The Ditsum Plum Project
A village in Devon has a unique variety of plum tree growing in it's gardens and orchards. Once engaged the whole community in a celebration of their special local plum, leading up to 'Plum Day'.
Oral-history was gathered from both young and old to produce an archive of stories and myths from which to build the different elements of the project. A variety of participatory art activity, public art and performance was used to celebrate stories of the plum's history in the village and mark its effects upon the landscape, trade and culture.
Drawing on tree dressing traditions Once took over 250 visitors and villagers on a trail through the lanes of the village, ending at the village hall for a plum jam tea. The trail told of the plum today and in days gone by, highlighting the landscape with beautiful imagery, poetry and performance.
Lantern Procession and Shadow Puppetry
In the weeks leading up to Plum Day Once facilitated workshops with over 200 members of the community in willow lantern making. On Plum Day at dusk, a procession of light was led through the streets by a local band, down to the riverside. Everyone gathered on the green to watch the 'Myth of the Plum' depicted as a striking performance, using shadow puppetry and fire sculpture.
Ditsum Plum Book
Once crafted a unique book which was printed and distributed to every household of the parish. Alongside plum recipes lay stories, memories, horticultural advice, and imagery of plum celebrations from across the world. The book was carefully designed as a lasting legacy and an inspiration to future tree planters and jam makers alike.
The Ditsum Plum project re-enthused villagers by bringing memories to life and enlightened newcomers by highlighting the heritage and value of the trees in their gardens, thus starting to build bridges between 'born and bred' and 'newcomers'.