West Lost Angeles Veterans Administration (VA) provides a hospital for veterans with mental health issues and sits on land that was deeded to the nation in 1888 to provide permanent homes for veterans. In an act that challenged this land use, Strawberry Flag deployed an experimental aquaponic strawberry farm on an abandoned quadrangle of the VA using plants rescued from a local farm where they would otherwise have been plowed under after having fruited only once.
The lines of white aquaponic pipes brimming with strawberries that echoed the stripes of the American flag were tended by veterans employed by the studio as part of the VA’s Compensated Work Therapy program. Nursing these salvaged plants back to life, the veterans collaborated in creating a nurturing domestic environment that demonstrated the value of the land as a home, its intended function. The garden and its attendant civilizing activities, such as the afternoon teas served with jam made from the strawberries, offered a positive, active environment in contrast to the clinical, lifeless backdrop of the hospital that occupies the site.