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Wild Seed Project: Returning native plants to the Maine landscape

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Members-Only Tour: Garden in the Woods

Heather McCargo was inspired to start Wild Seed Project while working as the lead plant propagator at Native Plant Trust’s Garden in the Woods in the 1990s. Members are invited to join Heather on an intimate walking tour of Garden in the Woods to hear the Wild Seed Project origin story in the place where it all started.

Please note: attendees are responsible for their own transportation and meals.

In Person: Field Trip to Harvey Butler Rhododendron Sanctuary

Harvey Butler Rhododendron Sanctuary Springvale

Explore a five-acre stand of great laurel (Rhododendron maximum), the largest and northernmost stand known in the region, owned by Native Plant Trust. We will discover a multitude of other native plant gems on the rest of the 30-acre property, from yellow blue-bead lily (Clintonia borealis) to painted trillium (Trillium undulatum), hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), and northern white cedar (Thuja occidentalis). Presented in partnership with Native Plant Trust.

Learn more and register here.

Online: Monthly Member Q&A

Each month, WSP staff join members on zoom to answer questions, share advice, and talk all things native plants. Current members will receive an invitation the week prior to each event.

In Person: Wild Edibles Walk with Russ Cohen

Fort Williams Park 1000 Shore Rd, Cape Elizabeth

Southern Maine is home to over 100 species of edible wild plants, many of which are more nutritious and flavorful than their cultivated counterparts. Join Russ Cohen, wild edibles enthusiast and author of Wild Plants I Have Known…and Eaten, on a three-hour ramble through Fort Williams, to learn about over two dozen species of edible wild plants. Russ has documented over 40 wild and tasty species at Fort Williams: native species like Staghorn Sumac, Black Elderberry and Wild Bergamot; non-native weeds, like Chicory, Day Lily and Ox-eye Daisy; and invasive species, like Japanese Knotweed. Keys to the identification of each species will be provided, along with info on edible portion(s), season(s) of availability and preparation methods, as well as guidelines for safe and environmentally-responsible foraging.

Register here.

About Russ Cohen:
Until his retirement in June of 2015, Russ Cohen’s “day job” was serving as the Rivers Advocate for the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Ecological Restoration, where one of his areas of expertise was in riparian vegetation. Now Russ has more time to pursue his passionate avocation, which is connecting to nature via his taste buds, and assisting others in doing the same. Russ is now playing the role of “Johnny Appleseed” for edible native species. He has set up a small nursery (in Weston., MA) where he grows/keeps over 1,000 plants that he propagates from seed (some of which he collected himself), as well as obtains from other sources, such as the Native Plant Trust. He is then partnering with land trusts, cities and towns, schools and colleges, state and federal agencies, organic farms, tribal groups and others to plant plants from his nursery in appropriate places on their properties. Russ has initiated over two dozen such projects in the past six years.

In Person: Wild Edibles Walk with Russ Cohen

Viles Arboretum Augusta

Central Maine is home to over 80 species of edible wild plants, many of which are more nutritious and/or flavorful than their cultivated counterparts. Join Russ Cohen, wild edibles enthusiast and author of Wild Plants I Have Known…and Eaten, on a three-hour ramble through the Viles Arboretum, to learn about over two dozen species of edible wild plants. Russ has documented over 50 wild and tasty species in the Arboretum: native species like Wild Strawberry, Nannyberry and Hazelnut; non-native weeds, like Salsify, Chicory, Burdock; and invasive species, like Autumn Olive. Keys to the identification of each species will be provided, along with info on edible portion(s), season(s) of availability and preparation methods, as well as guidelines for safe and environmentally-responsible foraging.

Learn more and register with Viles Arboretum.

About Russ Cohen

Until his retirement in June of 2015, Russ Cohen’s “day job” was serving as the Rivers Advocate for the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Ecological Restoration, where one of his areas of expertise was in riparian vegetation. Now Russ has more time to pursue his passionate avocation, which is connecting to nature via his taste buds, and assisting others in doing the same. Russ is now playing the role of “Johnny Appleseed” for edible native species. He has set up a small nursery (in Weston., MA) where he grows/keeps over 1,000 plants that he propagates from seed (some of which he collected himself), as well as obtains from other sources, such as the Native Plant Trust. He is then partnering with land trusts, cities and towns, schools and colleges, state and federal agencies, organic farms, tribal groups and others to plant plants from his nursery in appropriate places on their properties. Russ has initiated over two dozen such projects in the past six years.

