| Staff Directory The tree itself is a living sculpture. In his Tree of 40 Fruit, he transforms host plum trees into sustainable pieces of … Van Aken is doing his part to  keep these fruit species from disappearing. A young Tree of 40 Fruit in a public space (Krista Kennedy/Flickr/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) Not only is it a beautiful specimen, but it's also helping to preserve the diversity of the world's stone fruit. Seven are located in New York—including the very first Tree of 40 Fruit that’s still on the Syracuse campus—and six more are in a small grove in Portland, Maine. Other times, Van Aken uses a type of grafting involving just the buds. His latest project, based on the German concept of streuobstweise, or community orchards, is a step toward not only educating communities about the fruits native to their region, but also in engaging a younger generation in the fading tradition of growing food. It’s another example of how Van Aken manipulates nature to enhance its beauty. While others are content to follow their vision using pencils, brushes and a canvas, he’s using weather balloons, planes and clouds. The tree bears forty different types of stone fruits- including popular varieties like cherries, apricots, nectarines. After buying the orchard, he spent years trying to figure out the best way to create a multi-fruit tree by grafting parts of various trees onto it. The Inspiring Quest to Revive the Hawaiian Language, The New Science of Our Ancient Bond With Dogs, Why Seagrass Could Be the Ocean's Secret Weapon Against Climate Change. Get the best of Smithsonian magazine by email. This past fall he met with people from the agency’s Biological Technologies Office to share what he has learned about preserving heirloom and native varieties of fruit. “From the day it was planted,” he says, “it seemed to have some draw for people.”. Fourteen are installed around the country, most in public places, like Van Aken's at the center of the Syracuse campus -- alive and edible. He intended to produce a piece of natural art that would transform itself. 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Drawn from the ACC’s 15 campuses, the festival’s 48 exhibitions span civic engagement; art and technology; sustainability and environment; biomimetics; health and body; and making. “Even though I grew up in a farming community, grafting had this certain sort of mysticism to it,” he said. Van Aken estimates that it takes at least nine years for a Tree of 40 Fruit to reach its peak—that is five years for the grafts to develop and another four for the different fruit to appear. Dane won a. “It was this skill that was greatly admired. “I wanted to have a tree that blossomed in different colors,” said the Syracuse University professor, who learned about grafting as a child. This is a fantastic project that will not only change how we do fruit grafting but also how we grow fruits. Keep up-to-date on: © 2020 Smithsonian Magazine. You really cannot blame them. Some multi-fruit trees will be planted in the orchard, but most of the trees will provide only one type of fruit—the goal being to bring back local varieties that most people have never tasted. Syracuse artist Sam Van Aken is developing a tree that will bloom in pink, purple and red in the spring and bear 40 different fruits in the summer and fall. He is a contemporary artist who works beyond traditional art making and develops new perspective art projects in communication, botany, and agriculture . Regardless, this tree is 100 percent real with edible fruits. Well, that is what you get from Sam Van Aken. So, you can imagine having such a tree in your compound during spring when most of the plants are flowering. During summer, you get to enjoy a bumper harvest of 40 fruit types from each of the trees. Sam has plans of not only populating an orchard with them but planting more in several urban settings. Once a tree has 20 fruits on it, Van Aken will start to look for a home for the Tree of 40 Fruit. The Tree of 40 Fruits is also an exercise in patience. He thought of the tree as a sculpture, because he could, based on what he grafted where, determine how it morphed. There are also those that are already holding multiple grafting.