For the last few years, we have been visiting our friend’s garden during the fall harvest season. The beautiful space surrounded by birch trees elicits a sense of welcome and peace. He’d show us around his lush garden and invite us to harvest a myriad of medicinal herbs to bolster our home apothecary for the winter. It was such a gift, and I looked forward to it every year. In that garden, I met many of my plant family members in person for the first time: elecampane, yellow dock, angelica, valerian, calamus and motherwort among others.
We dreamed of having a space like that: full of life, medicine growing all over and room for our community to gather. We began the search for the perfect piece of land to make our vision reality. Fast forward to a couple years ago, our friend and his family moved to Colorado to begin a new farming adventure, leaving the garden in need of new caretakers. Could we inherit the very dream garden we wanted to build, layered with rich soil and already home to perennial medicinal herbs? It took almost a year of waffling back and forth, but we finally made the decision to buy the property and take on the garden as our own.
I still feel that sense of welcome and peace when I step onto this land (it’s a real joy to love where you live!). The mark left by our friends, the previous caretakers, is one of care and delight and humor and love. I spent some time settling in and exploring the property. I would go on little adventures to find what I’ve been calling treasures: delightful gifts tucked in the nooks and crannies of this space- a bicycle powered blender (which we fully intend to make functional this summer!), a wood-fired cooking stove, a set net for fishing, jars of dried herbs and tinctures, tiles, kites, shells, skulls, stones and bones...pretty much everything you ever wanted.
This land has been loved and well-cared for. It holds the history of those who lived, worked and played here before us. I reflect with a sense of delight on all the good people that have shared this space, cooked meals in the tarp bar (an outdoor kitchen space) and harvested from the bounty of the land. The old posters and notes in the outhouse bring a smile to my face and serve as small glimpses into memories made here.
It is such a gift to have inherited this home. I look forward with gratitude to the many years of memories that will be made, to building a relationship with the land and to continuing to make this garden a communal space whose bounty is shared by many.
Note: We recognize that the original caretakers of this land are the Indigenous Peoples of Alaska. We farm on the traditional territories of the lower Tanana Dene Athabascan Peoples. We hope to share more of what this means in general and to us in another blog.