• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

A Shaman's Garden  RSS feed

 
Dave Bennett
Posts: 686
1
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
As a youngster growing up in a Norman Rockwell type small town in upstate NY I had the opportunity to observe a variety of gardening "styles."  The garden that dominates those pleasant memories was the one of my next door neighbor Arthur Hodges, a Native American.  He had the most unusual garden in town.  It had the appearance of a haphazard array of vegetables, flowers, and shrubbery most of it edible while all the rest of my neighbor's gardens were laid out "conventionally" in neat rows. They were always weeding and tending to controlling the "critters" while Arthur was most often seen just sitting on his front porch with a glass of iced tea.

Arthur was in his 80's when I was in elementary school back in the 50's.  He used to share stories with me about growing up learning the skills of his father, a tribal Shaman or "medicine man."  Spending countless hours on his front porch listening to stories of "the old ways" was truly a wonderful educational experience.

His garden was actually a well designed predominantly self sustaining source of much of his food and medicinal herbs.  Even the sunflowers in the corner were self planted.  I remember asking him why he always left one of them standing without taking the seeds.  "So I don't have to replant" was his answer.  He never actually had to do much maintenance at all.  He removed some weeds when planting some annuals using the chop and drop method.  He also culled the grass back on the path that meandered through his wonderment of biodiversity.  I would point out that he had rules about which direction the path was to be walked.   He called it his Shaman's Garden and the path had to be traveled in one direction.  I do hope that with some work with my gray matter I can recall more specifics about how it was set up.  It was a very long time ago.  I do remember that it was around 40 feet wide and perhaps 60 to 80 feet long.  There was a path at the lower end that went straight across the bottom but access to the garden began in the lowest point furthest away from his home and wound hill a gentle slope with a 180 turn at the top and back down much like an elongated M exiting nearest his house. 

Those memories of what would now be defined as an example of mini-permaculture were forever implanted in my mind.  I believe that those experiences have been guiding me in my love of growing my own food ever since.  I just thought it was organic gardening but over the last 8 or so years I have had my path illuminated with much brilliance by opening the door to those memories of learning from Arthur about the "old ways" of the forest people that populated the northeast.
 
Dave Bennett
Posts: 686
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Bits & Pieces.....

Along the street side of his garden beginning at the entrance were an assortment of berry bushes.  Raspberries, blackberries, and a berry I cannot remember the name but was similar to raspberry but had a unique flavor.  At the top were the wild blueberries transplanted from the forest.  Wow at least some of those memories are coming back....... There were dozens of areas "out in the woods" around my hometown where "huckleberries" could be found.
 
Steven Baxter
Posts: 258
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Nice story. Arthur seemed like a cool guy, a bit ahead of his time, in terms of gardening technique.
 
Dave Bennett
Posts: 686
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
oracle wrote:
Nice story. Arthur seemed like a cool guy, a bit ahead of his time, in terms of gardening technique.

I believe that he practiced the ways of his ancestors.  Most First People were horrified that the Europeans desecrated the earth with plows.  He was a very wise man that taught me much of the Herbal Medicine of the eastern woodland First People along with what I believe was what some refer to as "forest gardening."

When I was that young I did not know that my maternal great grandfather was of the Seneca Nation and farther back on my Dad's side were Mohawk.  I had blond hair and blue eyes and am very fair skinned so how was I to know? I always thought my ancestry was Scottish/Swedish.    I spoke with my older sister earlier this evening and she reminded me that he had us retell the stories of his people back to him so we could remember that history that was never written down.  Sadly I only remember bits and pieces of those days. 
 
Mekka Pakanohida
Posts: 383
Location: Zone 9 - Coastal Oregon
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
oracle wrote:
Nice story. Arthur seemed like a cool guy, a bit ahead of his time, in terms of gardening technique.


I disagree, it sounds more like he maintained the way the North East used to be, prior to Euro-centric invasion / expansion.  I cite the 1st chapter of 'Edible Food Forests, Chapter 1.'

 
Willy Kerlang
Posts: 106
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
That's very interesting, Dave.  If he was in his 80's in the 1950s then he would have been born in the 1870s, which makes this story all the more fascinating.  I am curious to know more about him.  My family is from the upstate NY area too (between the PA border and Buffalo).  If you recall any more details about this garden please share them.

Oracle, you should know that Arthur Hodges was not ahead of his time, he was practicing an ancient method, as Mekka P points out.  It is us who are behind the times... and struggling to catch up!
 
Dave Bennett
Posts: 686
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Willy_K wrote:
That's very interesting, Dave.  If he was in his 80's in the 1950s then he would have been born in the 1870s, which makes this story all the more fascinating.  I am curious to know more about him.  My family is from the upstate NY area too (between the PA border and Buffalo).  If you recall any more details about this garden please share them.

