BRN's Native Plant Material Program was very happy to host Carla Vargas-Frank of Yerba Nomadica for an herbalism workshop on April 6th! The workshop focused on Spring in the Sky Islands, and how plant medicine can be used to support our bodies' natural cleansing systems during this time when some themes from the seasonal transition we see in nature are mirrored in our bodies. Participants tasted different plant medicines for activating the lymphatic system, digestion, and circulation to encourage movement, clearing out and breaking up of the stagnation of Winter. We learned about some plant genera that are useful medicines during allergy season and that we have species native to the Sky Islands, including Ceanothus, Solidago, Ambrosia, Achillea, and Anemopsis. Finally, we learned about the importance of tasting bitter flavors in stimulating some of the systems that help us transition our bodies into the warmer months. Then we made some bitters of our own! BRN is really excited about this new collaboration, and the Native Plant Materials Program is looking forward to working with her to offer more herbalism workshops during the annual Field School and in September. Keep your eyes peeled for details of future offerings with BRN and Yerba Nomadica!
Borderlands Restoration Network is grateful for the generous and early backing of the Biophilia Foundation. Their ongoing support allows BRN to run our innovative programs such as the field school, as well as our community engagement programs like our monthly nature walks and our Arts & Ecology Initiative. Through the support of Biophilia, staff at BRN has been able to increase our engagement with different parts of the community to explore our unique Sky Island ecology and our various roles in our ecosystem.
Due to the early support of the Biophilia Foundation, we are preparing for our third BRN Field School with over 30 experts presenting about their ecological and cultural work in the restoration economy in the Arizona-Borderlands. Our Arts & Ecology Initiative has grown from a few classes within our Borderlands Earth Care Youth Institute and the Field School into its own curriculum with classes developed to engage local youth in learning about their role in the local ecology.
BRN is proud to have the support of the Biophilia Foundation as we work with our partners to expand a vibrant restoration economy in the Arizona – Sonora borderlands through ecological and cultural place-based learning and leadership with on the ground restoration work on habitats and watersheds.
To learn more about the Biophilia Foundation, their current projects, and more about their mission to advance biodiversity conservation, visit www.biophiliafoundation.org.
What does sustainable mean? If you look it up in the Dictionary it means maintaining a certain rate and conserving or defending an ecological balance without depletion of natural resources. When I think about sustainability I think of educators, land keepers, and a caring heart. We can create sustainable environments in our own homes, towns, cities, and schools. Innovative and courageous minds alike are changing our communities, the University of Arizona is a leading pioneer and has a massive sustainable campus. They looked to the students to create these sustainable environments and the campus is flourishing. Tucson is a place where the temperatures can easily reach 120* in the summer you might think that that production may slow down, however plants are still thriving and pumping out food on the University of Arizona’s rooftop gardens.
The University has installed a rooftop garden that sits on top of the Student Union it was designed by students for students. The garden provides fresh produce to many people on campus who may not be able to afford fresh food. Around the campus, many buildings have rock structures, water harvesters, and native plants. Compost Cats are trying to create a zero-waste environment within the University. They service the greater Tucson area at a reasonable price. These types of sustainability create a relationship with the community by getting people involved and educated.
From the Office of the Sustainability at the University of Arizona “A tier 1 research and land-grant institution, the University of Arizona addresses global challenges through research and teaching and translates research into action. UA is already using its campus as a living laboratory to pilot and implement innovative and bold solutions that advance sustainability. The Office of Sustainability furthers this progress by elevating and institutionalizing best practices in sustainable operations and development. We work across the university to build relationships and networks that foster a culture of sustainability, focusing on place-based approaches. We actively provide greater student, faculty, staff and community engagement opportunities, offering innovative and unparalleled experiences in sustainability. We collaborate closely with the Institute of the Environment and similar groups and organizations on and off campus, as well as with local government agencies, schools, community non-profits, and the private sector. We work toward ensuring that the University of Arizona continues to be a strong partner and leader in sustainability and environmental stewardship.”
