Friday, November 24, 2017

News from the Woods: November 2017

News from the Woods
A seasonal digest of resources and events in forestry and agroforestry from Wellspring Forest Farm & School

Fall/Winter 2017


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


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:

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!


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.

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:


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
Mecklenburg, NY

Let us know what you think!

To subscribe, please visit and simply enter your email. Or you can email with “SUBSCRIBE” as the subject line, and we will add you to the list!

To unsubscribe, please send an email with the subject “UNSUBSCRIBE ME” to

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Pastured Lamb for Sale by Half, Whole, or "Grab Bag"

Our Katahdin sheep produce flavorful and tender meat, and live an idyllic life, grazing always on pasture and in woodland glens.

We graze rotationally, moving them to fresh ground every one or two days. Our attention to the care and welfare of our animals is a top priority for us.   
Your support of our farm means you get 100% grass-fed pastured lamb that are raised with care while building soil, sequestering carbon, and promoting native vegetation. Learn more about our farm at

We sell lamb by the half and whole, as custom cuts that you choose to your liking. If you haven’t purchased meat this way before, it’s a wonderful way to experience the wide range of cuts available. We can help you decide!

**NEW this year, for those who can’t fit a half into the freezer or want to try lamb – a $75 “grab bag” option, which includes about 10 lbs of mixed lamb; some ground, cubed, and a few choice cuts we pick for you!**


Lamb: $6.75/lb hanging weight, which averages around 40 - 50 lbs per lamb. Half a lamb costs $135 - $170 and a whole $270 - $350.

Mutton: $6.00/lb handing weight, which averages 50 – 60 lbs per ewe. The meat is still tender and richer in flavor- GREAT for mostly ground or cubed. Half a lamb will cost about of $150 - $180 and a whole $300 - $360.

Once you reserve and pay a $75 deposit, we send you a cut sheet to fill out. With half lambs, we do our best to get your cuts, but know since you are sharing a lamb, it doesn’t always work perfectly!

Don’t have enough freezer space? Consider joining the Meat Locker project with locations in Ithaca and Corning:


Pay online with credit card:

For a check, please email with subject “LAMB ORDER” with the following info, and mail a check  for $75 mad our to Wellspring Forest Farm to 6164 Deer Run Ln, Trumansburg NY 14886.




       GRAB BAG

I am ready anytime!
Mid Oct
Early Nov
Mid Nov

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Help Farmers in Puerto Rico Rebuild after Hurricane Maria

As farmers and farm service providers, we are deeply saddened at the images and stories of what farmers in Puerto Rico are experiencing in the wake of Hurricane Maria. 

The New York Times recently reported that the storm destroyed 80% of crops on the island. The time to recover will not be measured in days or weeks, but months and even years:

Efforts are underway by Fondo de Resiliencia Agroecológica (Agroecological Resilience Fund) to collect supplies and monetary donations to help farms rebuild.

Tara Rodríguez Besosa is one of the main organizers behind the effort and is owner of a local-foods restaurant in San Juan that was lost under six feet of water. Besosa says that it’s, “Important to emphasize that Puerto Rico has not had a healthy food system for some time now. Now, we are at a crucial moment of dealing with a complete wipe-out, both within the little local food system we had come to achieve through small and medium sized agroecological farming, but [also] our forests, rainforests, and bodies of water.“

See the stories of some of the people you can help here:
(for English subtitles, turn on closed captioning)

For those in the Finger Lakes area of New York, Wellspring Forest Farm in Mecklenburg, NY is serving as a drop off location for tools and supplies you wish to get to the island but are not able to mail yourself. Please contact for information on how to drop off supplies. If your farm is willing to serve as a drop-off location in New York, please also let Steve know.

Donations requested

- Annual Seeds (much of the annuals we can grow here, they can grow year round)
    Here is a list of requested types:
- Water filter systems that don't require electricity (berkey systems, lifestraw, etc)
- Herbal medicines of all sorts (preferably with descriptions of uses)
- Solar chargers
- Solar supplies of any sort
- Small Axes
- Hatchets
- Machetes
- Sharpening stones
- Hand saws
- Timber Hand saws
- Draw knifes
- Hoes
- Shovels
- Irrigation supplies
- Generators
- Chainsaws with extra chains, bar oil, and oil mix.
- Ropes and Cordage
- Shade cloth
- Farming, off-grid, and survival books

Donations can be mailed to:
Fondo de Resiliencia Agroecológica
961 Bergen St, Apt 4B
Brooklyn, NY, 11216

or to Boulder, CO
Fondo de Resiliencia Agroecológica
1942 Broadway Ave, Suite 409
Boulder, CO 80302

Monetary donations can be made online a this link: or direct through PayPal to:
email or



Contact persons:
Tara Rodríguez Besosa,, 787-447-3090
Daniella Rodríguez Besosa, 787-431-8424

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Spring News: Free Article on Wild Leeks, New Farm Video, and Upcoming Classes

News from the Woods

a monthly digest of resources, events, and people in forestry & agroforestry

MARCH 2017 (yes, we know it’s April!)


