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  • Jennifer Jewell


FOODSCAPING - with Brie Arthur. Photo courtesy of Brie Arthur, all rights reserved.


John Forti is an award-winning heirloom specialist, garden historian, ethnobotanist, garden writer, and local foods advocate. He is executive director of Bedrock Gardens, an artist-inspired public sculpture garden and landscape in Lee, New Hampshire, and the recipient of a national 2020 Award of Excellence from National Garden Clubs.

John is involved with Slow Food USA, the national chapter of Slow Food, a global organization and international grassroots movement connecting food producers and consumers to champion local agriculture, farmers markets, and traditional, regional cuisine.

He joins Cultivating Place this week to share more about his 2021 compilation The Heirloom Gardener, Traditional Plants and Skills for the Modern World , a passionate and personal manifesto, in which John draws on his years of experience including his work on the historic Plimouth Patuxet garden restoration and the Slow Food Biodiversity Council. the essays offer gardener readers an invitation to get growing - get "agitating, planting seeds, and rebuilding systems” in order to "forge connectivity between the modern fabric of our community and the plants and historic foodways” of all of our land-based pasts - from Native American to immigrant pasts.

The Heirloom Gardener introduces and/or reminds readers of age old skills for a more directly lived life, from the distillation of floral essences to the uses of kelp to the relationship between the Algonquin culture’s word for the fruit that in English is known as strawberry, wuttahimneash (or heart berry), being related to the heart health associated with the fruit. Most importantly, however, The Heirloom Gardener, amplified by Mary Azarian’s brilliant woodcut images, encourages us to upset the apple cart of mass production and commodification, and look back to the many streams of land-based wisdom still available to us in order to find a better way forward


you might also enjoy these Best of CP programs in our archive:

Biodiversity Matters: Plantlife International

JOIN US again next week, when in honor of California Native Plant Week, the third week of April, we’re looking at an exceptionally long human and plant relationship in conversation with Deborah Small and Rose Ramirez, who, in collaboration with the California Native Plant Society, are on a mission to Sage the World – an education and advocacy campaign on behalf of the ancient Indigenous relationship with the Sacred White Sage, Salvia apiana. Listen in!


Cultivating Place is made possible in part by listeners like you and by generous support from the California Native Plant Society, on a mission to save California’s native plants and places using both head and heart. CNPS brings together science, education, conservation, and gardening to power the native plant movement. California is a biodiversity hotspot and CNPS is working to save the plants that make it so.

For more information on their programs and membership, please visit

For more information on SAGING THE WORLD:


Thinking out loud this week:

The warm garden season is upon us – and seeding is one of my favorite activities this time of year. I am watching my seeded tomatoes and zucchini, zinnias, and four native clovers….some have long emerged and are looking to be strapping young seedlings, others are taking their time to germinate – one of the most miraculous events in a plant’s life – when it germinates from its seed form.

The science of germination is a long studied and in many species still not well understood process – how and what exactly speaks in just the right way to the seed and coaxes it into breaking dormancy. I don’t care how old I am or how many seasons of seeds I have seen – the moment when I see the germinated green emerge from the soil of any seed I have sown is magical. This year, the zinnias – whose seeds remind me of the eyelashes of anime characters – emerged first in the seed tray. The magic of summer boxes full of their bright flowers alight with butterflies is next on the every-season-miracles in store.

The third week in April is the annual California Native Plant Week – celebrating the incredible diversity of flora who make this incredibly diverse physical region their home. California hosts approximately 6,500 species, subspecies, and varieties of plants that occur naturally in the state, and many of these are found nowhere else in the world. Some are adapted to unique habitats or harsh conditions, and some occur in such low numbers or have been so impacted by human influence that they are at risk of permanent extinction from the wild.

But many of you listening out there are not from California, and so here is my challenge to you this week – write or comment on Instagram or Facebook to me where you live and let me know how many native plants call the region in which you live home?

While it may be coming up California Native Plant here, the fact is – this generous planet is all of our homes – let’s celebrate them all. For anyone who writes in with where you live, the number of native plants in your state or region and maybe even add your favorite of these plant friends in this spring season, and I will shout this dedication out in the podcast the third week of April just in front of Earth Day.

How about it? Write in: cultivating OR on Instagram @cultivating_place





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PO Box 37

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