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Jeff Schmuki
Recycled Ceramic Large Sized "Mills"
Root System
Organic Chard Grown From Mills

Armagardden + DIY Ball Mill = Community Chard and Kale

Exhibited in Food Justice: Growing Healthier Community through Art at Contemporary Craft & In-Service: Engaging and Connecting through Clay at the Northern Clay Center exhibition during NCECA. Recycled bisque and earthenware,  parts for ball mill, red Georgia clay. Garden produced three successive crops of chard and kale that were harvested by the community and shared with others.


Armagardden features a do-it-yourself ball mill and hydroponic system constructed from cast-off machinery and materials. The ball mill grinds discarded bisque into smooth ceramic pebbles, recycling earthenware/terra-cotta refuse into a growth medium or a substitute for normal soil. The installation also includes the community tending to the garden with the harvested chard and kale going to Soup for You, a program offering organic food and a safe place for all at Bethany Lutheran Church. 


Ceramics as a growth medium is pH neutral and inert, porous and lightweight, does not compact and is completely reusable once sterilized. This kind of medium drains freely and does not hold excessive water providing good oxygen levels for root development making ceramics particularly suitable for flood and drain systems.  In drip irrigation, ceramics can be mixed with other growth mediums to provide capillary action so the nutrient feed dissipates broadly preventing salt buildup. These works capitalize on the physical characteristics of ceramics while supporting relational activities. These fully functional hydroponic gardens blur the boundaries between utility and the aesthetic, functionalism and symbolism. 

Helpful Links on how to build your own hydroponic garden!

DIY Ball Mill Instructions

Below is how to construct a ball mill from easily found parts. 

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