Sally Garden of Eden is my one paid Edible Landscape gig in Rosendale. The garden is at the top of the Shawangunk Ridge with a rock face at the back of the garden. It is a joy to leave Beacon for a day and enjoy a drive through the countryside in any season. I can imagine the colonizers back in the day must have thought the lands were infinite coming from their tiny countries in comparison to Turtle Island.
I met Sally and Paul Bermanzohn during the Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign in 2013. I may have mentioned when I moved to upstate Spirit told me to find the natives. In the process, I uncovered my own Arawak/Caribe cultural heritage. The Caribes conquered the Arawak, what conflicted blood some of us have running through our veins! The Arawak are also known as Amerindians and come from South America (Guyana) where my Mum was from and the Caribe are from Dominica where my Dad is from. I produced my first native American event in 2010 at the the theater at University Settlement - a two day Eco-Fest featuring Evan Pritchard, Tony Moonhawk, Pete Seeger and Grandmother Flor de Mayo of the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers (www.grandmotherscouncil.org). It was the beginning of this spirited life I have had the privilege of living.
Spirit runs through all things, people, animals, insects, rocks, earth, water, fire and air. It is what connects us and makes us one. Man has constantly sought to divide us over petty differences like gender, class, race and religion, but Spirit constantly returns us to ourselves . Community is the one human experience that can never be broken and it's the one thing we can rely on through dark days like today. Hold one another and share love and connection.
The Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign (www.honorthetworow.org) marked the 400th anniversary of the original treaty signed between the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois Confederacy) and the Dutch. The Haudenosaunee comprise the Five Nations Mohawk, Onondaga, Oneida, Cayuga and Seneca Peoples, the First Peoples. The Haudenosaunee are the world's oldest democracy and the American Constitution is based off of their principles. The Two Row Wampum is a belt that symbolizes the treaty. It has two colors of beads and means that the two peoples will travel this life together parallel, without interfering with one another "as long as the grass is green, the rivers flow downhill and as long as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west." The Campaign was a two week canoe trip across the Mohawk River and down the Hudson to the United Nations International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples. Kingston, Poughkeepsie and Beacon held the largest festivals welcoming the rowers for overnight stays. I was coordinator for the Beacon Festival. We organised the festival, but for me, I had no idea how it would feel to participate. We had performances and talks and vendors all day, but when the horses arrived from the Dakotas and the rowers arrived on the river, I was so lifted! Spirit is magnificent! It is now life before Two Row and life after Two Row. Unfortunately, America walked out of the United Nations International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples.
A month later wearing my Two Row t-shirt, I attended the Ramapaugh Pow Wow and met Sally who also had on her t-shirt and we shared our joyful stories and experiences. Sally organized the Kingston festival and even paddled a section of the canoe trip. I wanted to paddle to Cold Spring, but I did end driving two African Drummers down and helped pull the canoes in the day after Beacon. The African Drummers were the only music in Cold Spring.
Sally and Paul Bermanzohn are long time activists now in their seventies who were victims of the Greensboro Massacre in Greensboro, NC in 1979. They lost friends that day and Paul was shot in the head and handicapped. It was a protest against the Ku Klux Klan and the local police delayed their response and white protestors showed up with a trunk full of guns and opened fire on the protestors. Sally and Paul travel annually to events held to commemorate the event. Sally has written a book about the incident, Through Survivor's Eyes: From the Sixties to the Greensboro Massacre. the work continues.
Sally's garden is a forest of White Pine, so my Plant Family (Stinging Nettle, Comfrey, Wild Bergamot, Sunroot, Burdock, Valerian) are not thriving in the shade. I did find an article from 2002 this Winter that is all about forest dwellers. I'm considering Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis, Papaveraceae, Perennial, Turtle Island) and Elecampane (Inula helenium, Asteraceae, Perennial, Europe), both shade loving plants. Sally already has Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum, Labiatae, Perennial, Turtle Island) and I actually transplant out of her garden into mine.
I have compost piles in all my gardens, but Sally was the first compost that I made for someone else. I have been Compost Queen at the Beacon Sloop Club Strawberry, Corn and Pumpkin festivals since 2007, but it is a different story when one explains the process to a client and it works. We have two bins, one for the current season's ingredients of weeds, food scraps and chicken hay and come Autumn we layer the first bin into the second bin adding leaves. To my surprise it worked like a charm and we have been adding her compost back to her four raised beds ever since. This season is the first season we have got enough for all four bins. Such a rewarding exercise!
Sally works with me so we start each garden time with a walk through to see how our plantings are doing. She has a beautiful ornamental garden already in place and my job is to add medicinal plants. She has three sections of gardens around the house and they are filled with Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectabilis, Papaveraceae, Turtle Island), Fern, Matteucia sp., Perennial, Worldwide), Vinca, (Vinca minor, Apocynaceae, Perennial, Africa, Asia, Europe), Foxglove (Digitalis sp., Plantaginaceae, Africa, Asia, Europe) and Hellebore (Helleborus foetidus, Ranunculaceae, Perennial, Europe. Her family has always had gardens and Sally keeps the family tradition going.