Marisa Dipaola was born barefoot on December 12th, 1977, and grew up in the cedar swamps and coastal Atlantic of southern New Jersey. She graduated with honors from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2000 where she majored in painting and began experimenting with site-specific sculptural installations. Upon graduation, Marisa received a travel grant to study la Mezquita, in Cordoba, Spain, which began a collection of travels to eighteen countries, studying the sacred architecture and natural wonders, producing site-specific artworks in Japan and Iceland as well as entire series of artwork while on residence in Spain, India, Italy, Egypt, Austria, and Bahrain.
She has exhibited her works internationally at museums, galleries, universities, cultural institutions, community gathering places, outdoors within natural sculptural parks and urban revitalization projects.
In the course of being a nomadic artist, Marisa Dipaola has wandered throughout the landscape in diverse surroundings, constantly inspired by the natural world that embraces us all. After residing in the southern Austrian Alps for three years, she and her family are ready for a road trip to move to southern Portugal, in order to buy and renovate an old farm as a sustainable, permaculture project: moonfarmers. Raising her three-year old daughter while this major project is on the go, she is unable to foresee any free-time to take part in the artworld, at least for a year or so. Instead, she will dedicate her time and artistic effort to turning an abandoned property into a sustainable small farm and retreat, and quite possibly a future artist residency.
Her time will be spent with rebuilding a sustainable habitation, sourcing and planting fruit and nut trees, native edibles, sacred seeds, establishing berry patches, grape vines, mushroom patches, a chicken coop, a small fish pond, a huge vegetable patch. She will use sculptural elements to create terraced farming areas, enhance microclimates and enable year-round cultivation courtesy of cold frames fashioned from old windows as well as illuminating indoor growing areas, a few wind-chimes, alternative-energy-generating works, and the interior redesign & redecoration of their living space. On a more scientific front, she hopes to incorporate the skills she learns during this time to create various sculptural projects that encourage growth, combining illuminated works with fungal works and garden projects to create sustainable, living artworks. Any additional free time she finds will be spent mending clothes from the pile she’s had gathering for years and to complete more butterfly carpets -- and there is that quilt she has wanted to make for her bedroom.
She hopes that the time working and reflecting while on-hiatus from the artworld, but proceeding with her moonfarmers project will guide the future, whichever way it grows.
On Jul 31 2017, mathieu commented on revival: part IV: thank you for the reports and for the gorgeous photographs, your adventure is very inspiring![...]
On Jul 31 2017, co-director (s) commented on revival: part IV: I'm all choked up... July 31 happened to be my birthday too; what a last day! Thank you to you all!![...]
On Jul 31 2017, co-director (m) commented on revival: part IV: Thank you so much for your generous contribution to this project Marisa - and everyone (we know it's[...]
On Jul 30 2017, co-director (s) commented on revival: part three: One thing we regret not to have done sooner is to make the comment section capable of posting images[...]
On Jul 29 2017, marisa commented on revival: part one: Most of our gardening is playing the long-game
& indeed for the patient-hearted.
some of our tre[...]
frog songs & flowering food
Now that our pond is consistently full and continually bubbling,
our frogs seem contented and serenade us each evening.
(Well, actually, a little each morning, late-morning, & mid-afternoon, too.)
We definitely have three green tree frogs,
and also one larger striped frog,
that seems to be of the same species
as the frog in the well at our squatting spot in Rogil.
Since we aren’t frog experts,
we’re not sure what all their croaking is about:
communication for sure;
but is it for courtship and mating,
inviting neighboring frogs over for a party,
or just chit-chat about the changing weather?
Who can tell?
But they’re reassuring noises whenever we hear them;
along with the chattering of the songbirds each morning
and the high-pitched squeaks of the bats at twilight.
Otherwise our valley is pretty quiet most of the day,
except for the morning and afternoon commuters to bamboo parque,
and the hay man, the cow man, and the goat man
who all drive by a few times around midday.
Last Tuesday we had a Root trine,
during the tail end of transplant time.
So we cleared out a bit more of the garden
to put in 9 more potato sprouts and another row of onions.
