Seeding of a pollinator habitat

Slovak

Our Lady of the Woods

Ground cedar

Ground cedar

Ryan Conner, Happy Tonics Volunteer in Hayward, WI has a native habitat in his front yard. A few years ago, he decided to stop mowing. Bravo!

A visit to tranquility

A visit to tranquility

This past winter Ryan sent me some seed that he gathered from his own property. I am implementing a Wild Butterfly Habitat, on Ashby West Road, Fitchburg, MA. It is on family land and private.

RYAN’S NATIVE SEED:

Asclepias syriaca common milkweed

Desmodium canadense Showy tick-trefoil

Echinacea pallida Pale purple coneflower

Ratibida pinnata Gray-headed coneflower

Rudbeckia laciniata Green-headed coneflower

Solidago speciosa Showy goldenrod

I also bought seed packages for the following plants that were also scattered.

PACKAGED SEED:

Nepeta cataria Catmint

Aguilegia canadensis Columbine

Artemisia caudatus Love lies bleeding

Artemisia tricolor Joseph’s coat

Monarca media Monarda

Ecinacea purpurea Purple conflower

Helanthus spp. Sunflower

 

Ryan Conner proudly stands next to his Conservation Star Home Award sign

Ryan Conner proudly stands next to his Conservation Star Home Award sign.

I won’t look for instantaneous results. I have found that native seed sprouts when conditions are compatible to its growing needs. Sometimes seed can lay dormant for years before it emerges. We will see as time develops what takes.

In the meantime, I have put up a driftwood recycled birdhouse. This week another fanciful bird house for my sister’s grandchildren, a small shrine for for La Senora de Guadalupe and a wildflower wood-chime will be placed at the habitat.

Beauty is etheral

Beauty is ethereal

My sister Ronnie already thoughtfully brought a chair up to the habitat for me. It is set in the cool of the pine grove. She also planted ground cover succulents in an old wooden log that had the center eaten out by some critter. Each touch we add will offer refuge to me. There is a reason for this. My life is centered on living a purpose driven life. It is busy with speaking tours, leading restoration gardens, implementing pollinator habitats, teaching environmental classes and writing my third book. I simply need a place of refuge where I can unwind and listen to the wind. Here I do ceremony for water and communicate with the Creator’s natural world, which renews me. I love it so.

 

 

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Memories are in the seeds

May  – It was a very warm day, at 86 degrees Fahrenheit. High winds appeared to sap the oxygen right out of the air, as dust swirled around in small whirlwinds. I needed to plant potatoes that should have been in the ground long ago. The potato spuds had sprouted and needed to be covered by earth.

I watched the sky all day wondering when the rains would start. I knew they were coming. My rain barrels needed filling. The transplanted trees and shrubs were bone dry and leaves were wilting.

Red potatoes have pick flowers

Red potatoes have pick flowers

I saved over aged russets potatoes with eyes. This year, I bought red and yellow starter potatoes to add to the mix. For many years, I have been planting a diverse crop of potatoes together. It appears to keep potato beetles away. I have always had a  happy and healthy crop.

Potato basket hand woven by JoAnn Flanagan, Oregon, OH

Potato basket hand woven by JoAnn Flanagan, Oregon, OH

Last year, I was able to use my own potatoes right up to the middle of march. Imagine that! What a thrill. Not to have to go to the grocery store to buy potatoes for nearly a whole winter. I knew where my potatoes came from. I was enjoying being sustainable and providing for my own food.

The same day, I planted a bed of beans. This year I added Kebarika bush shell bean, bought from organic Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, in Virginia. The bean species is purple, looking much like the scarlet runner. The bean was added to a mix of saved Hidasta, black, and white soup beans. I’ll grow the vine beans up on devised bean poles.

