wren haffner

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since Feb 25, 2014
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forest garden foraging homestead
Ozark County, Missouri
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Recent posts by wren haffner

Love to hear of all of your biodiversity! I enjoy seeing all of the different pollen colors they bring in!

We don't catch catch them as in off of a branch or something - we set up swarm boxes (a la horizontalhive(dot)com) and use natural lures like propolis and lemongrass. Dr Leo has a lot of the advice and even swarm box plans on his website if anyone is interested in reading more. it's our third year successfully catching swarms and working with bioregionally adapted honeybee genetics. We love and have learned a lot from his natural beekeeping ethos. Natural selection at work creating strong colonies instead of propping them up!
7 months ago
very cool! thanks for sharing your process with us. how is it holding up after 6 months? would you change any of this technique? it's breathing well?

i also enjoyed looking at photos of your cob build on the other post! we're building a straw bale house and it's great to see other owner-builder processes :)
7 months ago
things that come to mind that would do well in a once a year flooding understory are things that don't mind having their feet wet. do you have a patch of wild ramps? if so, you could tend and expand it. other things in the allium family (wild onions, chives, leeks, garlic bulbs) may also do well.

nettles are a big one that have delicious and nutritious greens that can be cut a couple times a year for soups and tea. their leaves are some of the most densely packed nutrient rich medicines around!

meadowsweet may do well with all the moisture - a famous strewing herb, it also has various medicinal components (can take a fever down) and is absolutely beautiful. good pollinator as well. Jerusalem artichokes also do well in just about any environment and will keep you in tubers for a lifetime!
7 months ago
our paths are full of plantain and clover. we didn't have any plantain when we moved here so we went down to the road and transplanted some. plantain is such an easy plant and doesn't mind being stepped on. in shady spots it keeps its growth small and if given nice soil it will grow very large! a must have plant for bites, stings, inflammation of all kinds, bruises, burns, etc. simply chew it up and put the poultice on the spot. for stings or bites if swelling is bad, you can change out the poultice after it gets warm. will take care of the swelling and pain.

clover makes an amazing nitrogen fixing, pollinator friendly option. the blossoms can be dried and make a great addition to teas. it's one of our best blood cleansing herbs, which i think we can all benefit from. gentle in its action, its a great plant to have around and doesn't mind a little foot traffic or mowing. it's beautiful too. yarrow, dandelion, native grasses kept low also all come to mind. for our paths things have shown up in them and if they like it, they stay.
7 months ago
here in the ozarks my favorites would have to be persimmons and pawpaws! going on a creek stomping expedition to find these hillbilly bananas is a tropical adventure come fall. i look forward to it every year :)

in our 5th year living here as well we have a growing mental map of where the best fruit trees are as well. many times you'll see us pull over on the side of the road to pick up bowls of persimmons.
7 months ago

Eon MacNeill wrote:I tasted wild Aronia berries last fall and they were terrible. Reading permies I thought they would be a dream plant because of their ability to grow in wet shade, fix nitrogen, and produce edible, nutritious fruit —- but the edible fruit part is extremely questionable to me now. Are the cultivated varieties insanely superior, or are these another berry kind of like sea buckthorn that is barely palatable at the best of times?

Eon, aronia is one of my favorite plants here in our forest gardens. it's beautiful and no fuss! we don't eat the berries raw, but incorporate them into smoothies (with sweeter things already included), cook them up with a bit of sugar and make a syrup (amazing!), freeze the juice for additions into drinks all year round. I would also like to brew with them. the thing about aronias aka chokeberries is that they'll never be a blueberry or some delicious fruit that you can eat raw right off the bush. but that's not what we grow them for. any google search of their nutritional qualities will far and away make it worth your while in growing them. again, see above at how easy they are to grow! finding creative ways to add them to things - i forgot to mention aronia infused apple cider vinegar! or aronia sauce for wild meats! - is a small token of our appreciation for this easy peasy amazing native shrub!
7 months ago
we caught 5 feral honeybee swarms this year and have integrated them into our forest gardens nicely. on about 1 acre in the heart of what we're actively managing, we put them in different niches. it's cool to see how the different colonies behave in slightly different settings. 1 is in the forest at the edge of our forest gardens. 1 is in an understory of a 25 ft tall native persimmon patch (that we're grafting various persimmon varieties onto). 1 is next to our gazebo where we hang out a lot in the heat of the day so we can have great observation of that hive. they get a lot of afternoon sun so they've been bearding often. another is near a natural building we are completing so we're also near that one a lot. and finally the other is near a couple delightful heritage smelly roses. i check on that one when i go to smell my roses.

it adds another layer to the forest gardens that are really delightful. catching feral swarms also expands the bounds of our community. each hive goes by the name of where we caught it - Lick Creek for example- further integrating us into our bioregion.

we do a lot of natural building here with earthen plasters as well and we've noticed that mason bees really enjoy drilling holes in the rough plaster coats (prior to the fine finish coats). it's something we didn't expect would happen as a result of natural building. again, another interesting, if unintentional, layer of biodiversity and habitat creation.
7 months ago
i'm with tereza. i think starting off planting no fuss useful plants is a great start. for me what comes to mind is things that have done well here without much care on our part. aronia melanocarpa is an all-star. highly nutritious berries, not too much of a deer attractant, beautiful foliage (could be a landscaping plant). start with the no fuss plants/ natives that you value and move from there.
7 months ago
to answer your question how to plan what goes where i'll say don't worry about it too much. shrubs and understory plants are really flexible. if you think about the trees as the bones and plan for adequate spacing on those, the understory, shrubs, vines, etc can be cut down, moved, trimmed, pruned, etc if need be.

something i've also noticed in our 4 year old food forest is that plants will find the niches they like. we've planted dozens of indigo bush (Amorpha fruticosa) and in some spots they're leggier (more shade, poorer soil) than others, but it doesn't really matter. we chop and drop their foliage after they provide their abundant dazzling function as insectaries and trim them up how we like based on the other plants around them. vines also climb on them. furthermore, some patches of nettles, mints, medicines, etc do better than others. we have 4 different plantings of spearmint and a couple of them flourish while others are in shade and don't expand much.

i think it's cool to vary plantings and observe the habitats different things like. you can really get to know a plant when you see how it performs under all different types of conditions.
7 months ago
In the humid, blazing hot summer days of the Ozarks I feel ya on this inquiry! Hard!

I usually prefer to work in the morning/evening hours and leave the hottest parts of the day for a siesta or cool spring fed creek dip, but I have found a few things that I prefer in the hottest months..

Natural material clothing! Linen and hemp to be exact. On ebay or other thrifting sites you can buy these clothing items used/basically new at great prices. I do find the 100% hemp or linen items to be the best.

Linen has hollow fibers which means that it is light while also being strong. Linen is the strongest natural fiber so the clothing will last you a long time as well. Both of these fibers also dry really fast (after absorbing 30% of their weight in water without noticeable side effects) if you do get really sweaty. That's a must because, let's face it, we're basically drenched in these conditions with our natural AC we've got going on. I just find that the natural fibers feel great, breathe well and can't be beat! Oh and of course always wearing a sun hat, drinking cool mint/lemon balm/tulsi teas, eating cucumbers and sometimes a wet washcloth on neck or head.

Hope this helps.
7 months ago