The potato sprouts from last time have begun to leaf out,
and the beets from the first two plantings have all emerged.
And along with the flowering kale and arugula,
the broccoli raab and mustard have begun to blossom, too.
Otherwise, we’ve returned to mulching,
and finished covering the entire driveway
and now working on the walking paths
that meander up the hillside and toward the house.
During the rainy days, these paths got quite soggy and muddy,
and we noticed that where we had mulched the driveway,
the water ran underneath the mulch and made walking on top easier,
like walking on carpeting, so while there is still roadside mulch,
we decided to do all our walking paths.
In other news, we found some tadpoles swimming around
in the deep puddle over by the honeysuckle fence near the ruin.
There’s at least a dozen, perhaps more.
Since it was a small pond during the rains,
I’m sure they were quite comfortable,
but as it’s been drying up,
their oasis is quite murky.
So we’ve begun relocating the tadpoles to our pond.
Three moved the first day, and then a few more each day,
so far a dozen, but I thought I saw another in there yesterday.
(Update: turns out there were a few more; we’re up to fifteen!)
And since we had the time,
we had been doing some pruning,
mostly to free some cork oaks from shrubbery and other saplings.
We also have at least another dozen stone oak saplings to remove,
because they’re overcrowding our corks and fruit trees.
Some we hope to transplant, or gift to friends,
because we hate killing trees, and want to use their holes for planting in,
and because the trees aren’t large enough to be useful for firewood yet.
And over the long holiday weekend,
we’ve been baking, painting with Marmalade,
and back into the garden,
planting another batch of rainbow carrots,
and another two rows of rainbow beets
during Saturday’s Root time.
And giving all the planted seeds a good soaking.
Many seeds from the past few weeks have emerged:
aside from the rainbow beets and carrots,
purple kohlrabi, red swiss chard, garlic chives,
and a second batch of broccoli raab and spinach have all sprouted.
Also, a whole patch of something else has emerged
and is growing it’s second sets of leaves, but for the life of me,
I can’t remember what I might of planted there,
and don’t recognize these little plants at all.
Saturday night was a short Flower time,
so I planted a few lupines in our yard,
and potted up some of the purple artichokes.
(I had run an experiment with the artichoke seeds:
directly planting some in little pots in our cold frame,
and sprouting some in a wet towel before planting.
So far, nine of the sprouting dozen have sprouted,
so those I’ve potted up, and a few
have since emerged and leafed out.
Only one of the cold frame ones have sprouted so far,
though that could be due to the cold frame
being a bit cooler than my kitchen counter.)
Next Flower time, I’ll soak another dozen to sprout.
And then figure out where we can plant some more of them.
(I figure I’ll try to sprout about forty of them,
and then gift a few seeds each to friends with large yards.
For the past two days,
Marmalade’s school has been meeting up
with the other local elementary schools
for their Carnival celebrations.
It is common in much of Europe for children
to wear typical Halloween-like costumes
(princesses, ninja turtles and other cartoon characters)
and there are usually performances and parades.
Marmalade’s teacher has a different approach,
where they handmade and painted their costumes in class.
And she cast each one of her students into
Neve Branca & o 7 Anoês (Snow White & the 7 Dwarves).
Marmalade, and all the other youngest children were dwarves.
And of all the dwarves, Marmalade was Bashful (with the yellow tunic),
which was very fitting since she is quiet and shy in class.
We missed Thursday’s festivities, as it was just for the students,
but happily attended the Friday costume parade through Zambujeira.
It was great to see Marmalade fitting in so well,
seeming to really be a part of her class now;
and we were overjoyed for her to have the Carnival experience,
including traditional desserts and sweets at their party afterwards.
It’s nice to finally feel like we’re a part of a community.
Her friend Said finally returned from Morocco,
and it was great to see him and his parents, Ali and Malika,
very cool people who we missed these past two months.
So much has happened since mid-December
that catching up with them will take some time.
Hopefully we’ll get another chance to see them
over the long holiday weekend.
And while overdoing it, Mohamed hurt his back.
While loading mulch into the trunk of our car,
or maybe while carrying barrels of blackberries to the compost,
he upset an old injury from a falling-onto-a-fence accident.
