Hello again from @SenorCoconut,
Today, we’re going to ask a few questions to reflect the ethics and ideologies of one vendor at HSCO. Crescendo Of Peace. (@creascendoofpeace on steemit)!
Building a community is about clear communication and the willingness to support one another. As Homesteaders Co-op grows, we must keep in mind that the complexity and diversity of its moving parts may also expand, so here we are helping this free market stay running smooth together.
We found it essential for the good of everyone to highlight the vendors of the HSCO market place. Wouldn’t be nice to know the individuals and families offering their goods and services a little more?
Every week vendors are featured on the web site. As a community, we thought that every week, we should feature these vendors here on the Steem blockchain (@HomesteadersCoop) to give everyone that much more exposure.
It takes a village to raise a child, because when people help eachother life is easier for everyone involved.
Without further ado, here are a few question I’ve conjured up… let’s meet Crescendo Of Peace:
SenorCoconut: In the description of your online shop with HSCO, you’ve explain how your Art, Food and Medicine products are made, can you tell us about your thinking process and what kind of intentions you put into your creations? Feel free to talk about any other things you will be selling in the near future.
Crescendo of Peace: For the most part, as odd as it may sound, I like to let the work define itself. What I mean by that is that I don’t always plan out my creations, but allow my intuition, or my muse if you will, to choose the direction I take, and the materials or ingredients I use.
This has served me well throughout my life, in cooking as well as making art, and a lot of things I’ve learned to do simply by trying to see if they would work. And, more often than not, they have, though there have also been a share of projects I’ve had to seriously tweak before they came out as I wanted. It’s an evolutionary process, as is life.
One example is my shagbark hickory syrup. When our forester first mentioned it to me, I had never heard of it, and it took some searching online to find a recipe, which I then used as my starting point.
Over the years, however, I’ve gone with my intuition and altered the original recipe substantially, so that the syrup I make today is nothing like the first batches I made, and it keeps getting better and better. And it bears little resemblance to the commercial hickory syrups with which I am familiar. It is much deeper, richer, and more complex.
As far as intentions are concerned, my intentions in art, cooking, natural medicine, writing, and pretty much everything else are similar: I endeavor at all times, and in all ways, to be a part of the solution, rather than a part of the problem. I don’t always succeed, as I’m a fallible human, but I succeed a lot more often than I would if I didn’t try.
Another intention that goes along with that is to create in such a way that is not harmful to the environment. Again using hickory syrup as an example, I collect all the bark here on my place, so I know for a fact that nothing has been sprayed on or near these trees for at least nine years.
I prefer collecting fallen bark, which is usually plentiful after a storm or high winds, and when I do collect directly from the tree, I collect only bark that has naturally separated from the trunk, and is ready to come off on its own. In that way I am not harming the mother tree, nor opening wounds that might lead to infection or infestation, thus shortening its’ natural lifespan.
Similarly, when collecting herbs, vegetables or fruit, I take care not to harm the plant in the process, to take only what I need, and if needed, to do any pruning that the plant needs to grow better.
I go by the rule taught to me by my grandmother, when collecting from plants in the wild; always leave some for the birds and animals, some for the next forager, and some for the plant to remain healthy and strong. Unless there is a life or death emergency, never take it all, as that is disrespectful to the plant, to the othrcreatures in its environment, and to nature.
SenorCoconut: This next one may go hand in hand with “intentions” but I would love to hear about the desired outcome you’re looking for in selling handmade or hand-picked product. How are you looking to connect with your customer base?
Crescendo of Peace: I look to connect with people human to human, soul to soul. What else is there?
My overall desire is that people learn more about plants and grow them, that they learn more about health in order to grow healthier themselves, and that they expose themselves to more art, literature and music to feed their souls and become happier.
And time in nature is always time well spent.
When I owned my art and framing studio in Florida, several of my customers liked to just come hang out, as they liked my vibes and the vibes of my place, which was filled not only with art, but also with plants and animals.
I’m basically a friendly person, I like people and generally steer clear of drama, so I’ve been called a calming influence, and some came by just to chill. My personality type is that of a peacemaker, and has been since childhood. Ideally my customers will become friends over time.
Additionally, I consider myself to be accidentally in the position of educator, just because I’m interested in a lot of different things, and I’ve amassed a fair amount of knowledge over the years. I was also blessed with parents who nurtured and encourged that part of me, so I try to do that for others, where I am able, and to give them any information I think is important for them to know about what they are purchasing in that moment.
As an example, if there is a story behind how I got started making a particular item, I often share that, if I think it will interest them. If the materials or ingredients are rare or uncommon, I share that information, and often a lively conversation begins from there.
Or, more obviously, if they are purchasing heirloom seeds or a kombucha kit, I give the needed instructions for them to succeed with them the first time, and every time.