Sample of biodiversity of potatoes crop 2009

Sample of biodiversity of potatoes crop 2009

After I finished planting the potatoes, I started weeding the next bed. Lo and behold, the garlic I planted from seed in 2009 was growing. I thought it had died out last year, but it hadn’t. I dug one up to make sure it truly was the garlic grown from seed. Saved seed do have stories. I remember a man had come to our seed saving workshop, at Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO) Ojibwa College’s Wellness Fair, at the LCO Convention Center. I wish I knew his name. He told me his grandmother had brought garlic seed to American, when she immigrated from Poland. He has been growing the garlic ever since. I felt honored that he thought to give Happy Tonics the memory seed. How I wish today I had his telephone number. I could call him up to tell him the continuing seed story from Minong, Wisconson.

I realized in 2009 that I had to start writing down people’s names after this experience.  How could one carry on the story without a name? Seed is handed down from one person, culture, and tradition to another. It isn’t a story of just the seed, but the people who lovingly tended the seed making sure the seed was passed to the next generation. Yes, the man was an elder. His story was important even when he didn’t think so.

I hope if you are a seed saver, you will remember to write down the person’s name and pass the story on.

Butterfly Corner with Happy Tonics

Butterfly Corner
by Mary Ellen Ryall

April 20 – In honor of Earth Day, Jim VanMoorleham and I planted five native chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) shrubs in area three, near the Memory Tree Grove, at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat. Black chokeberry is a deciduous, cold hardy shrub useful in landscape plantings, showing white flowers in the spring, colorful red foliage, and heavy dark fruit in the fall.

Meadow fritillary copyright Mike Reese, Wisconsin Butterflies Organization

Meadow fritillary copyright Mike Reese, Wisconsin Butterflies Organization

April 24 – Today I saw a white cabbage and a fritillary butterfly. The fritillary’s host plant is violet; flowers are in bloom. Butterfly sightings were posted to Wisconsin Butterfly Organization at http://wisconsinbutterflies.org/Individuals may record their butterfly sightings at this site. Kids would enjoy this activity as much as adults do. The project allows us to understand butterfly population trends.

My Name is Butterfly copyright Mary Ellen Ryall

I am happy to report that my book, “My Name is Butterfly,” is now available at Gadsden Public Library in Gadsden, AL. I am thrilled that libraries around the country are purchasing the book for children. Book postcards also went to the State Library Convention in AL where it was given exposure to other librarians.

According to ABC News, “A female Baringo giraffe calf at the Bronx Zoo was enjoying the warm New York weather over the weekend while frolicking with a butterfly that flew through her exhibit. The butterfly caught the newborn baby’s eye while she was nuzzling her mom and exploring her new home. The calf was born in March but has not yet been named, according to the Bronx Zoo. All of the zoo’s giraffes are named in memory of James and Margaret Carter, benefactors for the Carter Giraffe Building.” You can view the chase at http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/baby-giraffe-chases-butterfly-bronx-zoo-16151869

Award winning squash bread copyright Mary Ellen Ryall

Award winning squash bread copyright Mary Ellen Ryall

April 25 – My recipe for Squash Bread was a winner at the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College Sustainability Living Fair. The bread was chosen for Jiibaakweyang, We are Cooking Together, Flavors of Lac Courte Oreilles. I was delighted to share saved squash seed with attendees. The acorn squash grew in the Three Sisters Garden at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in 2011. Seed sharing is all about stories of where seed comes from. At the fair, Sheldon Spratford gave me beautiful corn husks. He reported that his grandmother grew the corn until the 1980s, when she passed away. He found one husk of dried corn at her house afterwards and saved it. Sheldon, an elder, mentioned that he has been growing the sweet corn since the 1990s. He mentioned that the corn is sweet and small. Happy Tonics will offer the seed at several environmental events in May. The Visitors Center/Store will be open for the season on Memorial Weekend. We invite you to stop by for sweet corn seed.

April 26 – Journey North reported that the monarch migration moved into five new U.S. states—Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa, and Minnesota this past week. The cold snap is keeping monarchs away from Shell Lake; there is no milkweed up yet in the habitat. Let us hope that a warming spell will begin soon.