Oracle, you should know that Arthur Hodges was not ahead of his time, he was practicing an ancient method, as Mekka P points out.  It is us who are behind the times... and struggling to catch up!

I am from a very small town 50 miles east of Binghamton (Hancock).  Where?  I went to SUNY Fredonia.  I have family in Pennfield and Fairport and a sister in Erie Pa.  I might even be moving to Bath at the end of the summer.
 
Willy Kerlang
Posts: 106
1
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Dave, I grew up in Erie, though I haven't lived there for over twenty years.  When I was a boy I often wondered about the Eriez people, also called the Cat People, who were the indigenous tribe of that region and who were wiped out, not by whites but by the Iroquois nation, apparently, before whites even arrived in that area.  Some stories said that they were all killed but other say that they migrated southward.  In fact my brother ended up marrying a girl who has a full-blooded Catawba (Carolinas region) grandparent.  The Catawba believe that they came from the southern shore of Lake Erie, which if true would mean that my nephew, my brother's son, is the only member of our family to actually be "from" Erie.  But there were supposedly one or two Eriez still around at the dawn of the 20th century, and I am very curious to know if Arthur Hodges might have been one of them, or if (as is more likely, given the location of your town) he was a Seneca.
 
Dave Bennett
Posts: 686
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Willy_K wrote:
Dave, I grew up in Erie, though I haven't lived there for over twenty years.  When I was a boy I often wondered about the Eriez people, also called the Cat People, who were the indigenous tribe of that region and who were wiped out, not by whites but by the Iroquois nation, apparently, before whites even arrived in that area.  Some stories said that they were all killed but other say that they migrated southward.  In fact my brother ended up marrying a girl who has a full-blooded Catawba (Carolinas region) grandparent.  The Catawba believe that they came from the southern shore of Lake Erie, which if true would mean that my nephew, my brother's son, is the only member of our family to actually be "from" Erie.  But there were supposedly one or two Eriez still around at the dawn of the 20th century, and I am very curious to know if Arthur Hodges might have been one of them, or if (as is more likely, given the location of your town) he was a Seneca.

Susquehannock were his people. They were Algonquian.  My hometown is where the east and west branches of the Delaware River join.  I suspect that when the Senecas moved east they were among the early nations that were wiped out as were the Erie nation when they moved west. The Seneca controlled a huge territory all the way down the Allegheny as far as what is now Pittsburgh and east into the western Catskills and the Poconos across the Delaware.  Hancock was once called Chehocton which translates as "wedding of the waters."  That area was a huge community before the white settlers arrived.  Both the Delaware and Susquehanna Rivers start in that region.  You might be able to tell that I have a love of history.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4437
Location: North Central Michigan
10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
there is a history of Algonquin in MIchigan, but I'm not really familiar with it..areas named after them around the state.
 
Dave Bennett
Posts: 686
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Brenda Groth wrote:
there is a history of Algonquin in MIchigan, but I'm not really familiar with it..areas named after them around the state.

Algonquin and Algonquian are related but different people.  It is confusing because so much of the history is entirely anecdotal.
 
jacque greenleaf
pollinator
Posts: 489
Location: Burton, WA (USDA zone 8, Sunset zone 5) - old hippie heaven
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
What a wonderful story, thanks for sharing.
 
Dave Bennett
Posts: 686
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My memories of those days was sparked by Paul.  It is slowly coming back.  Hopefully I will begin to remember some specifics because looking at that garden from the "big picture" it was definitely my earliest introduction to permaculture.  I just did not know it at the time.  I was in elementary school.
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22493
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If you can sketch anything you can remember, that would be of great value!
 
Dave Bennett
Posts: 686
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I drew it out Paul.  I am now learning to use GIMP so I can post it here.  Too bad it isn't a database I know how to build those LOL.
 
Steven Baxter
Posts: 258
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Mekka Pakanohida wrote:
I disagree, it sounds more like he maintained the way the North East used to be, prior to Euro-centric invasion / expansion.  I cite the 1st chapter of 'Edible Food Forests, Chapter 1.'




ok
 
John Polk
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
289
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The tribe in general was responsible for growing food.  The Shaman was responsible for the medicinal plants in particular.  It is a pity that "we" tried to teach them, rather than learning from them.  Since they had no written language, and "we" did all we could to disband them, and force their assimilation, much of that knowledge is forever lost.  Many useful plants are no longer cultivated, due to our arrogance.
 
Dave Bennett
Posts: 686
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
John Polk wrote:
The tribe in general was responsible for growing food.  The Shaman was responsible for the medicinal plants in particular.  It is a pity that "we" tried to teach them, rather than learning from them.  Since they had no written language, and "we" did all we could to disband them, and force their assimilation, much of that knowledge is forever lost.  Many useful plants are no longer cultivated, due to our arrogance.


