This project began in April 2018, with a meeting with potential participants and collaborators, at Halstow in Devon, England. The aim of this "round table," conversational event was to assess the possibilities of devising a research-creation/practice-led research project that would adapt local wassailiing conventions to draw attention to the human-microbial relations, and the more-than-human socialities that cider-making produces and reflects. Those who attended the first meeting included cidermakers, food historians, multispecies ethnographers, curators, vitalist philosophers, musicians, dialect speakers, and local residents. Ben Gray hosted the event, guiding guests around the farm, its orchards, barns and cider-making facilities. Over a meal of sourdough bread, unpasteurized cheese from the region, and Grays cider, there was a consensus that we should proceed, and to raise the necessary funding.
After a year of further development and fund-raising, the project went into production in the summer of 2019. Formal partnerships were established: with Ben and Ruth Gray of Grays Devon Cider, Dr. Sue Ruddick at the University of Toronto, and with the Social Science & Humanities Research Council in Canada. Arts Council England, and Royal Albert Memorial Museum Exeter provided additional funding support for the project's artistic work as the project gathered momentum, from mid-October – Cider Time – in 2019. §
Instagram photos courtesy of Ellie@HalstowFarm.