Mars Hill, North Carolina, Madison County
Hello! Our developing 1+ acre forest garden lies on a steep, droughty, southwest facing hillside of horrendously denuded soil. Sounds awful right? Well, that’s exactly what a forest gardener should start with. A depleted landscape, such as the one we started with, is just yearning for some loving humans to set foot onto it and plant the seeds of a forest garden.
Our site is changing rapidly. Each year our nitrogen fixing trees reach higher towards the sky while driving their fertility building roots a inch-by-inch deeper into the ever improving soil of the hillside. In the most developed corners of the garden, the once bare sun baked clay is now teeming with life; it’s structure becoming more friable and porous. Where once there was not a single earth worm is now a seething tapestry of life, that you can actually hear, after a spring rain, turning the soil over, eating and breathing.
Among our fertility building crops we have planted myriad fruit and nut trees, shrubs for food and medicine, perennial herbs and vegetables, annual crops and mushrooms. Every year we yield a little more variety and build a little more resilience in the system. One day the garden will yield much (if not most) of our food and medicine, with little annual input.
I believe we, the industrial and globalized people of today will benefit by working with the world’s vast spectrum of species, alongside the ancient wisdom which remains from indigenous cultures and the new knowledge stemming from science. By stitching all of these things together we can build systems which repair our shattered planet more quickly than if we simply leave the landscape to its own devices.
Industrialized human beings are a force of destruction that is unlike anything this planet has ever seen before. But the same well of human energy that gives rise to such destruction, can, and will, bring about a new age of creation. Our species has landed on Mars and split the atom! We can perform anything, short of miracles. It is our human duty to ensure this phenomenal power of creativity which lies in each of us be used toward the cultivation of a better world. A world free of slavery, free of poverty, free of war and a world rich in resources. You will create such a world!
We are excited to share what we learn with the growing community of forest gardeners and exchange with a community of people on this same journey. There exists an infinite expanse of learning and exploration before us. Our forest garden is significant unto itself, but in the light of what is to come our garden is just one step in an ever evolving journey.
We are becoming indigenous to these southern Appalachian mountains. With each new plant we come to understand, or each new soil building technique we develop, we become ever more ingrained in our landscape. We industrialized consumers will do good and become as much a part of these forests as the chestnut tree once was. We will become a keystone species!
The mission for our forest garden is, first and foremost, TO LIVE! To touch the soil, to taste the fruit, to sip the fragrant spring air with our nostrils; this is our first goal. Along the way we are learning as much as we possibly can about how to foster abundance and create the conditions which enable us to go on living. To do so in a way which enriches all life we touch. And we will share with you, everything we learn on this journey, and are excited to learn from all of you. Tell us what your eyes see, tell us what the wind whispers to you while in your garden. This nonprofit will be the mycorrhizae which binds our forest garden community together, relaying our experiences and findings from one gardener to the next.