Miya’s Garden

Submitted by Fire Farm Lighting


Client: Fire Farm

Location: Elkader, IA, United States

Completion date: 2019

Project Team


Tarun Bhatia

Iowa State University


Jim Walch

Fire Farm Inc


Olivia Braun

Iowa State University


Jordyn Brennan

Upper Iowa University


Fire Farm engaged Upper Iowa University student Jordynn Brennan and Iowa State design interns Olivia Braun and Tarun Bhatia along with staff and designer Jim Walch to transform the public façade of their buildings from an industrial corner in the middle of small town Elkader Iowa into a dynamic and welcoming public space.


Fire Farm’s goal was to invigorate their small rural Iowa town with vibrant art and design on the exterior of their building that projected the creativity that goes on within their walls and the vibrancy of the local community. One face of the building was painted with a large-scale mural of native Iowa flowers by artist Jordyn Brennan. Over-size monarch butterflies were painted and mounted to the face of the building to tie into the Monarch-inspired theme selected to celebrate the Music and Monarchs festival held in Elkader each May. Continuing this theme, six sculptural planters were designed by Jim Walch of Fire Farm to hold a butterfly garden. The change in grade in the front of the building was addressed elegantly with a sculptural solution by twisting the form of the bottom half of the rectangular steel boxes to shorten their height as they progress uphill. This created a sense of movement and interest to the planters as they twist uniquely. The planters lead to the former driveway and parking area in front of the building which has been converted to a public seating area. (cont to Addtl Info)


This project was a collaboration of many entities under the direction of Adam Jackson Pollock, founder of Fire Farm. The mural was commissioned directly from Jordyn Brennan, an aspiring young artist. Jordyn’s only direction was to provide a mural that incorporated native species flowers into the work and to cover a sufficient area of the wall to be prominent and dramatic. The planter benches were a product of a summer internship with design students Tarun Bhatia and Olivia Braun. Director Adam Jackson Pollock described the goals for the public space and then guided them through an iterative process of design, engineering and finally welding and assembly fabrication. Jim Walch and Adam worked with the interns to develop the twisted box planters and then execute the fabrication. The butterflies were conceptualized by Adam and then fabricated and installed by Fire Farm staff. The wall art panels are part of an ongoing project led by Adam to expose local artists’ work to the community on a revolving and dynamic basis. Artists are invited to submit digital images which are printed and mounted to the removable panels. The goal is to have 3 to 4 rotations of artwork per year.

Additional Information

The planter benches were designed by Olivia Braun and Tarun Bhatia, their sides cut with patterns inspired by butterfly wings. The planters, seating, and butterflies were created from up-cycled scrap material from Fire Farm. Cutting services and the wood for the benches were donated by local businesses. The benches provide seating for the community and patrons of the 2Mit Burger stand which is located at the end of the lot on a primary corner in town. Across the street, a series of 5ftx8ft removable art panels are mounted to the exterior of Fire Farm’s production building.