Last week, while on the hunt for a cornfield to light in York Pennsylvania, we encountered our very first objector- a simple, stubborn landowner, who expressed no desire in breaking down fences. The story goes something like this:
We knew we wanted to light a cornfield, so we went to a place we were familiar with- a local produce shop and farm that we had purchased many veggies and homemade goodies from in the past. We explained our Art work to the female side of the mom and pop produce shop and told her that we wanted to use their cornfield as the subject. After asking her son about the condition of their fields, she gave us permission to do the lighting and promised us that she would inform the neighbors of our project so that nobody would bother us (call the cops). So, at nighfall, we packed up our gear and set out to the field. We also had explained to the "mom" that our lights were LED and cool to the touch, so no harm would be done to the cornfield.
Not but 10 minutes after our arrival, the neighbors, and apparent landowners of this particular field, pulled up and sat across the street with their lights on and aimed directly towards us. They sat and watched us and did not attempt to come confront us or ask what we were doing... they just watched. And, we assumed, after they had sat there long enough, that they were in fact calling the police.
Since we realized what was going on, we decided that we would go talk to them and clear things up- after all, we did have permission to be there!! We proceeded towards the car in a non-confrontational manner and after introducing ourselves, we began to explain to them that the owners of this little produce company gave us permission to be there. We told them about our art work and the Kickstarter project that we had funded to do temporary light installations across the country. The male (husband) neighbor was gruff and unenthusiastic while explaining that this field was THEIR property and that the produce store only planted their corn there. He seemed to be in disbelief that we were not criminals. Still, with reluctance, the man called the owners of the produce store to verify our story. The male half of this produce store answered the phone and said that he had no idea about this project- BUMMER!
Remember, we had spoken to the female half, two separate times in a week actually, and she had assured us that all parties would be in the know. As it turns out, she was not home and had told NOBODY about our conversations. This was indeed frustrating, but what was even more irritating is that the owner of the land didn't believe us and even when we explained what we were doing and that it would be nothing but a beautiful piece of art with his cornfield as the subject, he said... "well, this is private property and we don't want you here, so you need to get on out of here." He explained that he didn't like us or the art we were making and if we didn't leave immediately, he would have the police there to arrest us!
So, we packed up quickly and left. It was very dark and we were pretty sure this guy had a shot gun and was not afraid to use it! Although we were disappointed by the encounter, we don't give up that easily, so we set out the next day to find a farm that would be accepting of our work. After putting out a call on FaceBook combined with the power of internet searching, we found a lovely farm called Flinchbaugh's complete with an orchard, pumpkin patch, and of course a huge five acre corn maze. We hopped in our big Ford E150, what we have affectionately termed the "Sports Van," and headed towards Flichbaugh's Farm. We spoke with a bubbly young owner, who, with no reluctance at all, showed us to the part of the cornfield we could light.
We learned from this that not everyone will be receptive to what we are doing, but we must still press on!
Thank you to Flinchbaugh's Farm and Orchard for allowing us to use your fields as our subject!