Braiding Sweetgrass: Part 5 Jul 10, 2020

After reading over half of the Braiding Sweetgrass book, the theme of gifts and reciprocity has continued to reappear and give us the opportunity to reflect on how we show our gratitude to the world around us. Too often, I find myself taking my position in life for granted and see where I have not given as much as I receive. Every page I turn is another reminder to reflect on the wonderful things that surround me in Enderly Park.

As I read through the Honorable Harvest, I laugh about the conversations that I will have with my tomatoes or peppers. At first, I question how these conversations will actually help the plants, but then I recognize that refocusing how I interact with the plants pushes me to recognize how the plant expresses its need already. By being intentional in examining my plants, I can see when the plant is asking for more or less water, shade, minerals, and even pest control. The plants around us have always reflected their needs, it just takes a companion willing to pay attention to the signs. From now on, I will be open to hearing what the world around me is asking for and willing to sing a song to help it grow.

One of my favorite things in a garden is discovering a “volunteer” plant that has replanted from previous seasons and invited new fruit to ripen. I know that every time we find a tomato plant growing in a corner we did not intend or a peach tree sprouted beneath the rest, it is because plants have a way of giving a never ending gift if we allow it to do so. When we only take what we need from the world we live in, we give the opportunity for the circle of life to keep moving forwards. We give more neighbors the opportunity to taste the sweet fruit from our blueberry bushes and fig trees. We live into an abundant mindset and know that when we only take what we need, we will always be fed. My heart is filled with the memories of neighbors reminding me of these values. I remember the inspiration I felt when a neighbor refused extra food for his grandkids because he knew the value in only taking what he needed. He expressed how he cared more about the other neighbors being fed instead of taking too much for his family. Initially I was confused by this mindset, but now I see his decision was one made from love and compassion of his neighbors. Simple lessons from neighbors come at the most unexpected of times but they are the ones that I will carry with me forever.

"Know the ways of the ones who take care of you, so that you may take care of them.

introduce yourself. Be accountable as the one who comes asking for life.

Ask permission before taking. Abide by the answer.

Never take the first. Never take the last.

Take only what you need.

Take only which is given.

Never take more than half. Leave some for others.

Harvest in a way that minimizes harm.

Use it respectfully. Never waste what you have taken.


Give thanks for what you have been given.

Give a gift, in reciprocity for what you have taken.

Sustain the ones who sustain you and the earth will last forever.(pg183)"

Written by Marissa Bucklew, QC Family Tree Sustainability Intern 2019-2020. Marissa is an intern from the NBA XPLOR program which invites young adults to spend a year with non profit organizations around the nation. This year, she has worked closely with the neighbors to build relationships to deepen our connection to this community as well as spread the stories of neighbors. She also works to maintain the physical space of QC Family Tree, including our gardens and resident spaces.

Kimmerer, Robin Wall. Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants. Minneapolis, MN: Milkweed Editions, 2013.