He’s begun doing self-acupuncture,
using spines from a cactus in our yard,
to ease the pain and unblock channels for recovery.
While slowing our progress for certain yard projects,
(while he takes time to rest, recover, and recuperate)
this has given me an opportunity to refocus on gardening:
clearing and preparing our yard to extend the garden,
as I want to at least triple our planting space this first season.
First and foremost, it had been 4 days of Root time,
so we’ve been clearing out the rest of the last garden box,
planting more beets and carrots (thanks Dad for the new seeds!),
and making space for the last 9 potato transplants that I’ll put in next Root trine.
As it has gotten a bit warmer and very Spring-like,
some of our winter kale and arugula have begun to flower.
We have so much arugula that the bunches I pick daily aren’t noticeable
in the sea of green leaves that is our first garden box.
And I’ve been harvesting the lower leaves of the kale tonight,
(for the most incredible garden kale, (our own) chanterelle, and roasted squash calzone)
while leaving the flower stalks to bloom and go to seed,
as I’m out of kale seeds and will want to plant more this fall.
Also, we’ve just received fifty seeds for artichokes,
the purple Italian Violetta di Chiogga heirloom variety,
so during Flower time, I began soaking and planting seeds.
As each plant will need a square meter of space,
I’ve been planning and clearing out a space for our artichoke patch.
This area of the yard had once been used as a garden,
but that was at least a dozen years ago.
So I’ve got a lot of work to do to revive it.
Downhill and adjacent to the artichoke patch,
I’ve begun clearing a nice flat area for my “three sisters” patch.
The Native American concept of the “three sisters” are an interplanting
of corn, beans and winter squash, each plant benefitting the others for compatible growing.
I’ll be experimenting with growing popcorn, various local and Austrian beans,
and winter squash seeds (hokkaido, blue ballet, & butternut)
that I’ve saved from all the organic squash we’ve eaten since moving to Europe.
Although I won’t be growing these plants until late Spring,
I’m clearing the area now to plant some buckwheat as a cover crop,
giving the area a boost of blossoms and then, once dug under, green manure.
Also, downhill from our garden boxes towards the compost,
I want to extend the garden in a semicircular space,
using the wild mint as a boundary,
to create another planting place.
Originally, I thought about planting asparagus there this Spring,
but now think I might use the area for other plants this season,
since I don’t think I’ll have enough room for cucumbers and the loofah squash,
and plant out asparagus next year, after enriching the soil.
Just beyond this area, yesterday I found a few thorny bushes under the overgrowth.
I’m not exactly sure what they are, but as they look like they were intentionally planted,
I’m assuming they’re some type of German berry bush that the previous owners put in.
They might be Stachelbeeren, I’ll try to identify them once they leaf out or blossom.
With the warmer temperatures, much of the surrounding towns
and even some parts of our yard seem like Spring has already sprung
(one yard we passed by today already had saucer magnolias in full bloom);
while other sections of our property are still in their Winter dormancy.
These changes in the weather seem normal for here,
and so I’ve been observing all of our microclimates
to understand the patterns for years to come.
This Friday and Saturday were the final Flower transplanting times for this cycle,
so we’re super busy planting bulblets from the wild irises from the water Spring,
repotting flowers (I just got a new one from the teahouse that holds our Portuguese classes),
and transplanting honeysuckles from our ruin
and wild irises from the forest.
Otherwise, Nutella’s not doing so well.
Her tumor has grown to triple size in only a few weeks.
The veterinarian looked really sad during her last check-up,
(as she’s grown quite fond of Nut, too),
saying that there wasn’t much she can do,
and warning us of the inevitable.
But she is still herself:
napping on the sofa, laying in the sun, and begging for food;
and doesn’t seem to be in much pain,
so we’re just trying to keep her comfortable.
Focusing on flowers has helped keep the tears away.
So after we got back home,
we figured out how to put together the arbor for behind our bedroom window.
It is made from wood railings we found while hiking in the woods in Austria,
with wood scrap found here in the center, supporting our water line.
Marmalade helped put it together once we all got back from her school.