SenorCoconut: Looking through your blog on steemit and your shop description on HSCO, you strike me as someone who really loves life, but also someone who is well aware of the damage we (humans) are creating to our planet. I think we can agree that through all that pollution and destruction, we’ve put ourselves on a dangerous path that could lead to human extinction if we don’t change our ways. Without getting political, can you tell us your stance on “carbon footprint”? And if you don’t mind talking about what you do to help reduce human impact.
Crescendo of Peace: I went to college to become a marine biologist, and part of why I did not continue on that path is that, as an empath, what I was seeing happen to my beloved marine environment and her inhabitants was breaking my heart. Most of my charitable giving goes to environmental causes, and has since I was a teen.
I grew up in coastal California, and spent much of my adult life in Tampa Bay, Florida, both of which are squarely on the environmental front lines. And in both states, despite glib talk by those in power, building permits are still being granted for sites with delicate and irreplaceable habitats, against scientific recommendations and plain common sense. Housing developments are being built in the Everglades, which is a travesty, and more and more water-hungry lawns keep popping up all over the desert Southwest.
Individual humans can be incredibly intelligent. Governments, large and small, are generally not.
As for reducing my own human impact, despite loving children, I chose against having children of my own. It seemed the kindest course of action overall, to them, and to the planet. I am sorry for depriving my parents of grandchildren.
So my children have fur, feathers, fins and scales, and lots and lots of needles and leaves. I’ve planted well over a hundred fruit and nut trees and bushes, so far, along with numerous perennial and self-seeding herbs and vegetables, and I’m getting ready to start several patches of culinary and medicinal mushrooms. And I’m just getting started.
Increasing the diversity on our place has always been one of my primary goals, as the more diverse the species being grown, the less likely that there will ever be a catastrophic crop failure . . . in any climactic situation, something is bound to do well, or at least adequately.
The massive monocropping that’s been going on for the past hundred years or so is nothing more or less than idiocy in action, even without the toxic GE crops and chemicals. Any decent gardener knows that if you grow a whole bunch of any one thing, without a break, you’re setting yourself up for a constant battle against the pests that like that crop, while providing zero habitat for beneficial insects and birds that would prey on those pests and keep them in check.
In Florida, for example, over sixty precent of the agricultural land was planted in citrus, with predictable results. Yes, there is still a lot of citrus in Florida, though nowhere near as much as there once was. Most of the large groves are being hit with citrus greening, which is a fungal disease that is threatening the entire industry, which took hold because there were so very many susceptible trees being grown in close quarters.
But I saw a video a few days ago by a man who was filming in Brooksville, Florida, about an hour north of Tampa, showing dozens and dozens of vibrant, healthy citrus trees, mostly tangerines, that were completely unaffected by citrus greening.
They were growing wild. These were bird-planted trees, growing as understory in the dappled shade beneath much-larger oaks, with lots of other species all around, and they were thriving on neglect, with absolutely no input from humans of any kind.
So. Acre after acre of citrus trees are being chopped down and bulldozed due to citrus greening, when the real answer isn’t monocropping, chemical and antifungal sprays, but intercropping with lots of other species, allowing nature to be nature, and allowing life in all her glorious abundance to thrive. And the cirtus trees can thrive along with them.
This is the beauty of permaculture and forest farming.
Earth and all of nature has amazing and humbling regenerative abilities. We fallible humans simply need to get the heck out of the way and allow it to take place. Now.
SenorCoconut: You mentioned that you are regenerating the native plant population and restoring your woods. Could you please go into details on how your products reflect the overall health and balance you wish the environment to have?
Crescendo of Peace: Among the products I will ultimately have in my store are living plants and seeds, fresh and dried herbs, herbal tea blends, tinctures and extracts, and more, none of which would be possible without a healthy and balanced environment in place.
My little corner of the southern Appalachians is second growth forest, as the old growth forest was chestnut-oak-hickory, which was changed forever when the American chestnut was wiped out by chestnut blight, a fungal disease introduced by planting ornamental chestnut trees from China and Japan.
Yet another example of idiocy in action: we wiped out the foundation tree of the Appalachian forests, as literally one in every four trees was an Americn chestnut; along with generations, communities and entire lifestyles, all for the love of a foreign ornamental chestnut from China. That worked out well.
The loss of the American chestnut may have also been the final nail that sealed the fate of the passenger pigeon, as chestnuts constituted the majority of their diet. Wholesale and unrestricted hunting didn’t help either.
So one of the goals closest to my heart is to bring back the American chestnut on my place, to bring back the chinkapin and hazelnut, also affected by introduced blight, to repopulate the understory plants, herbs and fungi that were here prior to European settlement, and to establish my place as a living seed bank for the Calfkiller River ecosystem, and the larger Caney Fork floodplain into which it drains.
