My guest today is Akiva Silver of Twisted Tree Farm in Spencer, New York. He joins me to talk about his life and the experiences that lead to his new book Trees of Power from Chelsea Green Publishing.
Starting with his beginning as a tracker and forager, we move into his work on getting his farm started, and some of his favorite trees. Among those, we dig in deep about chestnuts and hickories. We also touch on what we mean by the word farm. Creating his families on-farm income on three-quarters of an acre. How foraging and tending the land extends the space we might consider our farm. How we can harvest more food than we can imagine by going to those places and spaces where others might not consider looking for food.
Akiva also shares the joy of propagation and the many ways we can do this from cuttings to grafting to layering, and how we can significantly diversify our plant genetics by growing out our selection from seeds.
Whether you are growing, planting, or just enjoy trees, there is a lot to learn from this interview.
You can find Akiva, his farm, and work at twisted-tree.net and you can find his book, Trees of Power, at chelseagreen.com. You’ll find links to those and many of the resources Akiva mentioned, such as Empire Chestnut Company, in the Resources section of the show notes.
Though Akiva runs a farm that propagates thousands and thousands of trees each year, what stands out for me is the passion that comes through in his voice from his connection to Earth that he developed that through foraging and tracking. His experience shows that we can use these skills as a way to foster and deepen that connection.
I feel that doing this is essential because we need to love something to care for it. If we can have that experience at a younger age, it can lead to a lifetime of meaningful action on our part to take responsibility for our choice and the impact on Earth, other people, and our ability to return the surplus.
Foraging is one of the best skills for this that we can learn, and also share with others, especially children. Time and time again I see this in my own kids, as my daughter seeks out violets and my son the brambles, to harvest flower and berries from the yard or when we go for a hike. It instilled a curiosity to wonder what this mushroom is, and can they eat it? To borrow my camera to take a picture so we can find out more about that little bush we’ve never seen before. This started when they were pre-school age and continues now as they prepare for their pre-teen years.
Anyone can benefit from learning to forage. As a hobby, it is simple and low-cost that can reap incredible rewards and is worth taking your time to, even if it’s only for a few hours on a couple of weekends a year.
If you’d like to learn more about foraging, though I know some great foragers locally, the best person working in our broader region of the United States and writing about their experiences is Sam Thayer. As Akiva mentioned, Sam wrote the forward to Trees of Power and has appeared on The Permaculture Podcast in the past. His books are just incredible and take you through many of the different ways you can make use of a wide selection of plants, beyond only the edible parts. Even if you don’t live in areas where the particular plants he details grow, his thoughts on foraging ethics and what to consider while walking the land make each book worth much more than the cover price.
Sam Thayer is at foragersharvest.com, and you can find a link to our interview below.
Along the way on this or any of your journeys, if I can ever help, please let me know.
The Permaculture Podcast
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Dauphin, PA 17018
From here the next interview is a conversation with Tim Krahn about the essentials of Rammed Earth construction.
Until then, spend each day creating the world you want to live in by foraging, propagating trees, and taking care of Earth, your self, and each other.