We are a little late getting the news out this month due to a busy maple sugaring season. Thanks for your patience and there will be another update later in April in addition to this one.

This month, we offer another FREE article download about Wild Leeks, or Ramps; which many love to forage from the woods. Enjoy this spring treat but harvest with care!

Also excited to share our new FARM VIDEO now live on the homepage of the website and on our YouTube channel. The video is under 5 minutes and gives a brief overview of our farm and school, with some great shots from former apprentice Costa.

We encourage you to immerse yourself in one of our summer programs, which get you out into the woods and give you skills to better steward the forested lands around you. This month we feature the Farming the Forest 3- day workshop in June, which we are running with Edible Acres owner and plant guru Sean Dembrosky. Read on and consider joining us this summer! Sign up by May 1 and get 10% off tuition by using the code: ENEWSMARCH

Also in June, Steve will teach a weekend workshop called “Gifts from the Forest” at the OMEGA Institute June 9 - 11 in Rhinebeck, NY. Read more about that course here:

For the trees,

Steve & Elizabeth

In the Woods


Wild Leeks Welcome Us to Spring, but Need Careful Harvesting

“Anyone who has come across the ramp, or Wild Leek, Allium tricoccum, likely cannot help but feel a sense of abundance; these amazing plants often show up in clusters that can range from a few square feet to a solid quarter acre or more of green. It’s a welcome gift of the forest in this time of year, as the forest wakes up from a long winter’s nap.”


On the Farm

We have a new video about our farm!

Our deep thanks to former apprentice and talented filmmaker Costa Boustikaris for making this.

 Costa is currently traveling around the world documenting forest cultures in a series of short videos called “Woodlanders” which you can view here:

Upcoming Events

See all our programs at:

Farming the Forest
3 day Short Course - JUNE 23 - 25
with Sean Dembrosky and Steve Gabriel

Discover the possibilities of growing a range of food and medicine in marginal woodlands, hedgerows, and wet places. Explore growing edible mushrooms, elderberry, perennial vegetables, berries, and nuts in temperate woodlands on both a homestead and farm scale.

This course is facilitated by Steve Gabriel of Wellspring Forest Farm, along with Sean Dembrosky of Edible Acres. Both have over a decade experience in managing productive small scale agroforestry systems and share their land projects with participants as a living classroom.

Topics covered include:

    •    nursery techniques
    •    low-tech tree propagation
    •    mushroom cultivation
    •    biochar production
    •    integrating animals in the woods

This course is designed for woodland owners, famers, extension professionals, permaculturists, and homesteaders who want to gain a better understanding of the intricacies of forest management and build their skills in the management of productive woodlands.

$300 includes lunch each day
$50 to camp onsite, 

or book our spacious yurt on the farm

SIGN UP BY MAY 1 and get 10% off!


Gifts From the Forest
Growing Food & Medicine While Tending the Woods
June 09, 2017 – June 11, 2017
Rhinebeck, NY

Take a stroll through the woods and you may find berries for your smoothie,

mushrooms for your stir fry, syrup for your pancakes, and bark for a medicinal tea—all in your own backyard.

Walking the aisles of nature’s supermarket isn’t as easy as going to the grocery store, but you can learn how to harvest and grow a range of trees, plants, and mushrooms right outside your door to supplement your diet and support your health.

Guided by Steve Gabriel, coauthor of Farming the Woods, we learn to observe the forest to find natural patterns to replicate in our own farms, gardens, or yards. We explore the trees, plants, and mushrooms that support human health and the health of the woods. We learn proper planting techniques and how to inoculate logs with shiitake mushrooms.

As we connect more deeply with the place we call home, we regenerate the forest ecosystem of which we’re all a part.

Learn more and register:


Quote of the Month:

“Eat leeks in March and wild garlic in May

And all year after physicians may play.”


- Old Welsh Rhyme


“News from the Woods” is brought to you by:

Wellspring Forest Farm & School

leaving forests in our footsteps

Steve & Elizabeth Gabriel

Mecklenburg, NY

To subscribe, please visit and simply enter your email. Or you can email with “SUBSCRIBE” as the subject line, and we will add you to the list!