Along the sides, we’ve got three cork planters now full of honeysuckle transplants,
to add a bit of life, and bumblebee food, to that part of our place.
Today switches over to a couple of Leaf days,
so I plan to plant more spinach.
And clean up a bit (or hopefully a lot)
since the architects are coming for a site visit this week.
We have frogs!
At least three, all living in our pond.
Which is great, because the insects have taken notice and started to move in,
so the frogs are extremely welcome to eat, drink and be merry.
And make their adorable communications at dusk.
They occasionally make loud croaking noises,
it almost sounds like a off-key ducks quacking, especially around dusk,
and started last week with the first one probably calling its friends over,
but today we heard three distinct voices,
and have seen two lounging on the cattails,
while a third had splooshed into the pond as we approached.
We are really excited to have a pond,
and have put a lot of work into keeping it flowing.
it is a natural puddle that was dug deeper into the clay,
now with a few clusters of cattails growing within,
but naturally won’t hold most of its volume.
So we ran a hose into it from our gardening water,
and so the water flows downhill and bubbles into the pond,
keeping the water aerated and preventing stagnation.
I’ve cleared the overgrowth from around its banks,
and during the next Flower transplanting time,
I will transplant several wild irises from the nearby woods,
and also several dozen of the wild iris seeds,
that I’ve collected from stalks in the patch growing at the nearby Spring,
replanting them all around the perimeter of the pond,
to bring some color to that part of the yard.
During the most recent Flower transplanting time,
we moved more of the honeysuckle vines
out of the ruin and onto the fenceposts in front.
There is also a wild rosebush growing out of the front of the roof
that we plan to move that to a nearby fencepost as well.
(The ruin is built of tiapa, compressed earth,
so very fertile for these wildflowers.)
There is also a huge old grapevine trailing over the wall
from the neighbors’ yard. We intend to nurture it as much as possible,
incorporating it into our patio trellis, and encouraging it to form roots down on our side.
The ruin is now completely cleared of blackberry bushes,
and after a few more Flower and Fruit transplanting days,
will be cleared of honeysuckles and some saplings as well.
We met with our neighbor that owns the rest of the ruin last weekend,
to discuss property boundaries, building plans, and such.
He’s an elderly Dutch man, who also gave us some history of the area:
the ruin across the street used to be a mill, set on a canal from our river.
The canal has been filled in, now planted with bamboo.
The ruin (that we partially own, we have the workshop/stable,
he owns the four-room house itself) was the birthplace
of the father of the farmer who lives uphill from all of us.
Upon someone’s death, the land was split up by inheritance,
and the ruin, too, was divided.
Their section of the ruin is beautiful,
totally overgrown with trees inside the rooms.
I dream of clearing out the blackberries
and transforming their space into a flower garden,
but I like it as is, and am really glad that they have left it untouched.
They also own the land directly across the street from us,
that is very fertile land completely overrun with blackberries,
it would make great goat pasture.
But as for our land, at the moment we have our hands full.
There are some overgrown oak trees intermixed with blackberries,
really they are tangles of sucker-growth from big old stumps,
intertwined with blackberries, creating unhealthy, unbalanced growth.
So we’ve been pruning them back, uncovering a cactus garden in the process.
It has been a lot of work,
during which my mind keeps pondering
about the spaces we tend,
and the spaces left untended.
Years ago, while reading a book on Fungshui for the home,
I came across a passage about how clutter disrupts the flow within a room,
and how the placement of the clutter can have reverberations in the rest of life.
So expanding the concept and applying it to our property,
any neglected area of our yard will affect more than its own space,
any place not tended with love could infect those that are.
Since these neglected areas surround our home,
especially clustered on a hillside above our bedroom,
I think it is essential to transform this space:
a terraced pathway full of strawberry fields.
Once these oak trees are pruned back and reined in,
we will have a lot more sunny hillside with rick soil for planting strawberries.
Thanks to my brother and sister-in-law who sent us strawberry seeds for Christmas,
enough for 50 square meters (450 square feet) of strawberry fields,
so we’ll be clearing a lot of land for planting them.