Thus far I’ve planted three Dunstan chestnut trees near the road, as Dunstan is a hybrid of roughly 7/8 American and 1/8 Chinese chestnut, reputed to be immune to the blight. One of them died back almost immediately after leafing out the first spring, and never resprouted. The second did fine that year, but died back the following year, but did resprout from the roots. The third has never died back.
Oddly, though all three trees had remnants of blossoms when I bought them, none have bloomed here in the three years since planting. They are just now beginning to leaf out.
As an experiment, and in hopes that it may help to confer some immunity to the blight, which may well be why these trees are failing to thrive, I will be planting horseradish around their base, as horseradish is antimicrobial, antibacterial and antifungal. I have two varieties of horseradish, and will be planting three of one variety around chestnut two, and three of the second variety around chestnut three. Wish me luck.
In the meantime, I’ve ordered 24 germinated Dunstan chestnut seeds, along with five seedling American hazelnut trees, which tyically grew in close proximity to the native chestnuts. I am hoping that we can introduce these chestnuts at the edges of our woods, in areas where we take out trash trees, and along the river, which if successful will provide a lot of food for wildlife, as well as us, and be a step toward reclaiming our woods for native species.
A further goal is to establish a series of medicinal gardens devoted to worldwide systems of care, such as an Ayurvedic garden, a Traditonal Chinese Medicine garden, a Native American medicine wheel garden, and so on, with the most important food plants as part of each medicinal garden. These will be situated in what is currently our front pasture area, near the road.
I would ultimately like to reclaim some additional land that has been clear cut, strip mined or otherwise environmentally trashed, and bring it back into productivity with an intelligent succession of native plants, with the ultimate goal of establishing highly productive mixed chestnut woods that will act as additional living seed banks for the surrounding areas.
This could be a real and highly effective way of ameliorating the horrific practice of so-called mountain top removal, which has destroyed so many previously pristine areas in the Appalachians.
And, ultimately, I plan to record and document everythign I’m doing as it is being done, to discuss what is working well and what needs to change, and to leave guidelines for others who follow to be able to follow in our path, and to create similar systems wherever they find themselves.
The final goal is to leave a charitabe foundation in the hands of a capable board willing to continue the work long after I am gone.
SenorCoconut: It seems you have chosen a more “earth friendly” path than most, and I’m sure it shows on your mini farm, I would like to know how you encourage and influence your neighbors to lead a more environmentally responsible life?
Crescendo of Peace: I live in a farming community, and most of my neighbors are fairly responsible already from an environmental standpoint, as they live close to the land.
That said, I readily share what I know, the unusual plants and techniques in which I think they may have an interest, and they already know that I garden organically, that I recycle like a madwoman, and that we generate very little actual garbage as compared with most households.
I have tried to educate a few on the dangers of Round-up and glyphosate, with mixed results, as not everyone is open to new information. So I do what I can, but I don’t shove my own beliefs down anyone’s throat, as all that does is alienate the very people with whom I am trying to build a cooperative alliance.
I do do my best to share those practices not requiring chemicals as an alternative to the Round-up. Hopefully some listen.
I’m a big believer in sharing and giving to others, and most of my immediate neighbors have received gifts from me over the years ranging from wine jelly to hickory syrup, hot soup, fresh eggs, heirloom seeds, and even seedling apple trees. And several neighbors have returned the favor, including one neighbor who has given me several plants I absolutely love, including heirloom hydrangeas and a couple of gorgeous blooming cacti.
I had the great good fortune to buy land surrounded by great neighbors, and I do my best to be a good neighbor in return, whether that takes the form of watching someone’s animals when they are away, helping them learn how to better use their computer, or simply bringing my dog inside when he starts barking at night.
And my neighbors have let me know that they have my back, keeping an eye on my place when I’m away, or when they know I am here alone, and they have helped to make me feel very welcome and at home.
Bottom line, being a good citizen really does come down to the Golden Rule, treating others as we want to be treated ourselves, and that’s how I try to live my life, albeit imperfectly. And it’s a great life overall.
I want to thank you for taking precious time out of your day to answer these questions, and what an inspiration you are! I am truly impressed with your answers, I have learned quite a few things…for example shagbark hickory sirop and the dunstan chestnut tree, a hybrid reputed to be immune to the blight, are things I had never heard of. You are a wealth of knowledge!
I wish everyone could take another look at the golden rule and perhaps apply it to their way of life.
Once again, thank you @crescendoofpeace for letting us have a peak into your life, it was a pleasure to read 😁 and good luck with all your projects!
For those of you who would like to look at her shop at HSCO here a quick link: Crescendo Of Peace!
Thank you so much for reading and stay tuned for next week’s featured vendor… Same time, same place!