Why an exhibition about farming? Like all our themes it’s an area rich in juxtapositions — multidisciplinary players exploring new ideas, technologies and systems often in direct conflict with each other. It’s also critical to our future. Our ability to produce food and products for growing populations on a finite amount of land with limited resources is unquestionably one of the great challenges we face globally. It may not be foremost in our minds when we do our weekly food shop but the decisions that we make as consumers and digesters can be critical influencers in the way these challenges play out. Do you want seasonal, local and organic or are you happy for mass produced? Does intensification of farming necessarily mean increased use of fertilisers and a decline in animal husbandry or is there a different way, such as “ecological intensification” as discussed by Jane Stout in the following pages.

If anything, this exhibition raises more questions then answers. It will bring our visitors into dialogue with a range of artworks, products, farm hacks, robotics and microfarms that are real field tests — experiments at the boundaries of art, design, science and farming. Will we make hay while the sun shines, or when the sensors say? Will scientific researchers innovate to meet growing global consumption, or will visionaries and dreamers reinvent farms as on-demand food forests, skyscrapers or even theme parks? What crops should we be cultivating now for a very different future: bacon-flavoured seaweed, heirloom potatoes or fly meat steaks? In the next fifty years we will radically reinvent what, where and how we grow the crops and raise the animals that keep us alive, fed and warm.

Curated by the Center for Genomic Gastronomy, FIELD TEST brings together a dynamic group of experts, artists, designers, farmers, hackers, engineers and scientists who are responding to these challenges with radical innovations in products and systems. I’d like to thank all of our FIELD TEST participants and advisors for their time and contribution to the exhibition. I know the essays over the page will grab you just as much as the discussions we have been having over the exhibition development — we look forward to continuing the conversation with our audience over the next twelve weeks.