Local growers and farmers are teaming up with the Phoenix Zoo and leading design schools collaborate on a special project for Rendez-Zoo, An Evening of Conservation and Cuisine. “Think Iron Chef meets Design Star,” says Michelle Clarke, Chair of Rendez-Zoo 2011. “With this pre-event competition and the display of the centerpieces at the gala, we are bringing attention to the Zoo’s internationally recognized leadership in the field of behavioral enrichment, and how the Zoo’s educational programs use hands-on activities to educate and empower children, a key ingredient for the ultimate success of any conservation program,” says Clarke. “This competition also gives us the opportunity to use our prominence to promote the wonderful local farmers who embrace the mission of the Zoo and showcase the myriad of talents coming from our local centers of academic excellence.”
The competition will start at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 15, approximately 50 students from ASU’s Design School and the Art Institute of Phoenix will be given nuts, feathers, herbs, fruit, vegetables, edible flowers from local growers and farmers. They’ll have two hours to create a centerpiece that represents the importance of concepts such as biodiversity, sustainability and conservation. The creations will then be judged by a panel made up of Zoo employees, professional designers and professors.
“The VCD students and faculty are most excited about the concept of recycling the centerpiece material,” said Mookesh Patel, Associate Professor of Visual Communication Design and the Arts at The Design School at Arizona State University. “Instead of the typically cut flowers for centerpieces, the students are energized to figure out a way to create equally elegant and beautiful natural display of locally-sourced, seasonal herbs, vegetables, native plants, edible flowers, and browse as centerpieces that will eventually engage the resident birds and animals in Phoenix Zoo’s behavioral enrichment programs. It is a win-win and fun-fun experience for all.”
After the gala, components of the unique centerpieces will be recycled and used as behavioral enrichment items for several of the Zoo’s animals. Clarks adds, “This competition also gives us the opportunity to use our prominence to promote the wonderful local farmers who embrace the mission of the Zoo and showcase the myriad of talents coming from our local centers of academic excellence.” For more information about the Zoo and upcoming events visit phoenixzoo.org.
Participating Growers and Farmers: