As we wade into fall, the green of lush summer begins to fade around us. Now that we've passed the autumnal equinox, the days begin to withdraw their light, and a more perceptible darkening takes hold. It is a season ruled by ancestors, a time to save seed, to offer reverence for all that we receive, to acknowledge that in all life there is also death.
“Fall represents the west, our adulthood, our sunset,” says Frank Salzano, a partner at Wild Abundance, a permaculture and primitive skills school in Barnardsville, North Carolina. “In the fall we harvest, we start to settle down, we offer our gratitude, we feast with our family and community.”
Fall brings about a unique beauty of it's own, a fiery rush of color, a fierce and breathtaking explosion in the forest, a burst of life before the cold and dark of winter. Be sure to celebrate and savor the flavors of this time. Roast pumpkins and chestnuts, dip apples into honey, feast on wild persimmons and paw paws, and enjoy the last fruits of our growing season. It is a time to store and harvest, to put up all that we can for the long nights of winter ahead, to eat, drink and celebrate this fleeting and beautiful life.
Here is a guide to making the most of the season, created by Natalie Bogwlaker, the founder of Wild Abundance, with contributions from Chloe Lieberman and Zev Friedman. This guide to permaculture through all the seasons was recreated with the south eastern bioregion in mind.
Though abundance fades from the forest, be sure to harvest these special fruits of fall:
• Gather keeper apples
• Harvest wild persimmons and paw paws
• Harvest black walnuts, beaked hazelnuts, chestnuts
• Harvest autumn olives and staghorn sumac
In the Orchard:
• Gather keeper apples
• Plant and transplant berries and trees
• Collect leaves for mulch
• Store apples in wooden boxes with straw in cool place in house- not in root cellar
• Make persimmon fruit leather and freeze raw persimmon “pudding”
• Make and can/freeze autumn olive chutney
• Freeze and/or dry chestnuts
•Can chestnut “mostarda” (a kind of Italian chutney-like sauce)
• Don't forget to decorate with gourds, create an altar of dried leaves, make corn-husk dolls, roast root vegetable, and honor this bright and abundant season.
Wild Abundance will be hosting two fall workshops on hide-tanning and scared animal slaughter. To find our more about these weekend intensives in Asheville, NC go to wildabundance.net.
Aiyanna Sezak-Blatt is a writer, student of permaculture design, and is an organic topbar beekeeper in Asheville, NC. Read other articles featuring the work of Natalie Bogwalker and Wild Abundance, published by MOTHER EARTH NEWS here.
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