Carol Hubin reported on April 28 that milkweed is up on her property in Shell Lake. Keep your eyes posted. If you spot a monarch, please let us know if it is a faded butterfly or freshly born. Knowing the difference will allow Happy Tonics to record the following: Did the butterfly fly all the way from Mexico or is this the first generation of butterfly in the U. S.? Female butterflies will need milkweed to lay their eggs on. Female butterflies only live a few weeks after depositing eggs.

In 2012, we are going to count monarch eggs at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat and mark milkweed plants that have eggs. Wire cages with tags will be used to identify which milkweed plants have eggs. If you have any old tomato cages to donate or see a monarch sighting, please call Mary Ellen at (715) 466-5349.

Ginger Wilcox smudges Mike Carpenter

Ginger Wilcox smudges Mike Carpenter

April 28 – 5th Annual Earth Day Event in Shell Lake was well attended. We are grateful to Dr. John Anderson and Ginger Wilcox for leading us in a Native American Ceremony to honor donors. Butterfly friends came to celebrate the butterfly and conservation efforts on behalf of the butterfly. Happy Tonics hosted an informal potluck afterwards at the Visitors Center/Store at 25 Fifth Avenue, Shell Lake.

Butterfly Corner – March 23, 2012

March 23 – The 2nd Annual Northwest Wisconsin Regional Food Summit was held at Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College. John Peck, Family Farm Defenders, was keynote speaker. The topic: Food Sovereignty. In the not so distant past, the family farm and home garden were responsible for supplying food on the table. This system radically changed during the “Green Revolution.” Currently in our everyday lives, we have found out that a globalized food chain has come at a very high cost. Fuel for transportation has risen; seed has gone to hybrid and patented GMO; animals are owned of big Ag-chemical companies. What is wrong with this picture? Food Sovereignty is imperative for food security.

Last year I raised my own vegetables. I learned to can, freeze, dehydrate and dry my foods and herbs. I bought Bashaw’s organic berries and grass fed frozen beef. The organic farm is located on Highway 63, between Spooner and Shell Lake, WI. I know this food is healthy. In 2011, Lac Courte Oreilles Public Library published Jiibaakweywang, We are Cooking together, Flavors of Lac Courte Oreillis. Sandy Stein’s award winning recipe 3 Step Manoomin (wild rice) is published in the book. Sandy is Happy Tonics Secretary. She started a Happy Tonics garden plot of native and medicinal herbs in 2011. This is a seed saving project.

My recipe for Organic Four Grain Health Bread was published in Jiibaakweywang. I used amaranth (red root, pig weed) from the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake. Who knew that wild edibles would be part of the native plant community, in the Native Wildflower and Butterfly Garden? The collaborative book project was made possible by the Institute of Museum Library Services Enhancement Grant for Native American Library Sciences. The focus of the project is to target areas of health, the environment, and traditional culture.

April 14 – Last year over 100 people attended the Gadsden, Alabama, Public Library Local Author Day, which according to Julie Dobbins, is a fun and exciting event! The yearly event provides a great opportunity to discover new writers, buy some books, and get them signed by the author. My Name is Butterfly, written by Mary Ellen Ryall, will be on display at the event. Colorful postcards, with details on how to purchase the book on Amazon, will be available to fellow authors and the public.  It is near impossible to attend all the writer events, such as this; when we are so far off the beaten path. I consider it a great privilege to have my book at the Gadsden, Alabama, Public Library Local Author Day event.

The Aldo Leopold film, Green Fire, will be shown on TV in April. The film is about land ethics. Aldo Leopold Foundation says, “The first full-length documentary film ever made about legendary environmentalist Aldo Leopold, Green Fire, highlights Leopold’s extraordinary career, tracing how he shaped and influenced the modern environmental movement. Leopold remains relevant today, inspiring projects all over the country that connect people and land.” We should all be proud that the environmentalist lived in Wisconsin. Leopold wrote his famous book Sand Country Almanac in our own state.   See the following times and channels:

Friday, April 20 at 8pm on WPT; Sunday, April 22 at 2pm on The Wisconsin Channel; and
Tuesday, April 24 at 11pm on WPT.

