One of the things I have been saying for the past several years (decade?), even before we had land, was that I wanted to have a botanical sanctuary where we grow medicinals, natives, and restore native endangered plants from our region. The past two years have had big changes moving to this property, and working to create beds, gardens, prairie, wooded areas, and encourage the continued growth of natives and planting even more, particularly of the endangered and at-risk plants.
We have planted hundreds of medicinals from seedlings we started here, we have many food and medicinal beds, we have a woodland area with medicinals, mushroom logs, and wild fruit. We have a greenhouse, perennials that are ever expanding. We have done so much work, but we do always have more to do. We got to a place last winter where I felt we had done enough to qualify for a botanical sanctuary, and get our status out into the minds of our neighbors, so we have an awareness of our goals and vision for the future on this land.
I am happy to say that we found out just last week that Lunar Hollow Farm is now officially a United Plant Savers Botanical Sanctuary, and, a Certified Wildlife Habitat. I feel like that classification ties in well with future educational offerings, projects such as the Open Source Plant Walk Project I am working on, the native nursery I have been creating, and the ongoing expansion of this work and sharing of knowledge regarding medicinal plant growing and native cultivation. We are here to steward the land, and support the ongoing healing of this soil and landscape to supporting plants, wildlife, and microbia that would be here naturally. Living with this in harmony with human interaction and the always present monocropped landscape of the Wisconsin rural areas, we are cleaving out only a small but important space.
Our long-term goal here includes not only growing more self-sustaining foods for our own family, expanding the medicinal and native gardens to include more at risk plants, and to use this space to teach others about herbalism, plants, conservation, and more.
While the pandemic has changed our ability to have people here so far this year - we had planned on having people visit to help plant, learn more about medicinal plant growing, and to help with harvesting plants for Herbalists Without Borders clinic donations -but the land keeps growing and changing, no matter if one or 100 people are here. So, some ideas are in the works for more online offerings and the open source plant walk as app and wiki for all to use.
This summer has been a good one so far with so many new plantings and systems setup. I plan to update the master plant list and share more about some of the work we have started to lead into the future of Lunar Hollow. For now though, we celebrate our status as a Botanical Sanctuary, and think of ways to share the abundance and beauty of this space with others!
Out in the country, property lines are not always perfect rectangles or squares. For our property, I imagine that breaking a few acres off of farmland involved odd surveying from 150+ year old lines combined with when the town added a road that used to be a driveway 100 years ago. So when they cleaved this land it had to be plots legally switched to rural residential. The hard thing about that is a) what in the world do you do with a point, b) add in township easements for plowing and roads and it is a weirder thing, and c) nobody thinks your land is a point and that it must be attached to these farm fields.
I Am lucky that in that pint there are also elderberries in there, Wild blackberries, nettles, ground ivy, white vervain, pineapple weed, motherwort, and cleavers. So I feel protective of that little rocky pile.
So, one of our plans is to create a split fence on both sides of the farmer easement (he gets a 30’ wide slot to pass through our land to access fields), Install signs, and plant into that area native flowers that are clearly intentional.
A future plan also includes plant walks and classes here as well as selling nursery starts of medicinals, so creating an area people can park is important so they don’t block the road. I would also love to Install a yurt if airstream up front as a workshop classroom guest room - maybe with a gazebo and outdoor pizza oven. Wouldn’t that be amazing?
So who has a farm sign? I’m thinking a farm sign up on that split fence would be good - and we can attach our certified wildlife habitat sign to that, monarch way station sign to that, and if we ever hear back on the botanical sanctuary application, the botanical sanctuary sign to that. Who has a good sign company that you are happy with?
Easements, pass throughs, zoning, odd shapes, and 150 year old rock piles is pretty normal in the world of rural living. Navigating that in a way that respects the land and plants living on it is a part of the rural juggling act. Working on it.
Odd shaped plots also makes drawing plans a challenge - the point is so long it is hard to get it to fit on standard paper without shrinking the rest down too much. Here is a plan with only part of the point!
We are over 70 days into our lockdown here, to keep our high risk people safe. Nobody has gone into a store or even for curbside. We use what we can have delivered (rurally), and have a quarantine process so we don't bring anything into the house. We live in the country so we have had to adjust a bit to get the things we need - particularly the gf/df/non-allergy things for Aidan, but we are doing really well and we are not really feeling anything too different since we already worked from home, homeschooled, and must be hyper-careful to protect Aidan from viruses in the winter. The biggest change has been that we cannot go to the Children's Hospital during this time, and Aidan is in limbo.
The good is that we are getting ourselves prepared for wave 2 and forward, including expanding our gardens to grow more herbs and food, to grow more fruit, and to include other necessities such as more potatoes, grains, oats, seeds. We are stocking up on canning supplies, fermentation supplies, grains, pectin, and other items in case there are shortages some day in the future. We had a cold storage room finished off last fall, and it is perfect for the large 5 gallon buckets of flour and dehydrated foods. I also store all the dried herbs in there so they are cool and dark. It will still double as a perfectly wonderful tornado shelter, too!
All of this happened when I was starting seeds, so we have just started even more. I also anticipated a bit, and had pre-ordered all of my seeds, soil, fertilizers (kelp, fish meal), etc., back in January. Whew! I also pre-ordered a 7x15' initial greenhouse which we are setting up as a permaculture forest greenhouse, where it will be an enclosed raised bed growing things that like staying hot, and doubling for seed starting in the spring. We were waiting for the spring winds to be done, and will put up the greenhouse this weekend.
I had planned to have people here in late May to help with planting, learning about medicinal herb growing, endangered native medicinals, and to help kickoff the open source plant walk project. With uncertainty in the future, I am planning on making a series of educational videos including plant walks, planting medicinals, harvesting and drying medicinal herbs, growing native plants, backyard conservation, and more. The open source plant walk project will also kickoff here with infrastructure to start, and pre-populating some items with the initial info on a directory of plants. I have applied for a few small grants to help get this project rolling, and will continue working on it with Brice so it can be shared to the world. I have started working on content and information as well as the wiki, and I think it will be a wonderful tool to be used by all.
I hope you are all doing well and hanging in there. Here is to health and happy seedlings.
I am a certified aromatherapist, clinical herbalist, organic gardener, plant conservationist, photographer, writer, designer, artist, nature lover, whole foods maker, and mother of two unschooled boys in south central Wisconsin.