Maple Ridge now has a structural edible maze for residents and visitors alike to wander through as part of an initiative taken by the city’s resident artist.
Natali Leduc, who is doing her artist residency with the City of Maple Ridge, launched the A-Maze-A-Tron 2200, a sculptural edible maze located on the lawn of the Fern Crescent Artist Residency. The artist put out a call for participants earlier this year to build this community project.
More than 40 participants from four to 82 years old, including a 4-H group, have contributed to the project so far in building the maze. People also contributed branches, seeds and seedlings.
“There is always something to do for anyone who wants to participate. We follow a COVID-19 protocol to keep everybody safe. If anyone is interested, they can just e-mail me on firstname.lastname@example.org,” said Leduc.
The walls of the maze are built with sticks, twine and straw, and Leduc and the community participants are growing vegetables, herbs and edible flowers directly in the straw, following a technique developed by Joel Karsten who wrote a few books about it.
Leduc first came across the idea of a maze when Leanne Koehn visited her and told her that her husband, James Rowley, had made a maze in their yard just by cutting paths in the high grass when their children were younger.
“I really liked this idea, I asked their permission to use this idea, and did the same. I opened the maze to anyone who was passing by,” said Leduc, adding that this year she wanted to combine the maze with a garden.
“I wanted the maze to be more visually complex. I also realized that most vegetables like growing in full sun, so I wanted to move the garden onto the lawn, which gets more sun. The pandemic also influenced this choice. I read that a lot of people, just like me, started gardening during the pandemic. I think part of this comes from the desire to be self-sufficient. It also helps relieve some stress, while empowering people: despite all the restrictions, we can still ‘do’ something productive and positive,” she said.
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The planning for the maze and garden started in December 2020, and the physical work started near the end of March.
She is now inviting people to enter the A-Maze-A-Tron 2200 throughout the summer to experience how it changes through the season. Visitors will be invited to pick some vegetables when the items are ready.
”The A-Maze-A-Tron 2200 is currently open to visitors, but we are still adding to it. There are over 100 types of vegetables, herbs and edible flowers at different stages (from seeds to fully grown plants)… Have I mentioned slugs and bugs?” Leduc said, adding that it is important for visitors to read the rules before entering the maze. “While it is an edible maze, not all parts of all plants are edible. Also, a pepper might look very appetizing, but it could also be a very hot pepper, which could hurt a child if they put it in their mouth.”
She is hoping to keep the maze open until October to coincide with her other community project Pumpkinotron 440 – which will be a display of illuminated cosmic pumpkins.
“The maze is a metaphor for our lives, with its multiple paths, detours, and its dead-ends. It’s not just about finding the exit but also about enjoying the journey and finding ‘treasures’ along the way,” said Leduc.
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