Understanding The Fascinating Life Cycles of Native Plants

Thomaston Public Library 60 Main Street, Thomaston

Heather McCargo will showcase the fascinating reproductive life cycles of various plants native to the northeast, and how we can change our landscaping practices to support wild plants and the pollinators and wildlife that depend on them. Heather will share  simple outdoor seed-sowing methods that anyone can do to help increase native plant populations, which is a great way to protect the genetic diversity of our native flora and produces an abundance of plants inexpensively. This event will take place at the Thomaston Public Library, and is free and open to the public.

Just for Members: Private Tour of Avena Botanicals

Avena Botanicals Herb Farm 219 Mill St, Rockport

Join WSP Founder Heather McCargo and Deb Soule, founder of Avena Botanical’s herbal apothecary in Rockport ME, for a private tour of the Avena gardens. In the late 1990’s Heather worked closely with Deb on a masterplan design for the new property Avena had purchased for the expanded herb farm on an old Maine farm surrounded by woodlands and conservation land. Deb Soule is a gifted organic grower and teacher on herbal uses of plants, many of them native species. This enchanting garden is the headquarters of Avena’s FDA-approved medicinal processing facility as well as where the location where the bulk of the herbs are lovingly grown.

Please note: attendees are responsible for their own transportation. Wild Seed Project members will receive a registration invitation for this event in late June. Not a member? Join today!

Online: Native Plant Guilds

Picking out your plants should be fun and creative, not daunting or complicated. In this webinar, we will learn how to create a native plant palette with trees and groundcovers. Using sample plant lists for various conditions, you will receive step-by-step guidance to inspire you with ideas for Fall 2022 planting. Presented in partnership with Native Plant Trust. Learn more and register here.

In Person: South Portland Yard Tour: Gregg Raymond & Jamien Jacobs

This summer, Wild Seed Project is inviting you into the yards of our members to see first-hand what biodiversity looks like at home. Our members will share stories about their personal habitat restoration journeys, and the challenges and joys they have encountered along the way as they have tackled invasive plants, experimented with leaving their leaves in place, cut back on mowing, and restored habitat with rich arrays of native plants. Tours will feature urban oases of bustling backyard meadows, neighbors who are working together to transform a suburban neighborhood, pristine coastal landscapes with formal garden plantings, and much more.

A labor of love, Gregg Raymond and Jamien Jacobs have been developing and enriching their bustling backyard meadow in South Portland for over a decade, all the while nurturing a remarkable homestead that supports a plethora of life. You’ll be inspired to see both native and non-native fruit trees, ornamental plantings near the house, screening shrubs, vegetable beds, a sunflower circle, and many pots of native seedlings for Wild Seed Project’s September plant sale.

In Person: Knight’s Pond in Summer

Knight's Pond Preserve 477 Greely Road Extension, Cumberland Center

Four Season Walks at Knight’s Pond Preserve: Summer
In this Four Season Walks series, learn how to identify many of the native plants that grow at Knight’s Pond Preserve. Anna Fialkoff, Wild Seed Project’s ecological programs manager, will share about the native wildflowers, ferns, shrubs, and trees and their habitats around the pond, forest, and utility corridor. She’ll also share other fun information on the plants’ uses as edibles, herbals and landscape plantings. Learning to recognize the native species in our midst is the first step toward becoming caring stewards of the places we live, work, and play.

This summer plant walk is the second in the series. With each new seasonal walk you will have an opportunity to see the plants through their full life cycles: from emerging, flowering, and unfurling leaves to fall foliage and fruits, and finally finishing with snow-covered trees in winter.

About Knight’s Pond Preserve:
Tucked among the rolling hills and fields of Cumberland and North Yarmouth, Knight’s Pond Preserve is a natural treasure for many surrounding communities. At approximately 334 acres in size, Knight’s Pond Preserve is a part of one of the largest blocks of undeveloped land in the area, and it contains many natural resource values important to the region, including a 46-acre great pond, forested uplands, a ridgeline with views of Casco Bay, a network of connecting trails, unique natural community types, and critical wildlife habitat. It is a keystone parcel in a multi-town recreational and conservation corridor and has been a conservation priority for the Towns of Cumberland and North Yarmouth for decades. For more information, please visit the Knight’s Pond Preserve listings on the following websites: Chebeague & Cumberland Land Trust, the Town of Cumberland, and the Royal River Conservation Trust.

Interested in hosting a Wild Seed Project event? Read about what we offer for walks, talks, and workshops here, then contact us to set something up.

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