Artist Sam Van Aken will plant a "Tree of 40 Fruit" along the Karl Stirner Arts Trail. This rendering by Van Aken shows what the tree might look like when fully grown. (Sam Van Aken/CONTRIBUTED PHOTO)

Rendering of Tree of 40 Fruit on the Karl Stirner Arts Trail when fully grown. (Sam Van Aken/CONTRIBUTED PHOTO)

Sam Van Aken, artist, conservationist and professor at Syracuse University, will give a public lecture at 7 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 17 in the Kirby Hall of Civil Rights, Lafayette College. He will discuss his process, research, and conservation work with the Tree of 40 Fruit.

Also on Nov. 17, join Lafayette and Easton community members and families for the planting of the Tree of 40 Fruit, 11 a.m.–noon on the Karl Stirner Arts Trail (KSAT), adjacent to the dog park (near the Blue Bridge entrance). Support trees will be planted nearby at this time as well, to form a small orchard on the Trail. Shovels will be provided.

Sam Van Aken, artist and professor at Syracuse University, has been making art by manipulating nature for years. Some of those efforts result in the grafting of up to 40 different fruits on one tree. The tree on the KSAT in Easton will serve as a “base” tree to which the 40 grafts will be added over three years. Van Aken will make return visits to add grafts and prune the tree.

As an artwork, the Tree of 40 Fruit creates a moment of rethinking as it blossoms in different tones of pink, white, and crimson in spring and then bears a multitude of fruit throughout the summer. As a form of conservation, it preserves native, heirloom, and antique varieties of fruit once grown in the area.

Jim Toia, director of community-based teaching at Lafayette, will involve students from art, engineering and science classes in the ongoing project.

Born and raised in Reading, Pa., Van Aken serves as associate professor of studio arts in Syracuse University’s School of Art. He is represented by the Ronald Feldman Gallery, NYC.

The artist’s plans include creating entire orchards of heirloom trees as a resource for individuals and growers throughout the U.S. to help reintroduce forgotten fruit varieties. His video on the National Geographic YouTube Channel has over 2.4 million views,

The visit is sponsored by The Karl Stirner Arts Trail, Lafayette’s environmental engineering department, art department, and art galleries; CaPA Scholarship and community based teaching programs.

For more information, contact Jim Toia,, 610-330-5577 and visit the KSAT website,


Kristine Y. Todaro
Director/Special Projects & Media Relations
Lafayette College