The City of Tucson has also taken on major projects working toward a healthier and more sustainable economy, environment, and community. They are implementing a plan to increase tree canopy’s and create urban food forests within its neighborhoods, with temperatures increasing the need for sustainability this is industry has become very innovative. The city is expanding its solar energy and studying how the rising temperatures are affecting the economy, environment, community, and habitat. Tucson is gaining worldwide attention for its beautiful weather and one of a kind scenery, with nearly 1 million people in Tucson a big jump from 487,000 in 2000 so getting creative and listening to the community to hear what it needs is playing a big part in its success of this development and planning. The City of Tucson is implementing the following projects: climate resilience, sustainable food systems, water sustainability, urban landscape development, green infrastructure, development, and maintenance, and habitat conservation planning. The city offers a water harvesting class that looks to education to help conserve water usage. Tucson Electric Power also sells native trees at a low price and teaches the community how to plant trees so when they mature they are helping to conserve energy in homes. All of these factors play a huge role in the sustainable growth of Arizona.
Workshop: Medicine of Place for Spring in the Sky Islands
with Carla Vargas-Frank of Yerba Nomadica
Saturday, April 6, 9am-1pm
At the Borderlands Restoration Native Plant Nursery
$40, materials included
Nobody will be turned away for lack of funds
Contact email@example.com to RSVP and to inquire about details and sliding-scale options
In this class we will look specifically at what spring in the desert brings forth; the shifts, the blooms, the bursts of new energy and how those environmental changes affect our physical and energetic bodies. The practice of herbal medicine is a study of relationships between plants, people, and environments. What are our bodies telling us about our mental, emotional, physical needs? What are the plants telling us about their uses? How can the anticipation of seasonal patterns help us to keep our balance throughout the year? In this class we will approach these questions (and hopefully inspire new ones) by focusing on the following areas of exploration:
+ Medicine of Place: Sustainability and the healing potential of engaging with our environment. We will discuss and demonstrate the process and potency of flower & environmental essences.
+ Herbal Bitters & Intro to Taste as Teacher: We can read about herbal constituents in books, but we can also deduce a great number of medicinal actions and value from our highly accessible sense of taste. What are the five main flavors and what can they tell us about a plant’s therapeutic potential? *Emphasis on the seasonal relevance of bitters. We will also be making an herbal bitters in class for home use.
+ Spring Ailments: The old herbal adage goes that the medicine you need is growing around you. Don’t curse the flowers for your seasonal suffering! Often the cause is also the remedy. Herbal allies for southern Arizona allergies.
+ Native Medicinals for Home Gardens: We will highlight a few popular native plant remedies who deserve protection in the wild and a spot in your yard.
Carla Vargas-Frank is the herbalist behind Yerba Nomadica and has been in immersed in the study and practice of herbal medicine for over a decade. Born and raised in the Sonoran desert, it was the familial lineage of the use of botanical medicines from Arizona's diverse bioregions that first inspired her to pursue a greater understanding of the interaction between plants, place and people. Carla studied formally with Nicole Telkes of Wildflower School of Botanical Medicine in Austin, TX as well as Karyn Sanders and Sarah Holmes of Blue Otter School of Energetic Herbalism in Fort Jones, CA and informally with many other influential instructors, not least of all the plants themselves. Currently she is in private practice, teaches, and is a a co-founder of Nepantla Healing Arts Community in Tucson, Arizona. (www.yerbanomadica.com)
"I view my work with the herbs as an extension of my activism towards environmental, social, and health justice" -Carla Vargas-Frank
DIRECTIONS: From San Antonio Rd, take a left onto Emily Lane, keep left until you see the greenhouses. Enter the nursery at the gate with the Borderlands Restoration sign on the left.
The Wildlife Corridor is an important connecting tract of land just outside of Patagonia, Arizona. The corridor connects the Sierra San Antonio Mountain range from Mexico to the Patagonia Mountains. The wildlife trail that we worked on will connect the Arizona Trail into the Santa Rita Mountains. It is home to an impressive Agave parryi patch which we know has been a food source to the people of the desert for 9,000 years. Many birds and wildlife call this 1,300 acre of protected land home.
Every Thursday at 8:00 a.m. locals and friends meet at a trail head. Today 16 volunteer “dirt bags” met just outside of Smith Canyon in the wildlife corridor to work the trail. I asked a volunteer Joe, "how long he had been a dirt bag?", and he joked “all my life”. The name dirt bag comes from a leather or canvas bag with 2 handles used to haul dirt or tools.
