Sanctuary Stewards: Alison Strever and Lindsay Caesar
MagMell Farm, gently resting at the base of the Appalachian hills,is 57 acres of forest, field, river, and wetlands, and home to an increasing array of native and cultivated plants, over a hundred of which are medicinally used. Gaelic for “Fields of Love”, MagMell is located in historically renowned “Dark Corner”, rich with stories from early America and the colorful prohibition times.
While clearing acres of junk, old tires, and other debris, we simultaneously discovered the historical relics of a charming pile of old bottles and two stills, complete with axe marks in attempted destruction! Keeping these charming oddities, we planted the land, now with a small orchard, a hundred blueberry plants, and rapidly increasing vegetable and herb gardens. In the more natural areas by the creek, we lightly planted a bit of this and that, planting more of what did well.
Naturally growing plants include butterfly weed, partridge berry, pipsissewa, trillium, rattlesnake plantain, passionflower, bunched arrowhead, hawthorne, and Indian cucumber. Successful plantings from the United Plant Savers at-risk and to-watch lists include bloodroot, blue cohosh, goldenseal, Virginia snakeroot, wild yam, mayapple, stone root and wild indigo.Watching these seed and spread has been joyful and educational–we know to follow their lead!
In the last year we have focused on plant workshops and open houses as we strengthen and develop community ties. We had visits from college classes, nature/gardening groups, and schoolchildren. We present a general overview of a plant-centered life, a typical format including a garden and medicinal trail “walk ‘n talk”, luncheon with wild edibles, tea sampling, herbal medicine-making, hands-on demos and sustainable/organic gardening and propagation techniques.
As winter approaches we are looking to improve our plant labeling and trail marking techniques, and finishing a little guide map. And there is more to plant, of course!