Caretaking and Land Stewardship for Future Generations

 In caretaking, earth tracks, foraging, herbalism, Herbalogy, land stewardship, mammals, medicinal plants, Medicinals, Mentoring, nature education, permaculture, Wild Plants Apprenticeship, workshops
Friday was a day of stewardship and caretaking on the new Earth Tracks land. 
Getting our hands into the dirt was the priority for the morning.  We each researched a herb that had been brought up in the Rebel Roots greenhouse to learn about its medicinal qualities and where it might grow best.  With flats of classics like nettle, calendula and chamomile we put a lot of seedlings into the ground. There were also some heritage tobacco plants and a strong vermifuge called wormwood. We learned a few growing techniques, like scratching up astragalus seeds to help them sprout. We will check back on our newly planted medicinals next weekend to see how they’re doing.
We worked on some stewardship projects after lunch.  The sugar maple trees that we had potted last weekend were ready to go into the ground.  We planted them along the driveway into the house.  The location we selected was in between the row of pines that shadow the southern edge of the road into the property.  When the red pines have past their peak, these sugar maples will hopefully take on the role of snow and windbreak, provide shelter for the gardens, lawn and thicket on the other side and encourage animal habitat. 
Building animal den/cover sites was another after-lunch project. We made these structures to encourage small mammals like voles, mice, rabbits and hares to live on the property.  These included spheres we made called “mouse houses” or “vole domes”.  Made of tree branches and shrub bows, these homes have a soft, grassy interior and would be a welcome place for any small mammal on a winter’s night! Even a chipmunk or red squirrel might want to move in.  More small mammals means more diversity in the ecosystem and can attract predators like foxes, hawks and coyotes to visit the farm.  We also built brush piles, a collection of sticks and shrubs that can serve the same purpose. 
A walk around the Earth Tracks property helped to animate our work. We looked at the various permaculture and ecosystem restoration projects that are in store for the land. As we dropped off the vole domes and built brush piles along the way, we were inspired by the many ways that humans can work to improve a landscape.  By being true “caretakers” of a land, we can increase the diversity of species that live there and enhance the richness of life for all the species nearby. 
Several folks took a turn at using the bow drills and Basia got a coal that lit our dinner fire. As we built up the fire, we got ready for the evening and our meal.  We harvested some wild edible leaves for our dinner and finished up our projects. Ox eye daisy, red clovers, lamb’s quarters and more went into our wild salad for the evening. Before we ate, we shared some gratitude and reflected on all of the work, learnings and stewardship that had made up our time together.  We looked forward to tomorrow as we ate.  As night fell, we settled into our tents and listened to the bull frog droning on, calling out each time he saw a mosquito fly by… or so it seemed. J.

Written By: Alex Thomson – 2nd year Earth Tracks Wild Plants Apprentice

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