News from the Woods
A seasonal digest of resources and events in forestry and agroforestry from Wellspring Forest Farm & School
Sending our greetings and thanks to each of you, for your support and interest in our work to pursue more ecological and just ways to farm the land, and teach others about it. 2017 was a remarkable year in many respects. We give thanks for everything this season brought us.
It’s been a few months since we’ve shared a newsletter (August), and we wanted to catch you up on the latest news from our farm and beyond. Moving forward, we are going to feature two items in each newsletter:
ON THE FARM will give you insight into what is happening at Wellspring, and upcoming events and opportunities.
IN THE WOODS is where we will share a “big picture” idea and some educational material related to forest and tree stewardship.
Enjoy! May everyone find time this season to give thanks for all the gifts we harvested this season, and to rest and regenerate during this darkest time of year.
Next update: early Jan with 2018 classes and info on a new book!
For the trees,
Steve & Elizabeth
ON THE FARM
November and December are the months of rest for us and the land, where we tuck our systems to bed and slow down the rigorous summer work. We savor this time, using it to reflect on the season, plan for next year, and sleep in a bit before the maple season starts.
While the woods and fields are quiet and dormant this time of year, we have savored the harvest and have many products for sale in our farm store, which make great gifts!
Maple Syrup: We have small containers, 4oz ($6) and 8oz ($10), left from the 2017 harvest from our small batch, wood fired system.
Dried Mushrooms: 2017 was an abundant year for mushrooms, we have dried shiitake available in 1oz ($6) and 4 oz ($20) quantities. Great in soups, baked dishes, and stir fry. Incredible smell and flavor!
Shiitake Seasoning: We powder a selection of our shiitake harvest into a flavorful spice that works well in soups, sauces, pasta, and on pizza. This one is quickly becoming a customer favorite! ($5 for 4oz)
Lamb Skins: It is important for us to honor our sheep in life, and in death. We value all parts of the animal and have a beautiful selection of colorful hides that are great for babies or decorative uses. ($55- $95)
Books: Order a copy of our book, Farming the Woods, which describes how you can fill your forests with food ($35.00)
CSA Shares: For local folks, join our 2018 Mushroom CSA and enjoy fresh mushrooms each week from June – September.
You can learn more and order online at our farm store: store.wellspringforestfarm.com
or if you are local, visit us at the Press Bay Holiday Market in Ithaca
December 21 from 4:30 to 7:00pm. Here is the event page:
Thanks for your support!
IN THE WOODS
One of our big focuses this year was to more deeply explore our land and the relationship we have to it’s past, present, and future. One aspect we’ve been digging in deep on is learning more about the indigenous people and stories that are embedded in the history of our land and the wider region. We farm on Cayuga Nation land, one of the nations in the Haudenosaunee or Iroquois’ confederacy.
Some of our relation to this work comes from our relationship to Mike DeMunn, who is our forest mentor and part Senca-Haudenosaunee. His perspective on forestry is literally the foundation of our school.
Watch a video of Mike in the woods: http://www.woodlanders.com/blog/2017/1/19/ep-1-ecological-forestry
The accounts of history are not easy to read, as so many tales are about the exploitation of so many people and places we all live on today. Yet coupled with the tragedy of history are incredible stories of many incredible indigenous people and communities. They are still here, and this fact is a testament to resilience.
While it may not be clear to so how this topic links to forest and land stewardship, allow me to explain the connections we see. When we look at the landscape we have today, so much can be traced back to the perspective and attitude of colonist settlers, who saw it as their right to extract as much value from land for their own personal gains.
The concept of ownership was not present on these lands until settlers came. Native people, of many tribes and communities, had very different concepts of property and ownership, which the outsiders viewed only through their own cultural constructs. One example – forests were feared, and seen as “wastelands” – in many cases in order to claim land rights, settlers had to “improve” the land, which meant clearing it of all its forests.
In very much the same way, colonizer settlers viewed native communities as “sinful” and out of line with their concepts of god and nation. They systematically and unapologetically destroyed communities during the time the United States was being developed as a country. This is the legacy of the birth of this country.
While this painful history may not be our fault, it is our responsibility to
recognize these truths and seek to understand how the past narratives of forest use, farming, and culture intersect. The settler-colonizer attitude still infects the way we see and view the world, and it’s critical for us, that we examine this, if we are to be good stewards of the land.
In this thanksgiving time, it’s legitimate to gather and share food with family, to give thanks for all we have, to celebrate the harvest. But we need to recognize that the narrative of this holiday is not one based in the fairytale version of a peaceful meal between pilgrims and Native Americans. It is based on a history where many settler communities celebrated the conquest of native people with thanksgiving feasts.
We encourage you to spend some time listening to native voices on this topic, to learn more. Here are two recent podcasts that tell these stories, in their own words:
We also encourage you to learn about the specific people who traditionally lived on the land you are on now. See this great map to learn more:
Some reading that we’ve found to help shed light on these narratives:
The Indigenous Peoples History of the United States
by Roxanne Dunbar- Ortiz
Changes in the Land
by William Cronon
And in addition to exploring these aspects of history, it’s important to plug into current work that supports sovereignty and to see the work and struggles of native people today.
Rowan White, who is Akewsasne-Mohawk and founded Sierra Seeds, works with seed saving and sovereignty and has a number of resources and an online mentorship program:
She and others appear in a wonderful film that tells the story of see dds, and how communities can rally around seed saving as an important action:
SEEDS: THE UNTOLD STORY
We have also found many lessons in the writings and work of Robin Wall Kimmerer, who is Potawatomi and teaches at SUNY-ESF in New York.
Braiding Sweet Grass
A great article by her on how language can affect our work:
Thanks for reading these words, and we welcome dialog and conversation. We can begin with building our awareness, and then determine when and how to take action.
Wishing each of you a restful and restorative time in this quieter time of the year.
Quote of the Month:
“In indigenous ways of knowing, other species are recognized not only as persons, but also as teachers who can inspire how we might live.
We can learn a new solar economy from plants, medicines from mycelia, and architecture from the ants. By learning from other species, we might even learn humility.”
“News from the Woods” is brought to you by:
Wellspring Forest Farm & School
leaving forests in our footsteps
Steve & Elizabeth Gabriel
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