One of my idols in the sustainable farming world is Joel Salatin. His position is one of entirely utilitarian structures and always argues against spending time or resources on aesthetics. I think his point is valid, but I also disagree to some degree.
Aesthetics serve many purposes. It garners respect from individuals who may not have much knowledge or connection to agriculture. Creating a beautiful agricultural property can not only enrich the lives of the farm operator, but also its neighbors and visitors. Leaving no consideration to aesthetics can be extrapolated, in my mind at least, to placing no importance in various forms of art. In my opinion, that is a dangerous path of logic to wander down.
As a result, when I see images like this Norwegian barn, the marrying of form and function has an incredible impact. I’ve done a reserve google search in an effort to find and properly credit the original source but I have been unable to do so. Does anyone know the source?
Edit: Thank you so much to Thomas in the comment section for tracking down the source. This image belongs to ODDLEIV APNESETH. If google translate is accurate, the barn was built in 1885 with the next seven years spent on the bridge and it is still used for goat production today!
My personal view on aesthetics regarding functional aspects of the farm is as follows. I find beauty in natural disorder. Thus I find monoculture orchards set in rows to be boring compared to those containing bushes that harbor pest eating spiders, flowers that attract pollinators, tap rooted companions that recycle nutrients from deep in the soil, and herbs that trap/deter pests or attract predatory helpers. Current shifts in industrial agriculture seem to be incredulously acknowledging this view. As pollination of monoculture fields is growing more unpredictable, farms are starting to leave “wild patches” in cultivated fields as native pollinators will not travel further than 300 feet from their nest to forage.
In conclusion, our society seems to place importance in order and complete control over nature which I believe is a relic of manifest destiny here in America. This view neglects to consider the biological and economical functions that omit biodiversity from orderly, controlled displays of flora which, in my opinion, is a fundamental flaw of the role aesthetics play in modern plant cultivation.