To unsubscribe, please send an email with the subject “UNSUBSCRIBE ME” to

Saturday, February 18, 2017

February News from the Woods: Article on Maple Sap, Announcing 2017 Programs

February 2017

Greetings and Happy February, the SAP IS FLOWING!

This month we offer another FREE article encouraging you to tap even just a few trees, and embark on a journey humans have participated in for thousands of years; drinking tree sap as a nutritious, delicious, and refreshing way to welcome spring.

Also this month, we are excited to announce our 2017 lineup of workshops and events! You can visit the farm during maple weekend, take an online forestry foundations course, or plan a summer trip to the beautiful Finger Lakes region to attend one of our courses on farming the forest, knife and tool sharpening, and more.

We also highlight the amazing work of a previous farm apprentice, Costa Boutsikaris, who has come out with a new series of short films as part of his “Woodlanders” project. You can view these videos for FREE and consider helping support their production.

And finally, we are now taking applications for our Summer Agroforestry Apprentice Training Program, which happens from June – October. Each summer a small group experiences hands-on learning and build their farm and forestry skills, all while participating in our day-to-day activities and attending all of the workshops we offer.


For the trees,
Steve & Elizabeth

In the Woods

NEW ARTICLE: Tapping for Sap

Tree saps have long been viewed as a spring tonic by many cultures around the globe. They are loaded with minerals, nutrients, enzymes, antioxidants, phenolic compounds, and more.

Sap can be drank straight from the tree of course, but can also be used to make a wonderful carbonated beverage with a home soda-maker.

Simply replace the water with sap, adding as much or as little carbonation as you'd like. It can also be utilized for cooking in soup, stews, and other recipes that call for water. It also makes a wonderful base for brewing beers and coffee beverages.


On the Farm

Come visit us! We will be open for the New York State Maple Producer’s Association during the annual event celebrating the state’s maple farms:

MAPLE WEEKEND – March 18 & 19

Join us for tours of the farm and sugarshack, taste sap and syrup, and take home our special maple flight!

Saturday features tours at 11:30am, 12:30pm, 1:30pm, and 2:30pm, live music, a local farm and craft market, and delicious wood-fired pizzas from our friends at The Rusty Oven.

Sunday is open for casual visitors to the sugarshack and will feature an Introduction to Log-Grown Shiitake class from 11am - 1pm. For $40 per person, learn how to make your own mushroom logs, and take one home

Announcing our 2017 Workshops!

In offering educational opportunities, we aim to build students knowledge and relationship to the forested landscape, empowering them with skills and tools so they can become better stewards of woodlands and trees.

We are blessed to have an incredible lineup of guest teachers joining us for the following hikes and workshops:

 The Forest Talks , A series of Guided Hikes
1st Wednesdays from May through October 5:00 - 8:00pm

Farming the Forest , 3 day Short Course
JUNE 23 – 25 with Sean Dembrosky of Edible Acres and Steve Gabriel

Knife and Tool Sharpening Skills Weekend Workshop
July 8 & 9 with Wolf Eric Bravo

Forest Ecology & Management, 3 day Short Course
August 19 – 20 with Mike Demunn (Da’ Ha’ da’ nyah) and Steve Gabriel

Fungi Cultivation & Foraging , 3-day Short Course
September 22 – 24 with Olga Tzogas and Steve Gabriel

Each of our short courses includes access to our online course, which can also be taken as a stand alone experience from anywhere in the world:

Foundations of Forest Stewardship Online Course
Course is available beginning May 1, 2017


Resource Spotlight: “Woodlanders” Video Series

WOODLANDERS is a new online film series that seeks to document the work of people who care for and depend on forests for their livelihood and well-being throughout the world. The films are created by former farm apprentice Costa Boutsikaris, who is a remarkable filmmaker.

The first episode features forester Mike DeMunn, who is a close friend and leads many of our hikes and our short course:

The second film features our amazing basket maker friend and neighbor, Jamin Uticone, who creates "baskets of time":

Check out these amazing shorts (under 20 minutes) and consider supporting this great project through a subscription. Costa tells us he plans on traveling to England to document woodland practices if he can reach his fundraising goal.

Quote of the Month:


I have never seen a reason why every farmer should not have a  sugar orchard, as well as an apple orchard. “

-- Thomas Jefferson


“News from the Woods” is brought to you by:

Wellspring Forest Farm & School

leaving forests in our footsteps

Steve & Elizabeth Gabriel

Mecklenburg, NY

To subscribe, please visit and simply enter your email. Or you can email with “SUBSCRIBE” as the subject line, and we will add you to the list!

To unsubscribe, please send an email with the subject “UNSUBSCRIBE ME” to

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Now taking applications for our Summer Apprenticeship Training Program

Our apprenticeship training program is designed to train participants in the art and science of forest ecology, and equip them with practical skills and experience in management of productive agroforestry systems as they learn from experienced foresters and farmers.