March 22 – Monarch butterfly news. Due to the unusually warm temperatures and high winds blowing north from the Gulf of Mexico, over the last two weeks, the butterfly has traveled further north at record speed. According to Journey North, the monarch has already reached Kansas, a distance of 1,200 miles from Mexico. There is concern that the monarch is ahead of the normal migration cycle, usually the monarch is in Kansas on April 15. Scientists are diligently watching for an “ecological mismatch.”  The monarchs are at a critical time in life. It is this generation that reproduces the next generation of butterflies. Will milkweed be up and ready for the laying of eggs on milkweed this early in the season?

In December, Dr. Lincoln Brower and other scientists count the number of Oyemal fir trees that have overwintering monarchs. The Mexican count showed the monarch population down by 28 percent from last year. This is an ongoing trend. Part of the cause is the continued plundering by illegal loggers in and around the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary in Mexico.

Another concern is the loss of milkweed in breeding habitat. “Dr. Karen Oberhauser is co-author of newly published research. Her study found a 58% decline in milkweed and an 81% decline in monarch egg production in agricultural fields of the Midwest,” Source: Journey North.

HOPE – WE NEED TO SEE the movie FRESH

Lacinto kale.  Italian heirloom from 18th century.
Lacinto kale. Italian heirloom from 18th century.

Just when we thought the global food battle was lost to genetic engineering (GE) in Washington, DC, along comes hope.  I am thrilled to speak about the Good Food Movement.

 The movie FRESH will be out this spring.  Watch the movie trailer at  http://www.freshthemovie.com/

Happy Tonics promotes the importance of local grown and organic crops and grass fed animals for dairy, poultry and meat.

FRESH the film is already marching forward in Wisconsin.  You can view the film in Hayward, on January 31, at 2 p.m. at the Park Theatre.  The film features Joel Salatin from Polyface farm, Shenandoah, Virginia, and Will Allen, of California’s Growing Power.  Both of these extraordinary people have been instrumental in the Good Food Movement.  Allen says,
“The Good Food Movement is now a Revolution.”

If each and every one of us can take this message home and practice it, we can change the global food marketplace one plate at a time.  Remember Margaret Meade said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” 

Visit Will Allen at www.growingpower.org/blog

Visit Joel Salatin at http://www.polyfacefarms.com/

Let us know how we can work together to promote food sustainability in our own neighborhoods right where we live.  Home is where the heart is.  Let’s hear from yours. 

Good day, Mary Ellen 

Soup Stock III Sustainable Agriculture

Basket of abundance

Basket of abundance

Happy Tonics exhibited at Soup Stock III at Little Footprint Farm, in Turtle Lake, Wisconsin, on 19 September 2009.  The annual event was hosted by Mike Brenna at his sustainabile farm.  I loved the beautiful biodiversity of crops in the gardens.  Mike is growing Oneida corn, a traditional tribal corn, that is grown by the Oneida Indian Nation near Green Bay.  The Oneida originally came from New York State and corn seed came to Wisconin in 1992.  I originated in New York State also and so like the Ojibwe,  Oneida and the white flint corn, I migrated to Wisconsin in December 2006.

I was thrilled that Mike shared three ears of Oneida white flint corn with Happy Tonics.  We distributed a small amount of seed at a seed saving session at the Lac Courte Oreilles Sustainable Living and Wellness Fair, on 25 September 2009, at the Lac Courte Oreilles Convention Center.  You can view my video of event and a migration story of the monarch and food safety issues at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZ7vl9qJIAA

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We will use seed as a teaching tool at events and when we are presenting at conferences.  Seed will be planted in 2010 with the grow out intention of seed saving for our native seed distribution program.  

Learn from http://nativeharvest.com/node/3 the benefits of a traditional diet of native foods in restoring health and reconnecting to native cultural heritage.  White Earth Reservation is honored by Slow Food Movement at http://www.indiancountrytoday.com/living/health/48620117.html  Learn about the story that the three sisters (Corn, beans, squash) gave the tribe at http://www.cias.wisc.edu/curriculum/modII/secb/Tsyunhehkwa2.pdf

 Happy day

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