Salinas Valley is one of the most productive agricultural regions in California, but it is riddled with obstacles in controlling soil erosion and water pollution which endanger our food supply, local ecosystems, and the neighboring Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. And as the valley’s population grows, conventional ways of preserving and burying the deceased only compounds the region’s pollution problems and habitat loss.
Cattle ranching has also had a long history and heritage in this valley and may prove to be an important part of the solution to this region’s growing pollution and environmental concerns. When properly managed, grazing livestock help enrich and maintain a healthy soil ecosystem and grassland biodiversity. But between an unpredictable market and escalating property values, cattle ranchers are struggling to hold onto their land and way of life.
Green burials allow us to return our bodies to the local ecosystem in a manner that safely and gradually releases nutrients, salts and moisture which enrich the soil ecosystem. My project looks at how a green burial system can be integrated into a long term holistic, rotational grazing system to improve the health of local grazing land and, in return, the health of cattle, the financial stability of local ranchers, and the continued protection and responsible stewardship of the habitats that call these lands home.
My project design further explores how an acoustically performative landscape can improve the experience of music during the mourning process while tapping into a growing awareness of the power of music to improve cattle health and dairy production.