After visiting the agricultural communities of upstate New York, I used graphic design to raise awareness of the finite nature of the seasons and the health benefits of farm fresh vegetables. Guided by interviews with farmers and produce sellers in New York's Union Square, I used a sophisticated laser engraver to make my learnings hyper accessible and impossible to ignore.
My research question was this: How might we help local farm shops overcome seasonality and create a base of year round customers.
Junk Mail VERNACULAR
I borrowed the vernacular of fake urgency found in many coupons and junk mail ("this offer won't last long"), and applied it to vegetables. But in this case the urgency was real. After all, the vegetables won't last long. They will spoil, and the seasons will change. Also printed on the surface is prepaid postage; these speculative objects would be sent by mail to potential customers, tempting them to visit the farm store while the 'offer' lasts.
WEALTH OF INFORMATION
I learned that farmers have a wealth of knowledge about the medicinal health effects of their food. To make this tangible, I designed and printed a perscription label on freshly picked roots, complete with origin, health effects, and the 'prescribing' farmer.
In another series, I printed a map onto vegetables, including information on the item's origin farm and destination city. It also included the total distance, establishing a tangible geographic relationship with the end customer.
Building with Insights
The structure of the facility is literally designed to bind a community together with food. It is composed of structural silos with transparent sides; passersby can thus see what is fresh, in season, or in stock. From the inside, customers shop from troughs at the bottom of each silo, creating an intuitive sense of their contribution to the food's depletion.
Elevating Farmers' Knowledge
In the spirit of the emerging theme 'food as medicine', I structured my third speculative solution to elevate the vast medicinal knowledge many farmers acquire in the course of business. I placed the food sellers behind a counter and surrounded the entire retail environment with literature detailing the health effects of various in- season offerings.