On a ridge three miles south of Lake Erie in the quiet city of Conneaut, Ohio, there is a small sustenance farm, BLD farm, where seeds are being sowed. They aren’t just the seeds one would expect. Yes, there are carrots, tomatoes, and cabbage. But we’ve also planted less common things like high bush cranberries, northern pecans, and oaks that produce low acid acorns.
Stranger still, you will find a three-petaled flower deep in the woods that wraps its seeds in what looks like a pat of butter. Ants carry these seeds, three times their size, and store them in their underground tunnels as food for the colony and its queen. Thus the flowers spread slowly through the woods, unlike the mayapples and partridge berry dispersed by deer and birds.
That flower is called Trillium. There are two species growing here, the common white trillium, some which may be as old as 50 years, and the rarer red trillium that was given as a gift from a friend on the Medicine Council for the Lenape Nation.
Trilliums are at-risk of becoming endangered. As we work on this land, helping to restore the forests and growing gardens, we realize that the relationship between the trilliums and the ants is like the dream we are weaving of a place where people can come to find creation and creativity in the retreat from the buzz and the press of the cities. People will come here and carry away their own precious seeds and perhaps store them until the time comes for them to germinate and bloom into new projects and ideas.
The place is called the Trillium Center. The Trillium Center is an educational endeavor to improve community health and resilience through preventive medicine, education, wilderness skills, folk traditions, and more sustainable approaches to living. A place where people can learn folk arts through experiential skill building projects and workshops. The workshops will allow participants to create in a collaborative environment so they can apply these skills in their own communities.
We believe that health and healing are intrinsically connected to artistic expression and hope to encourage people to integrate functional art and folk traditions into their healing process.
The prevention of disease and injury are key to community health and resilience. We hold workshops and trainings on herbalism, preventive medicine and public health, healing with foods and herbs, first aid, disaster preparedness, and other workshops.
We also have volunteer opportunities to practice experimental building technologies such as working with locally sourced wood and cob, salvaged and wild materials; building rocket stoves; animal husbandry; sustenance farming; wild crafting foods and medicine; bee keeping; and whatever else we are working on.
As we grow we expect to have workshops on plant-based dyes, carpentry, creative gardening and cooking, outdoor skills such as building shelters and starting friction fires, wildcrafting plants to make cordage and baskets, making snowshoes, and other folk and healing arts. Please visit our Calendar page to see our current offerings. If you have these skills and live in the region, please contact us.
We started a botanical sanctuary in 2009 in NE Ohio where students and apprentices learn and practice wildcrafting and medicine making. The medicine gardens preserve native medicinal plants and allow participants to cultivate Earth-based approaches to health, wellness, and community resilience.
We are building infrastructure at BLD farm to make a center where people can learn folk arts through experiential skill building projects and workshops. We built a small classroom, with a little help from our friends, called the Seed House. Thee Seed House is a hoop house and education project to teach people how to grow food, herbs, and most important, how to care for plants that are on the United Plant Savers at-risk list. Check the Calendar for upcoming work parties and next year’s programs.
Leah Wolfe and Charles Schiavone
BLD farm, NE Ohio
Please contact us for more information.