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[...]
moonfarmers’ first residents
As hoped for, we had friends come to stay and help eats plums,
each eating at least their two dozen quota of plums per day.
And since they are both sustainable farming researchers,
their assistance far surpassed plums:
they’ve devised a low-tech gravity pump to access water from our well,
designed a low-cost, low-tech solar hot water system on our bedroom roof,
and brainstormed a dam system for the inlet of our canal water system.
Nadine also planned and set-up an innovative composting dry toilet,
in which the waste is easily composted and returned to the soil,
ideally used for planting fruit trees on top of our hillside.
Felipe also offered suggestions to improve our composting process
(flipping more often, moister & with smaller pieces)
and while investigating our current compost piles,
discovered that several of the composted date pits,
from Mohamed’s grandfather’s trees, had sprouted,
so we transplanted those into containers.
While they’ve been brainstorming and testing out their ideas,
I’ve been in the kitchen, making two kinds of plum sauce and plum chutney,
and working a lot in the garden, mostly sowing seeds: catnip for Tuna,
more bi-color sweet corn, more pink-eyed peas and purple bush beans in the garden,
and scattering the crushed pods of our arugula hybrid as a “mulch” under the tomatoes.
And harvesting: all the remaining plums, lots of carrots, bush beans, tomatoes;
and lots of onions and handfuls of orange basil, lamb’s quarters, purslane, and sorrel,
which sautéed together made a tasty, citrusy topping for pasta.
I’ve also been harvesting more of the lemon cucumbers,
which are very mild and sweet, and slightly fruity,
lacking the compounds that make cucumbers difficult to digest,
and their fun, lemon-size makes them easy to add to salads.
During the recent Fruit/Seed transplanting times,
we got the nine remaining Käferbohnen into Horta Nova,
and transplanted one Napolitana fig into the hillside,
and two others into large flowerpots by the porch.
All the sweet corn and melon seeds from last Fruit time have sprouted,
and are receiving the TLC treatment until their spaces are ready in the old compost bin.
On the other side of the old bin, the loofah squash are doing great,
and have a few small looflets on their vines.
And finally an eggplant seed sprouted!
I think our nights might have been too cool until recently for germination.
Fortunately, we have a really long growing season.
Now that the plums have all been picked and either sauced or eaten,
our digestive systems are returning to normal again,
so we’re planning which other fruits we want in abundance:
figs, obviously, since we just got three more trees,
and a few more peaches and maybe a nectarine,
and apricots, since we just saved twelve organic pits,
and maracuja, since we scooped and saved dozens of their seeds,
though I’ll need to research how to sprout them.
Our seedling lemon and nespera (loquats) trees are nestled in the cold frame,
coming along nicely and slowly with several leaves of healthy growth.
During the end of July, there is a recommended time to plant fruit seeds,
so all these saved pots and seeds will await sowing until then.
Today is Marmalade’s last day of school until Fall,
and our first residents’ last day of their first residency;
so, as usual, we have a busy day planned ahead,
also, as usual, ending with an afternoon trip to the beach.
Last night swung from Fruit into Root time, so dinner was quite rooted:
Einkorn (an ancient wheat) rice with garden carrots, parsnips, onions, garlic and dill.
Since it is still a Root day today,
I just planted the remaining sweet potato sprouts into the garden.
And will be harvesting more onion flowers to make more infused sesame oil.
And plan to make more beet chips for a midday snack.
With moonfarmers we always hoped to host an artist residency
using the term “artist” broad enough to include
all sorts of designers, scientists, and other creatives
that want to further the mission of a sustainable future.
And eventually build some treehouses.
Right now residents are hosted in a spacious tent,
with most meal provided fresh from the garden.
Anybody else interested in joining the moonfarm,
please just let us know.
An unfavorable day yesterday gave me a chance to step back;
and reflect on the Springtime we’ve just had,
and the visitors that have come and gone,
and, among other things, I realized that I never completed my thoughts in the previous post.
Most noticeably, that in the garden, I am constantly being humbled,
by the successes of randomness that happen at the fringes of my garden.
It is humbling.
Humbling is a good thing,
especially when we learn from it.
And I hope to learn a lot from these expressions of growth:
the tomatillos that I carefully tended aren’t thriving as well as the one that grew
from a seed that found its way to the Earth through a tear in the seed packet,
and now stunningly growing at the edge of Horta Nova.
Indeed it must’ve been sown at its favorable Fruit time,
since I would only have the packet outside then.