We wasted no time as we trekked through the desert landscape and arrived at a hillside marked with flags that Chris Strohm, whom has 13 almost 14 years working trails for the United States Forest Service, had strategically placed using GPS to track inclines in the landscape and keep record of points of interest. Chris talked about the importance of safety and carefully guided us along the ½ mile trail that the dirt bags are currently working on. He gave us each a pick and a tool called a McLeod. The McLeod is the #1 tool used to make trails, created by a US Forest Service Ranger Malcolm McLeod, and is somewhat like a rake used to move sediment and shape trails. We got to work picking into the brown rocky soil, moving the dirt off the trail and making sure the width and slope were correct.
I left having a deep appreciation for the work that dirt bags do. The dirt bags play a important role in preserving and keeping pristine trails. This specific trail will connect to the Arizona Trail that runs the whole length of Arizona. It will have panoramic views of 4 mountain ranges, an impressive geological area, and has a vast amount of botany. The trail will showcase many of these areas where the land looks washed away uncovering large rocks and creating washes. The trail goes alongside parts of the desert that look like it is still being moved and created by the elements. Chris and the Dirt Bag crew are dedicated individuals whom are creating a wonderful place for generations to visit, enjoy and cherish for many years. I am thankful to have had the opportunity to work alongside them.
Come learn, work and play with Borderlands Restoration Network this summer in the Madrean Sky Islands!
The BRN Field School is an immersive, practical training course designed to inspire the next generation of environmental leaders in the Sky Islands. This three week course, running July 15 - August 8, 2019, focuses on the social and ecological issues of the southern Arizona and northern Mexico borderlands region. The curriculum includes a series of integrated lectures, workshops, field trips, and hands-on learning opportunities in active projects that cover a wide breadth of topics fro technical skills in plant propagation to the foundational principles of a restoration economy. The Field School is guided by a diverse set of leading experts from across the spectrum of agencies, non-profits, and partner organizations.
Field School participants will discuss the current challenges and opportunities of working in the US/Mexico borderlands, all while gaining a sense of place around the unique Madrean Archipelago ecoregion. The varied itinerary will include hands-on projects, lectures, workshops, field experiences, and more.
The BRN Field School topics include topics ranging from the Regional History of the Madrean Archipelago, Cultural/Ecological Perspectives of the US/Mexico Border, Seed Collection and Native Plant Propagation, Watershed Restoration and Impacts of the Border on Flows, Wild Edibles and Harvesting in the Sonoran Desert, Indigenous Food Production and Sovereignty, Sustainable Livelihoods and Ecological Restoration in the Borderlands, Permaculture Design in Arid Regions, Economics of Restoration and Ecosystem Services, and The Intersection of Art and Ecology in the Borderlands.
For more information or to register contact our Education Coordinator, Juliet Jivanti. Email: EducationalServices@BorderlandsRestoration.org
Phone Number: (520) 216-4148
Every Monday morning a group of plant and seed lovers gathers at the Borderlands Restoration Seed Lab in Patagonia, AZ to clean native seeds that are critical for supporting habitat restoration on public and private lands across the region. You can support this great work by volunteering your time with opportunities each week!
It all starts with a seed, and when that seed is collected, usually a lot of other plant material comes with it. We use both seed cleaning machines and low-tech methods such as sieves and fans to clean the seeds of excess debris, so they can be used in restoration projects or grown out at our nursery.
In 2019, we collected over 150 lbs of native seed, which means we need a lot of help this winter! If you'd like to find out more, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are located on the Old Main campus in Patagonia at address 1 School Street, see above for more instructions.
Here is what a few of our regular volunteers have to say about our seed cleaning workdays:
"Volunteering with Borderlands is a great way to learn all about native plants. The Borderlands staff is friendly, knowledgeable and always willing to answer questions along with providing a laid back and fun environment to work in! My favorite experience while volunteering was being in beautiful landscapes collecting seeds and then having the opportunity to learn how to clean and store the seeds for future use in rehabilitating native landscapes."
"The best part about volunteering on Monday morning in the seed lab is the people.”
We hope to see you at the seed lab soon!
Please help us extend a warm welcome to our newest staff member, Grace Fullmer. Grace joined the Borderlands Restoration Network community as an intern this past fall, and we are thrilled that she has now joined us our first Community Restoration Program Manager.
