Tuesday, October 14, 2014

multifactorial synergy

In a recent newsletter from Fedco, the idea of multifactorial synergy was applied to the landscape, the ways in which plants respond to the complex environment in which they grow. 
When we choose what to plant around our homes, we have an opportunity to participate in that complex system. We can cultivate the monoculture lawn and the monoculture garden and orchard if we choose. Or we can take another tack. We can plant a diversity of species. We can throw out labels like “ornamental” and think instead about interactions and collaborations... Much of the landscape we see is contrived by people. We’re part of the synergy! Fortunately, plants and people love each other’s company. Without us, a lot of them wouldn’t be here. Without them, none of us would be here. 
John Bunker & Susan Kiralis, Fedco Trees website 


We happened to be happening through Clinton this weekend at the time of the annual Fedco Bulb and Plant Sale.  And by happened, I mean I had it in the calendar and planned it, but did not tell anyone else in my family until I pulled off the highway.  Familynapped perhaps, but for a good cause.


I have tried to explain my love for Fedco.  Here and here.  But I fear I am not able to describe it adequately.  I love this unassuming warehouse by the highway.  Full of an enormous supply of cold hardy, Northern climate adaptive plants and seeds and supplies.  And I love the friendly, knowledgable, earthy people that I find there.  These people know their stuff, share in the work, and are, curiously, artists.  This is a wreath made from tree tags and a bow from plastic wrap.  They reuse, repurpose, and make even the tags and shredded newspaper seem beautiful.


And everything, truly everything, at Fedco requires signage and explanation.  Because I think they acknowledge that there are people like me there who are new to this, who are dipping their toes in the movement but who need a good deal of guidance.  Even in the bathroom, with work gloves hanging in the background.


We spent some time lingering at the heritage apple table.  Thinking about the trees on our property at home that are very old, still bearing fruit, and in need of some care.  We hope to restore them.  We hope our bees are helping to pollinate them better.  We hope our care for the land here is beginning to provide a heathier, richer, solid base for them to grown within.  To help them bear healthy fruit again, holding onto the fruit for longer before it drops, small and dense, to the ground.  I think we know where to start to get some help now.  Perhaps we have something at home that they too are looking for.


All around Maine, ancient apple trees are showing their colors. Somewhere out there, some trees have produced a few rare heirloom apple varieties that MOFGA would like to know about. You may have unknowingly seen them in your travels, perhaps not giving them much thought. But, you should. They are some of many rare local varieties that played a key role in Maine’s small scale diversified agriculture for nearly three hundred years. Listed below are some varieties and their likely general locations. We think we may have located three of them, and we are working with folks in different regions of the state to verify the discoveries. 
MOFGA website

This is a place of good folk.  Who will tell you what to do with your old forgotten apple trees.  And also jump start your car when you have left the lights on for a few minutes too long, so entranced you were by their tellings of heritage apples.  Because Fedco people drive pickup trucks.  And always have jumper cables in their car.  Because these people are smart.  And generous.  And hearty.

And also?  They provide snacks for the shopper.


Which is also very smart.  With true earthy toppings of olive oil and Herbamare, described as inextricably both a seasoning and a foodstuff (l looked it up, because I was curious).  And, of course, nutritional yeast.


Where classes are offered in the adjacent loading bay.  


In small snug quiet circles atop organic straw bales.  How do I know this?  Signage, of course.


I was here, just a few short months ago, in this warehouse.   Alone.  And things looked a bit different.  More trees.  More things that were green, or looking like they were about to come alive instead of about to go to sleep.





I grabbed flower bulbs while my family bathroomed, thinking about the crocuses I planted last year that were covered in bees early this spring.   Wanting to give them more.  I placed garlic bulbs in small paper bags.

I made eyes at the bee forage plants.


Thinking about how I had fed my bees sugar syrup early that morning before we headed out, in the fall dearth we now are.  Thinking about how I can continue to plant mindfully, feed and support one aspect that will then support another.  Knowing that most importantly, these decisions and acts are ultimately supporting us and our connections to each other and to the earth.  You know, multifactorial synergy.


With the vendor's blessing, I chose a rosemary plant to care for indoors this winter and outside come spring.  She called the one I chose her favorite.  I had to agree.


The vendors were hip.


And were poets.


And were skilled in the visual arts.


I will be back.  In April.


And this time I am bringing Jonathan.  Who now, having seen it, loves this place as much as I do.



It's all an ongoing interwoven, interactive system.  The landscape.  And the people who care for and tend within it.

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