And indeed it fortunately fell onto cultivated soil,
between a sunflower and a hokkaido squash plant.
And I left the seedling to grow because it looked friendly.
Undeterred, I will plant more tomatillos tomorrow during the Fruit trine,
to see if I can encourage more to reach their full potential.
Also humbling (& delicious!) is the experimental flowerpot
that was filled with the soil from unsprouted seed cups.
Although growing in an overcrowded space with limited soil,
these bush beans have grown larger, lusher, and more bountiful than their garden rivals.
The tomato is twice as large as any of its relatives in the garden,
and the dill is just incredible.
Funny, I’ve tried numerous times to grow dill,
but the seeds’ requirements have proved daunting.
Luckily, some of our compost was chock-full of dill seeds,
that seem to sprout and thrive wherever they are planted:
with the lettuce, in the artichoke patch, in with a blueberry,
next to the loofahs, and even in flowerpots of morning glories.
Sure, seed sprouting is a miracle of chance,
and every seed will not survive, no matter where its sown, and when;
and I have no idea how many accidental seedings didn’t sprout.
But for those that do, the plants are incredible.
Awe-inspiring, even; for I am in awe.
And I am inspired:
to save the seeds from these mammoth dill plants,
hoping that they will thrive here like their parents.
Unexpectedly, I’ve really gotten into seed-saving,
allowing many of the best garden plants to go to seed.
Sure, to observe their process and harvest the seeds for future crops,
but mostly to honor their purpose in their life…
why they sprouted in the first place.
Speaking of sprouting,
my arugula-kale cross-breeding experiment is showing great promise:
several green rosettes have sprouted in the garden,
not quite arugula, not quite kale,
but an edible tender green when cooked,
growing underneath and around the tomatoes
and thriving in the heat of the summer season
when the arugula and kale don’t do so well.
I have been hulling tons of these seeds,
half a jar from the arugula parents
and half a jar from the kale plants;
enough for continuous cultivation forever.
The morning glories grown from our seeds are incredibly vibrant,
more so than others planted from purchased or gathered seeds,
and more colorful, lush and plentiful than their parent plants
from a windowsill patch from Marmalade’s room in Austria.
Reorientation is about adapting
to whatever gets thrown at you.
The rouge tomatillo and volunteer dill reminded me of this lesson.
That life is about surviving, and adapting, in order to thrive.
New visitors are always disorienting,
partly because the trip here is disorienting for them,
(since we live off-the-map as much as off-the-grid)
and partly because I’ve always been a creature of habit,
and my habits shift to accommodate others’ schedules.
Yet our visitors provide a chance to step back,
and to explore new places in Portugal.
(& eat cheesecake! Let’s not forget the cheesecake!)
Through this I find my way from disoriented to reoriented;
as seeing our situation through these fresh eyes
brings a renewed sense of the endless possibilities.
And nothing brings me renewal like a swim in the ocean;
as floating adrift clears my head and refreshes my soul.
And the waves are incredible…
as in this video of the inside of a wave
from Praia Vale dos Homnes last weekend.
Like much of the Northern hemisphere,
we’ve recently had an atypical heat wave,
which forced most of our garden plants
to reorient as well, if they are to survive.
And most things did.
Horta Nova is coming along great.
All the plants are alive and doing well:
the sunflowers are all abloom,
and so are the first of the beans.
The strawberry popcorn are knee-high,
and the hokkaido squashes are all lush.
And in the rest of the yard, things are blooming incredibly:
especially the squashes and sunflowers,
and the morning glories from my own seeds;
and others are growing exponentially:
especially all the watermelons;
while others are ripening swiftly:
such as the first of the lemon cucumbers,
and the insane number of plums from our two trees,
and the yellow bush beans, and the first few tomatoes.
So I made a small bean, parsnip, and tomato salad,
adding lots of the orange basil to the garden salad.
And falling into Root time, I also made a potato salad,
with some garden potatoes, green onion, and dill.
Harvesting out some of the Spring crops has made room in the garden,
so there is room for new life, with new plant neighbors,
and a reorienting of their relationships.
I’ve already planted some violet bush beans in with the wild thyme,
and a few dozen pink-eyed cowpeas in between the seeding spinach.
And I’ve started twenty-two honey and cream bicolor sweet corn seeds,
and some heirloom eggplants and cantaloupes in yogurt cups,
hoping to transplant them soon after their sprouting
to take advantage of the space and the weather.
(Thanks to my mom for bringing a new selection of warm-season seeds!)
Before we depart Root time,
I picked more parsnips and carrots for soups.
