Thanks first peoples for simply living so that others may simply live. Thanks Jono Neiger for sharing this 1984 paper on indigenous agroforestry to the Northeast Permaculture Listserv.
Some Ecological Aspects of Northeastern American Indian Agroforestry Practices
This paper was written in 1984 while I was a student of Professor Arthur Lieberman at Cornell University. Professor Lieberman was then Director of the Cornell Tree Crops Research Project and taught landscape ecology in the Department of Landscape Architecture. This version was submitted to the international journal Agroforestry Systems in 1988, but never published there due to its length. A somewhat condensed version was later published in the 1994 Annual Report of the Northern Nut Growers Association (Volume 85). For a broader perspective on Native Americans’ land management practices, see this online article by Doug MacCleery.
Pursuing study and projects oriented toward alchemy and ecology, I have had the privileged opportunity to start a land project at Willows Edge Agroforest. This project is intended to make space for ecological mutualism and for a mother tree nursery that can be used to start a variety of tree nurseries. There’s lots of updates I’d like to share about that, but even with the work done and the photos taken, it takes time to report out about it.
Here’s a gallery to share a big weekend at Willows Edge. This was the an eventful occasion: the weekend of my ‘golden’ birthday, my first time camping out in the workshop-cabin now referred to as the casita (Spanish for ‘little house’), the completion of finding permanent homes for the hundreds of trees I began from seed in Fall 2019, and first sight of the organic farm starting on a lease of 2/3rds of this area. A great five days with friends and allies, human and otherwise, shared with much thanks.
Journal entry, JD175, YR2174 Location: New Heartwood, Great Lakes water unit East 37.
The mainstream still grows a harder gap to cross. It meanders more turbulent and wider. Its degraded soils worsen the waters. Bridge building continues, bank stabilization continues (thank stars for the willows), and inland waters are being healed. On days like today, I can’t help but think of all the heat and friction in the mainstream. Those high temperatures can hardly hold any dissolved oxygen, and life is slowly choked out. May the ocean of histories heal and renew.
I knew today would be like this. Most are. Hot. Dry. Dry. Even the winters are feeling drier. And even the good days are reminiscent of conditions in the mainstream now that I think of it: when we get water, it is heaved violently, it thrashes and impacts, it erodes. The waters crash down and wash up, and as they pass the ground is lost to downstream. The waters are like reflections from history, and those remaining islands and land bridges around the mainstream are generational systems, built on . . .
I won’t go on. Much progress to be made here and on the shorelines of the mainstream. Ladders, lamps, lifeboats . . . It is better inland, and I hope more life will find its way out of the mainstream and onto land, onto the earth element.
Despite being of a different world than that of the mainstream, we are still in the same world. Same goes for all the different niches in the mainstream, which fight so fiercely against each other and themselves to squeeze out what life is left.
Life is better here. Where we are a regenerative part of the landscape and not degrading or even dominating it. Where as many of our knobs are turned, as are the dials of ecosystem conditions which we try to control. Where the ways and wisdoms of the local first peoples are followed, and where we all connect with our own first personhood. Where there is ecological mutualism. Where generations behind us and ahead of us grow with us, actively in mind as we steward life and vice versa, in succession.
A nice day planting tree seeds in a field with a dear comrade. This completes my Winter 2020 seed stratification plantings. About 80 acorns went in modular air prune beds, with probably 100 more going in a section of a field that will no longer be mowed (last mowed last summer). In adjascent sections as seen in an image below, there is an area of hybrid hazelnut and shagbark hickory seed plantings (see images & video from that planting), and an area of black walnut dispersal.
As these areas stopped getting mowed they will begin succession toward forest. With some extra help from existing plant and animal communities, these planted seeds making their way up, and ecosystem management / caring disturbance from above: may this field become a bountiful food forest.
What does productive ecosystem restoration look like to you? What about mutual benefit? I consider these questions as I watch this water and seed this field.
Photos from this workday field planting trees from seed are shown below. As I work out a system for sharing photos and videos, I appreciate feedback on viewing options! Please let me know how the gallery works for you and if you have any suggestions.
Here are some photos from a fruit tree planting day at Willows Edge Agroforest. Planting was done with hand-tools forming a pit-mound forest topography for pears and apricots, planted into well-drained south-facing area in an otherwise-wet and flat field.
This post begins an exciting series in the Alchemecology project. I’m starting to post media from an agroforestry project I describe on the Willows Edge Agroforest page.
I’m exploring different image gallery options and am open to input. Please let me know suggestions or feedback in the comments below!
In those post I share photos from a workday digging small pools in Willows Edge’s wet field. Each pool was dug independently, dammed from the other pools during digging. I did this to get easy access for filling up 5gal buckets of water and to get various other benefits of small ponds in agroforest systems. Some important benefits I’m working with: soil for plantings and mounds, and improved drainage and landscape complexity for the surrounding environment. Read more to see pictures and descriptions!
The surplus of my Winter 2020 seed stratification is going toward the seed bank of this back field as it rewilds. I had planted around 80 shagbark hickories and 800 hybrid hazelnuts in air prune beds earlier this Spring. The field section being planted was mowed Summer 2019 and most of the field has been hayed for years in the past.
These seeds serve as a subtle bump toward hazels and hickories in the decades to come for this forest. The potential of these seeds will be supported by my attention and selective-removal or support for certain species as ecosystem succession brings this field through the stages of life. In adjacent sections I’ve broadcasted and planted some black walnut seeds [and later on planted acorns], and I’ll continuing building the seed bank of useful ‘provision’ trees as this area reforests. In this area, I’m aiming for low-input food forest restoration.
Photos and a video from this workday field planting trees from seed are shown below. As I work out a system for sharing photos and videos, I appreciate feedback on viewing options!