9) Any other material germane to Alan, his work, vision and legacy./* Craig and those collaborating with him will create a public website, where anyone can log in, and experience Alan's legacy. This will take much time, effort, money and TLC. Your contributions are encouraged!
That website, which is still in its formative stages, is at www.alan-chadwick.org