The last two years have seemed to shift just about everyone’s perception of the world that we live in. From a global pandemic to worldwide wars that continue to rage, it’s no surprise that life just isn’t that same as it used to be. The way we are experiencing the world today could change at the drop of a hat tomorrow, maybe a notion that prior to 2020 had been neglected. Due to factors entirely out of our control, we are being forced to adapt to change at a relatively fast rate in order to keep up with the ever-changing world around us. While for many this brings about a spirit of fear, for some it is a reminder of what should have been remembered a long time ago. As our civilization advances in new technology, infrastructure, and developments, there are seemingly outdated skills that could prove to be more beneficial now than ever before. Take for example, farming and gardening.
“Food price increases are expected to be above the increases observed in 2020 and 2021. In 2022, food-at-home prices are predicted to increase between 7.0 and 8.0 percent, and food-away-from-home prices are predicted to increase between 6.0 and 7.0 percent. Price increases for food away from home are expected to exceed historical averages and the inflation rate in 2021.”According to U.S. Department of Agriculture,
With food prices already expected to exceed historical averages, it might be in our best interest to take a look at a time when personal farming was more of a necessity than a pleasurable pastime.
The Victory Garden movement during the World Wars came with a sense of urgency surrounding the nation’s damaged food supply during times of war. The U.S. Department of Agriculture. Miscellaneous Publication: Number 483 (1943) reads, “There is now a real need for civilians to relieve the burden on commercial food sources, transportation, and preservation by growing all food that is practical at home and preserving, storing, and using it over as much of the year as possible,” with similar messages starting as early as the first World War. This initiative proved so productive that by May of 1943, victory gardens supplied 40 percent of the produce in America. Apart from the food supply aspect, victory gardens were a source of encouragement and boosted community reliance on herbs and plants.
While circumstances are much different than those during the world wars, the properties of those Victory Gardens offer a mirror to today’s return to a more self-sustaining lifestyle.
For westside locals Daniel Cherniske and Marya Casey, these numbers pose no problem to their everyday lives, but instead encourage the amazing opportunity to reclaim integral skills that have become lost in recent years and just in time for peak planting season in Buffalo.
With backgrounds in a variety of topics such as herbalism, permaculture education, geopolitics, and homesteading techniques these partners are seizing this opportunity in history to encourage our community to reconnect with the power of plants. With the opening of their new apothecary shop, The Mother Tree Apothecary, located right in the Five Points area, this duo is taking plant power to a whole new level that will hopefully help reshape the future of our community.
“I think first and foremost, because a life lived without participation in the practices and ways that keep us alive, whether that’s growing your own food or having skills that you are contributing to the community, without that life is just really boring. I think starting there, it’s so valuable for us to relearn and remember how to take care of one another and how to be resilient as a community, because that just creates a far more meaningful life,” shares Cherniske.
Through working with herbs for over 10 years as an herbalist, Casey has seen just how transformative plants can be in her own life and those around her. By offering the shop as also a community space for a variety of different classes, she hopes that people will leave feeling more educated and also more supported through their journey with plants.
“A big piece of this is going to be an intimate gathering space for education. One thing is monthly offering of plant communion circles where I want people to come in and get to know the plants or specific plant through their body and their own experience rather than only through the mind and intellect. So a true embodied somatic exploration with different tinctures and herbs.”
These two offer resources to our community that have for so long been missing. With a plethora of knowledge surrounding important topics, and the capacity to create space for our community to come together to harvest the power of the natural world around us, there is a newfound call to action that surrounds the hope the future holds,
“Everything is becoming lower quality while simultaneously becoming more expensive due to the failure of larger economic systems to be in any way sustainable. So, instead of being reliant upon a global agricultural system that’s falling apart and also destroying our bodies, how can we reclaim these skills that have been lost for really only a couple generations?” urges Cherniske.
By restoring our relationship with nature and the gifts given to us by Mother Earth, a new kind of Victory Garden can begin to flourish- one that promotes a lifestyle full of sustainability (in all senses of the word) and communities that focus on increased immunity (after all, we are still under the pressing thumb of a global pandemic).
To learn more about offerings at the Mother Tree Apothecary and to learn how to get involved in this growing community follow along on instagram @themothertreeapothecary