We also will be transplanting a fig tree cutting nearby,
because they grow really well here and we love figs
almost as much as we love strawberries.
Both are great fresh,
fingers dripping with their juices.
Every morning when we awake,
we are relieved that this is our home.
We are so grateful to live here.
Last weekend a Swiss couple from our Portuguese class came to visit
with their four-year-old son, Sebastian. He and Marmalade played really nice,
even holding hands while walking through the path in the bamboo forest.
They live about 10 minutes away, on 11 hectares of land,
on the winding road that leads to one of the markets
(passing four horses, two pigs, a few goats, and countless fields of sheep).
We plan to stop and visit their homestead on our next shopping trip.
It’s nice to have friendly people come to visit, share advice,
and slowly becoming friends through our weekly interactions.
And as our Portuguese skills become more extensive,
we are more able to communicate with the locals:
mostly farmers and shepherds from the older generations,
who have all been kind, friendly, and generous,
especially once Marmalade smiles and says “Bom Día”
which warms even the most guarded hearts.
I’m sure some might be suspicious of foreigners moving in,
yet those that we’ve met, and who’ve seen the work we’ve been doing,
have given kindly nods and wave, sometimes stopping for short chats;
which has gone a long way in making us feel at home here.
It’s now the weekend,
and today is a rainy Root trine,
during Northern transplanting time,
so today I planted out our first batch of sprouted potato tops,
between passing showers.
Our weekly Portuguese lessons have been going well,
and now, through Marmalade’s school, we have weekly homework, too.
Each week she gets to bring home a new book,
and we have the week to read, reread, and discuss it;
I’m sure we will all learn a lot of new vocabulary.
This week’s book is about a lion and a kangaroo (o leão & o canguru).
Also, we went back to the veterinarian last Friday for a check-up.
I really like this vet, (much more so than our vet in Austria, or any from America)
and appreciate her version of compassionate care, cleaning her wound,
and not rushing into a possibly life-ending surgery if antibiotics will help her.
Nutella has greatly improved, and seems herself again, alert and tail wagging,
so much so that any passersby would not suspect that she is ill.
We went back again this Tuesday, for another wound cleaning.
This time a whole lot of grossness came out,
and continues to ooze out of her open wound.
In the end, I think she would benefit from the surgery,
to remove the infected tumor, even if it was only a short-term solution,
but the vet won’t risk an operation and is just trying to heal her infection.
On Thursday it rained, and so I spent more time inside,
unpacking some more stuff (yup, still haven’t finished), and baking:
lots of pizza dough, sourdough crumpets, and chocolate buttermilk cupcakes (yum!)
During breaks in the rain, we worked on the driveway over by the bamboo fence,
not quite finished with the bamboo fence, which will probably be a flower trellis,
but finally finished that section of driveway.
Over the weekend, I cleared three barrels of blackberries from the ruin,
so much so that we can now easily reach the back wall,
which has the coolest lichen growing on it.
A few more barrels and we’ll be able to reach the far right wall,
and then we can contact the architect for an on-site visit,
to plan how to renovate the ruin into a small guesthouse,
and hopefully get advice, assistance, materials and help
with our bathroom, especially the bathroom roof.
But once is switched over to first a brief Flower and then a long Leaf time,
I’ve spent a lot of time gardening, clearing out areas for planting:
more broccoli rabe, cilantro, swiss chard, lettuce and spinach,
and added new sections for purple kohlrabi and garlic chives
(which are both new plants for me to attempt growing).
Actually, I learned that kohlrabi is quite a new plant, as far as plants go,
being first bred in the 1500’s in what-is-now Germany.
While out collecting wood chips last week, we found a huge patch of wild fennel.
So we were clearing out a section of our yard to make their new home,
and transplanted several this morning, during the end of the Leaf time,
as well as clearing space for some purple artichokes that my father has sent the seeds for.
Today is Groundhogs Day,
not that there are any groundhogs here, but if there were,
they wouldn’t have seen their shadows, as we’ve had a light drizzle this morning,
so it’s the end of winter, which seems right since our low temperatures
have been around 12 degrees Celsius (50-something Fahrenheit).
Perfect for gardening.