Hear! Hear!  Very well stated!
 
john giroux
Posts: 151
Location: Cumming, GA
7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This is the kind of post that makes me wonder just how much information or wisdom we as a society have lost due to the "modernization" of our food culivation.  Awesome post.  I grew up in binghamton, ny a block.away from the suasquannah river.  I'm sure you wish you could remember more of your conversations. 
 
Dave Bennett
Posts: 686
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
john giroux wrote:
This is the kind of post that makes me wonder just how much information or wisdom we as a society have lost due to the "modernization" of our food culivation.  Awesome post.  I grew up in binghamton, ny a block.away from the suasquannah river.  I'm sure you wish you could remember more of your conversations. 

My older sister lives on Chenango St. right across the street from the Bevier St. bridge.  I am driving up there a week from tomorrow for a week.  I am going to be in Hancock to visit some old friends.  I also plan to go to where Arthur lived and see if it stirs my memories.  I think it should help.  Then I am off the Bath NY to visit my friend who has a bunch of land most of which is perfect for putting into practice what I have been learning all of my life and where I hope to be moving soon.
 
john giroux
Posts: 151
Location: Cumming, GA
7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm sure that will stir some memories!  Fill us in and make sure to get some speedies while passing thru binghamton. And a brozzeti's pizza . Im in my own heaven thinking about my favorite foods growing up!?
 
Dave Bennett
Posts: 686
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I won't but I know what you mean about "speidies."  That marinade works really well with goat, lamb, pork and rabbit too.   I haven't had one in Binghamton in a long time but I have been making my version of that marinade since the early 70's.  I especially like using it with goat.  I rarely eat bread and only if it is "real" sourdough.  If flour isn't acidified for more than 6 hours before baking I won't eat it. 12 hours is even better.  I also have blood glucose issues so I am careful with any carb consumption.  I stopped using grains except for rye and eating that is rare.  I never liked Brozzetti's pizza.  I liked NYC style pie.  That might be called pizza but is something else.  I am not sure what but not what I call pizza. 

I can picture that garden as though it were being presented in technicolor but the specifics are still vague.  I can remember landmarks such as that huge weathered piece of bluestone sitting at the corner of the garden where the sunflowers stood so big and fat and tall.  Soon I will feel comfortable with a program I downloaded so I can draw a map.  When I am in NY I will also get to talk to my older sister and get more details because she was also a protege of Arthur's teaching.  I will do the map when I return.
 
Suzy Bean
pollinator
Posts: 940
Location: Stevensville, MT
13
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Dave shares about the "shaman's garden" in this podcast, in which he, Jocelyn, and Paul discuss Gaia's Garden, chapters forward-3: http://www.richsoil.com/permaculture/326-podcast-043-gaias-garden-chapters-forward-to-3/
 
duane hennon
gardener
Posts: 774
Location: western pennsylvania zone 5/a
45
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

John Todd who wrote the introduction can be found here:

http://www.oceanarks.org/
 
Suzy Bean
pollinator
Posts: 940
Location: Stevensville, MT
13
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Dave shares about the shaman's garden in his podcast with Paul on the "Horticulture of the United States of Pocahontas" http://www.richsoil.com/permaculture/375-podcast-056-horticulture-of-the-united-states-of-pocahontas/
 
topher alan
Posts: 4
Location: Traverse City, MI
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Just listened to the u.s.o.p. podcast and would very much like to see Dave's drawing. Hope it shows up soon. Thanks Dave and Paul for working hard to get neat stuff like that out to the masses. Anyone know of any good books (besides the obvious permaculture books), video, etc, about the type of gardens Dave is describing?
 
Thyri Gullinvargr
gardener
Posts: 398
Location: Wisconsin, USA Zone 4b-5a
86
books cat dog toxin-ectomy urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm working through the podcasts and was listening to the gaia's garden one where this post is mentioned. Did the picture of what the best recollection of the Shamen's garden looked like ever get drawn?

As a small tangent, there is a school of thought that one of the contributors to memory loss as we age is that instead of "sitting around the fire talking about the latest hunt and previous hunts to share knowledge about successes and failures" we watch TV. The idea is that in engaging in those retellings we renew our memories of our personal and tribal history, making that strand of our memory web stronger. That popped to mind with the "stirring up old memories" comment.
 
The only taste of success some people get is to take a bite out of you. Or this tiny ad:
Video of all the PDC and ATC (~177 hours) - HD instant view
https://permies.com/wiki/65386/paul-wheaton/digital-market/Video-PDC-ATC-hours-HD
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!