And hulled the French breakfast radish seeds,
as they’ve dried and are ready for storage.
And now I’m brainstorming what to make with all the plums,
besides plum sauce, plum chutney, and Pflaumenküchen.
Unfortunately they aren’t freestone;
so pitting them all will be challenging,
and I can only eat two dozen a day out of hand.
During Fruit time we harvested five big bowls of them,
and the trees are still loaded with fruit.
So, anyone interested in coming over to eat plums?
The silk worm butterflies emerged from their cocoons;
and apparently set to work laying their little yellow eggs.
We really like their cool, wispy antennas,
which resemble their mulberry leaves .
There are a ton of butterflies flittering around our yard,
which makes my morning watering routine very colorful.
I’ve also enjoyed watching our tadpoles grow large,
as our population of frogs steadily increases.
Most of the tadpoles are in the white plastic tub,
(fitting, since it was once Marmalade’s bathtub);
occasionally they get sucked into the watering can during refilling,
and those have been relocated to the pond.
I wonder if they consider it some kind of alien abduction.
We have dozens of junior frogs that hang all around the pond,
probably some of the tadpoles we moved over in the late winter.
We have more frogs’ eggs on both the pond and the plastic tub,
so this cycle will be continuing for awhile.
Speaking of the circle of life,
we’ve had a bunch of cool-looking beetles doing their thing.
Odd that each species has its chosen plant to mate on,
and throughout the yard, they tend to stick to that one plant.
Here’s some cool mask-like beetles on the mustard,
and these orange and black ones near the pond,
up on a wildflower stalk that overhangs the water lily,
which has begun blooming again. Woo-hoo!
Here’s Tuna hanging out next to the pond, too.
He follows me around in the mornings when I’m doing my watering rounds.
In other news, we got the the blueberry bush planted with its friends
(in the hole that was used for our bbq last week)
and the three cranberries transplanted near the pond.
Also, on a whim, we bought a dark olive tree,
so that joins the other olives up on the hillside.
Our pomegranate tree is blooming again,
while a few more buds await their turn.
Otherwise, all the other trees have finished blossoming,
and some have fruits ripening in the sunshine.
And the gooseberry and golden raspberries
give us a few ripened berries each morning.
Now that I’ve sampled a few of their amber fruits,
I must say that I’m a huge fan of the golden razzies,
and plan to plant more next Spring to fill in the area.
I’m always excited during Flower times;
there is always the glow of growth to inspire us to keep gardening.
In particular, the roses have been splendid.
And the sunflowers…
So full of bees,
We love watching the progression of buds to blossoms to seeds.
And the miniature blossoms
(& miniature cucumbers)
on the Mexican cucumbers.
The first of the garlic and onion bulbs are blooming;
some we’ve eaten unopened as scapes,
some I’ve immersed to flavor sesame oil,
and others I’m allowing to blossom,
to feed the pollinators while I watch their progression,
as I’m very curious to grow out their seeds.
Since it’s now Fruit time,
I picked a bunch of the tart cherries that are ripening
(& getting devoured by birds) on two trees downhill.
I’ve never baked with tart cherries,
so I might explore recipes for ratios and inspiration,
and plan to make a sweetened fruit glaze for a cheesecake
(because I’ve been craving cheesecake for over a month now).
And during this Fruit time, I’ve been weeding Horta Nova, which is growing nicely.
Meanwhile, Marmalade has taken over the artistic efforts of our house,
redecorating our sofa, and walls, and carpet with her unique vision.
often there’s a cool breeze with high clouds floating by.
It’s great for working in the garden.
During the super-favorable Root time
(due to a Root trine during the Root time)
I harvested the French breakfast radish seeds,
and dug up the first third of our potato patch.
That evening I made roasted potato and sweet potato wedges,
to have with a kohlrabi-carrot-apple salad
that I made earlier in the day
and ate by the spoonful
every time I walked by.
I started to root little eyes from the tops of two sweet potatoes,
hoping they sprout leaves and then can join the garden
over where the potatoes were just unearthed.
They are a prolific local crop here,
so here’s hoping they grow roots.
We’ve also been working on the outdoor kitchen area,
adding wooden steps/benches and more stones at the edges.
Day by day this place is getting a little bit nicer.
And a little greener.
I got four more berry bushes from Aldi:
three cranberries and a blueberry.
The cranberries will go down by the pond
next to the elderberry bush.
And the blueberry will join its friends on the hillside,
once we get a stubborn oak root out of its hole,
and Mohamed thought there’s no better way than with a barbecue.
