Hawthorn Way Botanical Sanctuary

East Meredith, NY
Sanctuary Stewards: Steven Bower and Marguerite Uhlmann-Bower

In January 2007, we walked and intuited what is now our 12 acres of hillside, woodland, wetland and open pasture for the building of our new home—and the dream I’d been waiting for, a UpS At-Risk medicinal plant sanctuary. What attracted us to this land was its feel. We sensed a solid grounding force and light loving connection. It is untouched by civilized man and perhaps only walked on in the days when natives passed through for food. It didn’t take us long to realize why we were being pulled here, as we realized that finding where we would build and garden would be a great challenge. Much of the land has a 15% land slope and required some shifting of soil. It was hawthorn that dotted the landscape throughout and pulled our hearts to stay here. Preparing the hillside took time, patience and a lot of planning and re-planning. We wanted to ensure that pasture was left open for our neighboring goat farmers and the wetlands, woodlands and open hillside for wild and cultivated medicinal plant cultivation. I put the thought out that this would make a perfect plant sanctuary and almost like from the sky we were gifted with over 50 wild medicinals (at-risk, too) from Don White in Albany New York. These included black cohosh, goldenseal, bloodroot, red trillium, wild ginger and Solomon’s seal. Today, 2 years later, these plants have acclimated wonderfully and are accompanied by numerous wild edibles and medicinals, including (of course) hawthorn, which adorns nearly every trail, hedgerow and corner of our land.

All the transplanting was accomplished in a group effort by 6 dedicated students this past spring (2009). They have been the driving force, assisting in the preparation for a UpS Plant Sanctuary. We will continue to keep in the gathering spirit as we know it completes the circle of learning. Sharing, receiving, observing and transforming—a total inclusive experience.

Our plan is to introduce, through experiential workshops, At-Risk plants (wild medicinals and edibles) and medicinal herb cultivation using bio-dynamic principles to our youth, as they are the future stewards of our planet. This will happen through after- school programs each spring and summer with 3 internship mentors from spring, summer and fall. There will be development of plant species awareness, medicinal plant propagation, assisting in trail building, animal habitat preparation and upkeep and development of a Monarch Habitat Way Station through fostering local milkweeds and other nectar plants. One weekend a month there will be a two-hour guided medicinal plant walk from May through September. Each year interns will have the opportunity to create future year programs.

Overall we want to be exemplary earth stewards who support biodiversity and maintain the United Plant Savers mission to protect native medicinal plants. And keep in plant awareness—If you listen, they will teach you.