Against Greenhouses

“I became more interested in the transformative potentials of greenhouse initiatives, instead of the greenhouses themselves,” confessed Aleksandra Jaeschke during her Wheelwright Prize lecture, which chronicled how her time touring greenhouses across the globe as part of her fellowship (which included a year-long interruption due to the pandemic) drastically changed the framing of her original proposal. Jaeschke came to see greenhouses as a part of a broader mindset of disconnectedness between humans, animals, and plants. In her words, “enclosures are an emblem of a broken world” and, in the case of greenhouses, they are causing massive issues, including the depletion of soils, microplastic contamination, and the alienation of labor from its natural surroundings. She suggested that the way we treat food and its “lifelines”—pollinators, fertilizer, and seeds—as commercial products is yet another example of such pervasive alienation. But she ended the lecture on a hopeful note: even the smallest balcony can host compost production.

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