Little Knife Wild Medicinals Sanctuary

Duluth, MN
Steward: Friede Rica

The Little Knife Botanical Sanctuary is located in a transition zone, ecologically speaking, between the southern hardwood forests and the boreal evergreen woods of the north. It consists of 19.7 acres situated 1 mile inland from Lake Superior and about 12 miles northeast of Duluth, MN along Hwy 61. We, my father and I, have owned the property for the past 15 years and have recently started to craft our vision of an environmental arts and herbal center. The Little Knife River cuts the property in two sections—the smaller section on the western side is being developed with a small garden, apple orchard and a couple of airstream trailers outfitted with wood-burning stoves. The larger portion is being kept wild with a few small trails for guided tours.

What makes this land special, beyond what makes all land and wild spaces special, is that it contains within its relatively small boundaries a diversity of ecological communities including a grove of virgin old growth white pines. This grove of grandfather and grandmother trees is very rare in northern Minnesota where the logging of the 1920s wiped out almost all of the pine forests. There are also northern white cedar groves and a mixed wood of maples, paper birch and aspens.

My goal for this spring and summer’s conservation project is to scatter seeds of endangered wild medicinals that I have already found growing, including Solomon’s seal, false Solomon’s seal, nodding trillium and bloodroot. I am also planning on helping the white pine seedlings to get a foothold between the spruce, which are growing up fast around them. We will begin having open hours for self-guided tours all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday (May-Oct) and guided tours one day a month.

In this life it is a blessing to have access to such beautiful wild Space, and it is important for us to share it with others. Because of the history that surrounds land ownership on this continent and the stories our families hold of acquisition and loss, I am striving to create a space that is welcoming and nurturing for all life, both human and non-human. In the end we all come from the land, and we all return to the land. It is everything.