It has been the weekend,
so I have been trying to relax a bit,
by blowing some bubbles
and actually sitting down,
which Tuna encourages by napping on my lap every time I do.
(Though admittedly, his naps don’t last long,
because it has been a super-favorable Root time,
& the carrots, beets & onions all needed weeding.)
As the first Monday of the new month,
we went to the mercado in São Teotónio.
I was hoping to find a guava tree,
since they had them last month
(& after doing some research
found that they grow well here),
but to no avail.
So we got a yellow kiwi vine,
to befriend our three green kiwis.
Since kiwis are not entirely cold-hardy,
I will simply repot it on the next Fruit time,
so that we can bring it and its friends inside on cold winter nights.
Next Spring, when they are all a bit larger and more durable,
we will plant them on the hillside outside the front door
(once we install some bamboo beams over the porch,
so that each may climb up its own support,
& provide shade & life at our entryway).
After school, we all went to the beach,
because it’s a fun way for Marmalade to unwind after school.
And for dinner tonight,
I made a grape and rosemary focaccia,
with the first trimmings of our garden rosemary,
(but not our ruin’s grapes, which won’t be ready for months)
to go with a garlic scape and potato barley soup,
with garden garlic scapes, potatoes, broccoli florets,
and lamb’s quarters, a wild edible I’m propagating in the garden.
So it seems fitting to hit the beach on these days:
collecting seawater for cooking pasta and soups,
collecting seaweed for homemade fertilizer tea,
gathering washed-up fishing ropes for woven carpets,
grabbing driftwood for the playhouse and outdoor shower,
and for swimming, of course.
Lots of swimming.
We love swimming.
And communing with the nautical nature,
including the various mollusks and crustaceans,
and checking in on the storks nesting cliffside.
Their little storklets are really visible when you’re out swimming,
yet less so from the shore where I felt safe using our camera.
Every time we are at the ocean
I think “we should do this more often” and yet, we do.
Since it’s gotten warm, we go about every other day.
Thank goodness. For these mini-vacations.
Because this Fruit time has been a doozy.
We got everything that was ready transplanted
into the Three Sisters Garden in Horta Nova:
29 strawberry popcorn seedlings,
26 hokkaido squash seedlings,
and nine Käferbohnen beans.
(Because of the scale of this project,
and the fact that it is now Ramadan,
we did most of this work under the moonlight,
pulling two very long nights in a row to get it in.
It reminded us of past sculptural projects,
up til stupid-o’clock in the morning
frantically trying to meet a deadline.)
Yet this was more relaxed, more serene,
more of a quiet spiritual time,
as each planting is a prayer, isn’t it?
Asking whoever to please watch over these seedlings.
The Three Sisters planting has always been a sacred planting,
as the Sisters: corn, squash and beans are held as sacred plants,
goddesses, if you will, that provide sustenance and life itself.
I also transplanted the nine chickpeas into the garden,
because I really love chickpeas, as the legume, yes, but also the plant.
The leaves are unique, the pods very sculptural, the peas so cool.
And I put the two watermelon seedlings in the agave hole near the pond,
and the three golden popcorn seedlings in with the tomatillos.
And although I thought I’d run out of time,
I also got the last two Mexican cucumbers
and four orange bell peppers into the garden.
And planted a few more bush beans,
as the first have begun flowering,
(& successive plantings ensure a longer harvest,
without being inundated with ripe produce all at once).
We also transplanted the three new golden raspberries
to fill in between the two we got at the mercado in April.
We ate the first golden raspberry in the morning while transplanting:
as promised, it is a sweeter, less tart, but very flavorful berry.
We’ve also been sampling the gooseberries,
as a few seem ripe each morning.
Delicious. Great flavor.
And their Portuguese name “Uva Crispa” makes sense
because “uva” are grapes and they really do seem like crisp grapes,
though they grow on a low, thorny bush,
that sends out low branches to reroot.
I accidentally unearthed one runner while weeding this Spring,
and potted it up, thinking to grow it and then gift to friends.
Now that I’ve tasted them,
I am eager to propagate more runners,
and establish a whole gooseberry patch.
But in the meantime,
I think we need a few days off from planting.
And as we have four days of Root time,
we will be taking that break from hole digging.
And harvesting the radish seeds.
And rooting sweet potato sprouts.
Yet Aldi has berry bushes on sale tomorrow morning,
so we might be bringing home more than groceries,
and have a few more holes to dig next week.