“Mystic Forest: American Indian Ancient Forest Preserve”, is an ongoing project via kickstarter and additional foundation based fundraising to purchase ancestral lands to expand an existing territory of old growth forest in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia currently protected by families of tribal people. We collect acorns, de-shell them, leach the tanins in a pure stream on-site, dry in the sun in the field there, and then mash with a grinding stone into a nutritious flour for making a traditional dough. Additionally, we collect Black Walnuts, Butternuts, Hickory Nuts, and a plethora of berries: Blackberry, raspberry, wineberry, huckleberry, wild strawberry, and winterberry. The lands we are seeking to regain are the last remnants of original forest in the area. Fortunately, although logging has removed the original forest beyond these borders, there is no development for miles and the forests have regrown.
What makes the lands that we hold and the lands that we seek, so special is that they have not been disturbed by human exploitation. The interaction with these forests has been symbiotic for eons and we seek to continue it.
There are 40 acres of old growth forest currently protected in-trust and the remaining 10-20 acres that we seek would put us in border with National Forest land, creating a preserve for a way of life. These border lands we see to add to the trust are all the more important because they contain the source waters for our mineral spring, which we use for drinking and food preparation.
This forest is not only home to black bear, whitetail deer, raccoons, opossums, red foxes, grey squirrel, flocks of red-winged black birds, a stopover point for monarch butterflies and migratory birds, it is also the source of an entire cuisine and way of life. My body is a sum of the parts of that land and the food I’ve satiated myself with, borrowed from the bounty of that land.
As we ask from that land, so we give to that land. There are ancient terrace complexes there, the grave of my fifth great grandmother, relics of a long history of using the place as a stronghold and respecting it as home.
We have 15 days to go in our kickstarter campaign to purchase 1 acre of additional land, and we have been told by a local foundation that if we meet our goal, they will match it dollar for dollar. Two more acres protected, two more acres of habitat… for us.