It’s been a little over a month since we’ve come together as apprentices here at MPSS.  We met as strangers, but quickly learned to work together as a cohesive community.  Late spring is now upon us here in Maine, and with that comes budding flowers and trees, mosquitoes, and mornings spent with our hands in the soil. We’ve spent a lot of time in the garden so far, and quickly realized the power of many hands completing tasks.

The corn is in, as are the tomatoes, squash, beets, parsnips, sugar snap peas, onions, kale, elderberries, apples, and walnuts.  We’ve spread burdock and wild licorice seeds near our kitchen, and transplanted nettle, comfrey, and jerusalem artichoke throughout the forest.

Some of these plants will provide food for us in a few months; many however won’t be ready for harvest this season.  But the seeds have been planted.  And the specific community who benefits from their sowing is of little consequence; whether it’s next year’s apprentices making comfrey salves and harvesting meals from a healthy patch of jerusalem artichoke, or folks picking walnuts off trees decades from now, the continual process of filling larders sustainably is already underway this season.

We quickly learned that just as we prepare for coming seasons, we also inherit the fruits of others who labored before us with that same mentality.  We grind acorns into flour that were gathered and dried two or three seasons back; tinctures and teas of japanese knotweed harvested and prepared months ago await those who begin showing signs and symptoms of Lyme Disease; we add meat to our stews from animals slaughtered then preserved last fall; learn animal track identification from frozen roadkill.   We benefit from the foresight and hard work of others who came before us.  It is now our turn to continue the cycle so as to ensure abundance on the landscape and within the community.

Growing plants mean supporting the wildlife that will provide us with meat in the cold winter months.

Growing plants mean supporting the wildlife that will provide us with meat in the cold winter months.

It’s been over a month since we’ve come together as apprentices, and the seeds for a strong and healthy environment and community have already been planted.  With every seed scattered and rootball transplanted we hope for more than a nourishing cache of food for the winter; we also strive to create healthy connections with strangers on the future landscape.

 

Harvesting nettles

Harvesting a patch of nettles planted years ago