We focus on taking the time to support individual learning and skill building in this four-month experiential educational program.

“This program is a completely immersive experience into the world of agroforestry. Time spent cultivating mushrooms, learning proper chainsaw use, rotationally grazing sheep, and learning forestry principles left a profound impact on my life. I learned and grew more than I ever could have hoped.”  -- Wyatt, 2016 Participant

During the summer program, trainees live on-farm or commute to the site two days a week and learn by engaging in the production of mushrooms, duck eggs, pastured lamb, and small fruits. 


Apprentices also participate in all our educational programming and learn skills, including chainsaw safety and use of a scythe and other hand tools.


Learning on a working forest farm broadens understanding of forest farming, agroforestry, permaculture, and forest gardening systems, providing training in the technical and business skills required to run a small farm or homestead.

The Summer session runs June 1 - October 1 with work days on Mondays and Thursdays each week. End date is flexible.

Learn more:

Friday, January 6, 2017

2016 Recap: News from the Woods

News from the Woods
a monthly digest of resources, events, and people in forestry & agroforestry

2016 in Review

Past articles and issues at:

Rather than offer brand new content this month, we thought we would revisit the range stories we shared with you this year, in case you missed a resource we shared or want to revisit a topic that interested you.

In 2016, we offered articles on a number of topics including harvesting wild leeks, navigating the complex world of medicinal fungi, mushroom foraging tips, and the amazing ability of dried mushrooms to accumulate vitamin D from sunlight. Find links to these, and more, below.

Our goal with this newsletter, which just started this past May, is to provide useful and relevant information in the areas of farming, forestry, and agroforesry, along with updates on the offerings of Wellspring Forest Farm & School. Let us know how we are doing!

We offer this monthly through email, though you can view the newsletter at our website anytime, with a bit more flair (pretty pictures) at:

In the coming year, we are excited to share stories on small scale logging, maple syrup (and sap) production, and of course, much more on mushrooms, as well as an exciting round of workshops and events we are currently planning.

We want to wish you and yours a safe and happy year ahead, and hope that together we can work to improve the health of the environment, the dignity of all people, and the viability of farming and homesteading for all. 

For the trees,
Steve & Elizabeth

2016 Recap


We talked about the properties of Ephemeral plants in the woods, including Wild Leeks, or Ramps (Allium tricoccum).  We have an article on the Farming the Woods blog about the dangers in overharvesting these amazing plants:

Our 14-week Mushroom CSA was launched, where local residents to the Ithaca/Trumansburg/Watkins Glen areas of the finger lakes in New York can access fresh shiitake, oyster, and other mushrooms from our farm and forage from the newby woods. We are taking orders for our 2017 season, now!


We shared some basic tips on Wild Foraging Mushrooms in a post, which is now a free downloadable PDF article available at

We announced our series of 3-day short courses, which will return in 2017. We cover topics such as forestry, fungi, and agroforestry, and plan to announce dates and themes for this year in late January 2017, so stay tuned!

For now, we are accepting applications for our 2017 apprenticeship training program and have also posted the dates for our Maple Weekend, March 18 & 19 


Our newsletter explored the popular questions around invasive species:


We shared about our experience with the historic drought, in an article called: “40% of New York is in Drought, What do the trees have to say?”

We released an article to help explain the complicated world of medicinal mushrooms, to help others navigate the decision making process.

And we explored the benefits of dehydrating mushrooms in the sun in an article titled, “Storing Sunlight for Winter: The Amazing Ability of Mushrooms to Accumulate Vitamin D

Get these articles FREE at

Also in OCTOBER…

We announced the writing of Steve’s new book, Silvopasture, which explores the beneficial ways animals and trees can work together.

Read more at:


We reflected on the common values and beliefs that our country must agree on to move forward; recommitting to the work we do as one part of the solution.  

Our ONLINE STORE opened for the season, with offerings of our products including dried shiitake, shiitake seasoning, elderberry extract, maple syrup, books, and sheep hides. Still some items left from our 2016 harvest!

Quote of the Month:

To cherish what remains of the Earth and

 to foster its renewal is our only legitimate
 hope of survival.

― Wendell Berry

News from the Woods” is brought to you by:

Wellspring Forest Farm & School
leaving forests in our footsteps

Steve & Elizabeth Gabriel
Mecklenburg, NY

Let us know what you think!

To subscribe, please visit and simply enter your email. Or you can email with “SUBSCRIBE” as the subject line, and we will add you to the list!

To unsubscribe, please send an email with the subject “UNSUBSCRIBE ME” to