Grace is an Arizona native from Prescott. Upon her return, she moved to the Arizona-Sonora borderlands to use the skills she developed while earning her BS in Environmental Biology and an MS in Conservation Leadership at Colorado State University.
Grace is working with BRN and our partner organizations to develop opportunities for border communities to connect and restore their surrounding natural environments. When she's not busy engaging with communities, you can find her our exploring the natural environments with her friends and her dog, Coya.
To learn more about our Community Restoration Program or to get involved, contact Grace at email@example.com or sign-up to volunteer on our website.
Interested in joining the BRN team? Read through our current Job Opportunities. Currently we are hiring a Watershed Restoration Project Manager and a Development and Administrative Assistant.
Borderlands Restoration Network is grateful for the opportunity to participate in the work of building a restoration economy in the Borderlands with some amazing member organizations. This week we want to share some of the great work happening at our member organization: Cuenca Los Ojos.
Read on for an article from one of their recent newsletters. Read more about CLO and join their mailing list by visiting them at the following link:
Cuenca Los Ojos Foundation
What does a volunteer experience at CLO? Each visit is unique. This newsletter describes some of the ideas that Isaac of the Chaa ranch in Texas was exposed to as he did his volunteer work...
Passing on to the Next Generation
Good land management takes into account not only agriculture and cattle but also water and fish, soils and plants, insects and small and large mammals. All play an indispensable role in a healthy environment. CLO concentrates on water recovery because water supports life, so the first task was to study the stream, how water moves, where the force is strongest, where vegetation has been able to establish and is slowing the flood flows and where rock retention structures (gabions) will be needed.
The following day, three investigators from Sky Island Alliance Bryon, Stuart, and Tom came out to find a spring. They were equipped with nets, a water kit to test Ph, a pipe to measure flow, and a half globe. Looking into the globe one can find one’s position relative to the horizon line and in doing so determine the amount of sunlight that spot receives. Isaac went out with them to find the spring which they never found. I think it was a difficult task because, water was seeping out of the hills everywhere.
Next Isaac went to Mexico where for two weeks he learned how to plant trees to help restore native habitat and prevent erosion. Gerardo took Isaac with him to check the game cameras. Isaac said:- “ While we were out, we stopped by the pasture where the adult cows were being held. What a sight, hundreds of mature cows surrounded by tall grass, the animals themselves some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen”.
Previously Jose Manuel had taken Isaac to show him how we are doing restorative grazing. - “Properly handled and rotated the cows will eat invasive species, including buffel grass which is a big problem in Texas. Jose Manuel makes sure cows have enough protein which is easily observed in their manure. He does not worm or use pesticides on the cows. As a consequence down the line dung beetles are able to break up and incorporate manure into the soil and this action allows nutrients and bacteria to be available to plant life which creates a healthy environment”.
Finally, Joe Manuel took Isaac to see the water restoration and the gabion work that is the signature work of CLO. Isaac closes his report saying "it is really amazing to see how many local people are involved in the ranch and native restoration efforts in Mexico, a community of people young and old , what it used to be like in the US, but now we can only dream about. I am very inspired by how accessible the ranches appears to be to kids, scientists, anyone, who wants to come and learn”.
To see more of the great work happening at Cuenca Los Ojos, to make a tax-deductible donation, or to subscribe to their newsletter, visit their webpage at: https://cuencalosojos.org/
As the holidays quickly approach and we rush to find gifts for family and friends, Borderlands Restoration wants to remind you to shop local. Check out our plant sales at an upcoming Farmer's Market, purchase our seeds at the Gathering Grounds in Patagonia, or order from our seed catalog: www.borderlandsrestoration.org/online-store.html.
But if you do need to order other items online, remember you can support BRN when you shop through the Amazon Smile program.
Amazon donates to Borderlands Restoration Network whenever you shop using the following link: https://smile.amazon.com/ch/47-2581032
Forget to type in Smile.Amazon? Don't worry we do too. Try using the browser extension Smilematic which will automatically redirect you to AmazonSmile whenever you shop at Amazon!
And remember you can always donate directly to us to support the creation of a restoration economy in the Madrean Sky Islands on our Support page.
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