Lead Down the Garden Path

Lead Garden

Lead down the Garden Path - 1988 


Toronto's Garnet Press Gallery was located near a factory that had for years melted down lead from old automobile batteries. Significant quantities of lead were released into the air and as a result the soils in the area became contaminated. People were advised not to consume the vegetables they grew in their gardens and to keep their children from having contact with soil.  The majority of those gardening in the area were working class people of Portuguese and Italian descent, for whom the loss of home-grown produce had been a serious economic and cultural blow.

Lead Down the Garden Path was an attempt to draw the public's attention to this issue and to actually start cleaning up a patch of the soil using the heavy metal-absorbing capabilities of certain plants. To that end, I seeded the gallery's front garden with buckwheat to start drawing out some of the soil's accumulated toxicity. The image above shows me watering the newly germinated buckwheat plants. Also visible are empty bushel baskets, cornucopias with black flags and a large sign visible from the adjacent and very busy road.