This Spring, Sergey Jivetin, an artist based in the Hudson Valley NY, produced an interesting art-agriculture project called ‘Furrow’. The project is based upon the process of ‘scarification’. (Scarification is a technique used by farmers and gardeners to kick-start seed germination by intentionally breaking the hard exterior of the seed.) Sergey scarified the seeds by engraving minute designs on the outer shell of the seeds. 

Local people were invited to visit, bring seeds, including seeds that are known to respond well to scarification (ex. Sweet Peas, Morning Glory) and suggest a design for Sergey to execute. This was very much a regional project with individuals or small groups getting the opportunity to talk, connect and share ideas while their seed was being engraved. Sergey suggested people plant their seeds and compare the germination rates of engraved and non-scarified seeds.

Sergey with his engraving equipment. The seed he is working on is displayed on the screen (below). 

Sergey used a drill bit as a 'seed holder' (below).

After the seed was scarified it was planted. A ‘control’ (non-scarified seed) was also planted and Sergey recorded the germination details. He noted that there was a 100 to 300 % gain in germination rates for scarified (engraved) seeds vs unaltered seeds.

While engraving the seeds, Sergey hoped to engage people in conversation about environmentally-beneficial commercial food production. Also the value of heirloom seeds, seed diversity, healthy soil and permaculture techniques. 

Sergey engraved one of the Sprout House’s organic, non GMO black turtle beans (below).

As Sergey says “A lot of people feel they should do something for the Earth, they are told to do something, but that’s not enough, slogans do not work, the message goes in one ear and out the other. Sometimes it’s a tiny gesture, simply engraving a seed, that makes people re-evaluate their priorities and their value system. A seed is not simply a canvas for engraving it’s the origin of life.”

During the project, Sergey worked on a prototype for a seed package for the Hudson Valley Seed Company (which currently has a line of artist-designed seed packs.) Sergey’s seed packets incorporate a 3x power lens which magnifies the engraved seed. His skills and experience as a designer of wearable-sculpture jewelry came into play here.

The Hudson Valley Seed Company partnered with Sergey on this project and C H U R C H Space hosted the artist-in-residence program. Project documentation was recorded by Robbie Walters.

Thank you, Sergey for creating this fascinating project and sharing your skills with us, we’re looking forward to the next adventure! Read more about the project here