“Seven Sisters” Book Launch

June 4, 2018 | By More


by Rosemary Tayler

Sometimes conferences can be turning points in a person’s life. This was my experience back in November, 2016, when I attended the ACORN (Atlantic Canada Organic Regional Network) conference in Moncton, New Brunswick. I was there on behalf of the Earth Haven Learning Centre to showcase planting calendars and books on organic farming and gardening. Dr. Fred Wiseman, one of the keynote speakers at that gathering, approached our booth and stated, “I’m looking for a publisher for a book on ancient seeds.” Without much thought, I quickly volunteered to help publish his book.

Since then, I have collaborated with a team of editors, artists, photographers, book designers and especially Dr. Wiseman to publish the Seven Sisters: Ancient Seeds and Food Systems of the Wabanaki People and the Chesapeake Bay Region.

This book tells the story of a remarkable seed chase that is combined with the reclamation of lost heritage of the Wabanaki people, their history and culture, and the rediscovery of their ancient agricultural technologies. The Wabanakis still reside in eastern North America in areas now called Vermont, New Hampshire, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Maine.

Trained as an archaecologist and ecologist, Dr. Wiseman focused most of his career on ancient agricultural practices and food systems of Indigenous people living in Arizona and Mexico before retiring to his hometown of Swanton, Vermont. After discovering that his father’s mother was Indigenous, he went on to research the old traditions, lifestyles and farming practices of his people in Vermont and thereby greatly assisted these tribes to gain State Recognition.

Based on these findings, he persisted in tracking down heirloom seeds that were grown in that region before the settlers arrived, and he went on to discover ancient planting methods are still in use today in Vermont and New Hampshire. What he was most astounded about was that these methods were identical to ones used by Indigenous people in Arizona and Mexico for thousands of years. These findings are the core of his newly released book, Seven Sisters.

This 280-page, full-color book also includes the cultural and calendrical aspects of ancient farming practices in Vermont, New Hampshire and Quebec.

Dr. Wiseman makes the case for a shift in cultural identity and perception of the Wabanaki people. Before the settlers arrived, these Indigenous people were skilled agrarians and maintained well-designed, highly-engineered plots where they grew many varieties of corn, beans, squash, pumpkins, sunflowers, artichokes and ground cherry, as well as tobacco, wild rice and wild leeks. Their cultural ceremonies were focused around their agricultural calendar and, while much of those ancestral experiences have been forgotten by many, this book is a vital component to acknowledge and reclaim this lost heritage.

This book is also available at Perfect Books, 258a Elgin Street and at Octopus Books, 116 Third Avenue in Ottawa, as well as at Novel Idea, 156 Princess Street in Kingston.

Rosemary Tayler is co-owner of Earth Haven Learning Centre Inc., an organization focused on education around organic and biodynamic gardening and farming practices. For more information go to www.earthhavenlearning.ca

Category: Articles, Food & Nutrition

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