Workspace: A Mobile Office for Farm-Based Dinners Travels the Country

Workspace: A Mobile Office for Farm-Based Dinners Travels the Country

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2. Art and food

My art and the food have equal weight. Good art conditions require the winter weather and waves, to prep the surface. I draw in the sand with a stick and rake, and take aerial photos of the drawings before they disappear. I also do huge designs of vehicle tracks. I’ve exhibited at MoMA PS1, and a number of companies have commissioned artwork from me. O.I.T.F. requires the seasonal harvest, and good weather for being outdoors.

With his business, Outstanding in the Field, Jim Denevan travels the country with a small crew offering farm-based dinners using local ingredients. “All seven of us live and work on the bus,” he said.

Credit
Talia Herman for The New York Times

3. Feast in the field

One of our May dinners was at Front Porch Farm in Healdsburg, Calif.

A satellite crew of people who travel to dinners under their own power helps us set up, serve and clean up at events. I cook when there’s no guest chef.

At dinners I park the bus near the table in a particular way so it’s not only a mobile office but also part of a composition (or part of the work scene, in an artistic sense).

The bus is often parked near the dinner table in such a way that it becomes part of the scene.

Credit
Talia Herman for The New York Times

Rolling along

All seven of us live and work on the bus. I like to travel in the captain’s seat across from the driver and take in the view when I’m not working somewhere on the bus. I rarely drive it, but I’m going to this year.

4. Devices welcome

The dinette, our main work area, is often packed with people and productivity. But generally we’re not all working at the same time, and I work wherever I can find a seat.

Now you see it

The entire office converts to sleeping quarters for eight.

The desks disappear into the beds and come out again in the morning.

Each desk has a cup holder so drinks don’t slide, and we put a soft rubber mat under a laptop to keep it secure.

5. Cubbies

Everyone gets a cubby for work items, and a storage area in the back of the bus for personal items.

We have lots of outlets for chargers and charging stations. I went way overboard and had these installed all over, but I’m glad I did.

Work habits

Everyone has a water bottle and they tend to be left all over, coloring the interior of the bus. Mine is green and seldom has water in it. The crew tells me to drink some water if I get grumpy.

I make drawings and illustrated stories and give them away to staff, customers, farmers, and chefs. Quick, and here you go.

I always have Sharpies, crayons and cheap blank notebooks around for writing and drawing.

Soothing sounds

My assistant Seth brought a small music box on the bus and eventually gave it to me after I kept asking for it. It plays “You Are My Sunshine.” The bus driver controls who gets to play what. Like being silly, music is great for keeping spirits up on the long drives.

Bus-less trip

We recently made it to Chile without the bus. I may transport it to other countries on a container ship in the future. My brother, an organic farmer who inspired me, advises on farming in Chilean orchards, so we had to go there. We organized a dinner while there.

Reading material on the bus includes Mr. Denevan’s cookbook.

Credit
Talia Herman for The New York Times

6. Reading time

The bus has books like “Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia,” which examines utopian impulses. It’s critical to thoughtfully consider what we do. I also have copies of my cookbook. I doodle on it when someone wants a signed copy.

Restroom niceties

The bathroom, especially the shower area, is tiny. The shower nozzle is like a kitchen faucet nozzle. I’m 6-4, so I prefer to shower somewhere else. Sometimes we stay in hotels or a farmer has extra room.

The table is set for an open-air dinner at Front Porch Farm in Healdsburg, Calif.

Credit
Talia Herman for The New York Times

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