For man, autumn is a time of harvest, of gathering together. For nature, it is a time of sowing, of scattering abroad. ~Edwin Way Teale
Deep within my soul I have a love of plants and nature so deep that they are a part of me, not knowing where one begins and the other stops. A constant yearning to be out of doors; see the land awaken after a long cold winter, feeling the warm winds upon my face, hearing the geese flying overhead and walking with my dogs through fields and forest. But one of the most sacred times is autumn, a long-awaited time for all our seed bearing friends and avid gardeners to sow once again.
With autumn soon upon us everything is full of promise, it’s the perfect time we can consider giving back to nature! The amazing plants of the fields and forest give us so much: intoxicating fragrances, life giving oxygen, herbal medicines, materials and amazingly, inspiration for the arts; many a painter’s muse. But alas, we keep taking. We take from mother earth’s precious water resources and natural habitats, to make room for factory farming and ever-expanding cities. And we can’t forget our own shame – the over harvesting from the wild for our herbal medicines. As a herbalists or anyone who uses herbs, it is our responsibility to ensure the replenishment of a diverse plant species. Remember the plant kingdom is not sustainable if we only take and do not give back.
So how are we giving back? We have been tilling, digging, dividing and planting on our lovely little farm for over thirty years. Planting any native plant species that are not already thriving on the land. Only a small portion of our 100-acres is actually “farmed”. We have taken over 60 acres of workable land and given it back to nature. Trees, shrubs, wildflowers and herbs are all thriving, increasing the natural habitat for the surrounding wildlife. Common sightings are deer, rabbits, coyotes, wild turkeys, hawks, raccoons, and rare sightings of lynx, bears, and even a cougar. In the last several years we have really been focusing on planting “At Risk” medicinal plants. Some of the plants we have re-introduced into the wild are Echinacea, Ramps, Trilliums, Black Cohosh, Blue Cohosh, Arnica, Goldenseal and Bloodroot. Our most honoured “at risk” plant in the sanctuary came all on her own. One day I was leading an herb walk discussing the “at risk” plants and I happened to ask the photographer, who was out with us, what had been her favourite plant and she said, “the yellow one”. I said, “what yellow one?” She quickly scrolled back through her camera and showed me a glorious photo of a Lady’s Slipper Orchid. I was stunned! We never planted this orchid ~ I guess the saying “Build it and they will come” is true 😊 I had no idea when we first started planting that our efforts would turn into our own botanical sanctuary! We are thrilled to say that since 2015, we have been Botanical Sanctuary Member of United Plant Savers. Our mission is to protect native medicinal plants and their native habitat while ensuring an abundant renewable supply of medicinal plants for generations to come. Our future goals are simple, to increase the number of “at risk” plant colonies annually. It is my dream that years from now someone will carry on my work with the plants, nurturing and loving our botanical sanctuary as much as I do. Until then, I will continue to pour my hearts love into this land, giving the only way I know how to.
Now what can you do?
Plant “at risk or at watch” medicinal plants while hiking and walking
Scatter “at risk or at watch” medicinal plant seeds while hiking and walking
Donate to United Plant Savers
Become a member of United Plant Savers
Save plants that are being destroyed by development – transplant them
Do not purchase wildcrafted “at risk or at watch” herbs
Do not forage “at risk or at watch” herbs
I am incredibly thankful every day, for my work within the herbal community introducing people to the many uses of herbs and seeing them begin to use them daily- for themselves and their loved ones (human and pet), but more importantly now is to spread the message to give back – it is truly my life’s passion!
As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands — one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.”
I love this so much, for hearing of your heart, and your dreams, and how things have unfolded with the land you occupy and interact with. Thank you for writing and sharing <3
Debby Pirso says
I truly love what you have done and continue to do for the plants and your land. When I visit your farm I always feel so wonderful and energized. It is a sanctuary in many ways, never stop your Life‘s work it is so much appreciated and inspirational.
Janine Turnbull says
Thank you so much for such an inspiring article. I was lucky enough to visit your home for the first part of the first aid session before COVID shutdowns started.
My plan was to begin to study with you this fall. I’m wondering if you are going to hold the monthly meetings again and also if you are taking on any new students. This is definitely something I feel called to do and would especially love to learn more about how to help at risk plants. I look forward to hearing from you soon. Janine
So beautiful and inspiring, thank you for this superb read