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Planting the Future: Stewardship of Sanctuary, October 4, 2014 at the Goldenseal Botanical Sanctuary in Rutland, Ohio.

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The weather was literally 20 degrees warmer with full sun the day before our big event at the Goldenseal Botanical Sanctuary in Rutland, Ohio. We were still in set up mode the evening before as the grumpy cumulus clouds moved in and hoarded the sky vowing cold, hard rain. But all hope was not lost on the incumbent weather, for when the temperature and rain both began to plummet, interspersing promises of sunshine were also breaking through, highlighting the autumnal mosaic like flecks of gold in stone and lifting our sense of hope with arching rainbows across the hollow.

The morning of the event brought our first hail of the season, but that was no match for the steadfast queue of visitors lining up at the registration table. One can only apologize for the weather so much, until it becomes clear that weather has never really stopped those who want to learn from the fields and forests (albeit it can be quite the deterrent).

Our morning session began with classes covering myriad topics including cultivating Ramps (Allium triccocum) with Tanner Filyaw of Rural Action, Herbal Beer Brewing, Medicine Making, and Landscape restoration with Todd Lynch of Ecotropy, LLC. One of the highlights of the morning was the ‘Big Herbs Expedition’ with Paul Strauss of Equinox Farm, who journeyed the meandering trail system of the Goldenseal Botanical Sanctuary with attendees to practice identifying trees by their winter characteristics and learning about their wildlife value and traditional medicinal uses.

Tim Blakley of Frontier Co-op was our keynote speaker and presented the most fascinating photographic narrative of his journeys around the planet in search of sustainably sourced raw materials for the herbal products industry. We learned so much about what ‘sustainability’ really means within the international marketplace, how to ask the right questions in regards to sustainable sourcing, and how to think critically about the products that we purchase as well as the ingredients within those products.

Our afternoon session was dazzled with a workshop on growing American Ginseng (Panax quinqifolius), led by Eric Burkhart of Shavers Creek Environmental Center and Penn State during which attendees had the hands-on opportunity to learn about ‘wild-simulated’ American Ginseng and how to grow the species by identifying proper planting sites and planting techniques. While planting ginseng in our woods, they were also able to discuss some of the larger issues within the industry in regards to disease and pests, return on investment, trade regulations, and even illegal harvest. American Ginseng seed used in the workshop was donated to United Plant Savers by Larry Harding of Harding’s Ginseng Farm.

Ian Caton of Enchanter’s Garden, a native plant guru based out of West Virginia, also led an incredible workshop on seed collection, seed saving, and preparing seed for overwintering and spring propagation. Ian led attendees around the prairies of the property teaching them native plant identification and seed collection techniques. Participants of this workshop were able to collect seed to save and plant on their own properties in the Spring.

The afternoon also hosted workshops from Dawn Combs of Mockingbird Meadows Eclectic Herbal Institute who presented on sustainable herbal medicine and rediscovering common native medicinal plants and Amanda Duren of Ohio Bird Conservation Initiative who presented current research regarding forest management techniques for improving habitat conditions for native forest birds of Ohio. Attendees listened to bird song recordings then toured through the woods to explore prime bird habitat at the Goldenseal Botanical Sanctuary.

United Plant Savers would like to thank our gracious and generous sponsors: Herb Pharm, Frontier Co-op, American Herbalists Guild, LearningHerbs.com, Rural Action, and the National Forest Foundation. We would also like to thank Chelsea and crew from Chelsea’s Real Food of Athens, Ohio for the amazing lunch, dinner, and breakfast and for having hot tea and coffee on a cold, dreary morning. We would also like to thank The Hammond Trio of Athens, Ohio for enchanting our campfire with lovely and uplifting melodies of good ol’ Appalachian bluegrass music! We would also like to thank Chip Carroll, our intern coordinator, and our Fall 2014 interns for their incredible support and assistance in preparing for and coordinating the event.

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