Opening Ceremony for the Second Annual Convergence/Permaculture Conference
Dr. Frederick Wiseman performs Opening Ceremony for the Second Annual Convergence/Permaculture Conference and shares his 40+ years of work in sustainable Indigenous agriculture
Where: The Oneka Farm, 2 Poste de Boston, Frelighsburg, QC, Canada
When, July 18-24, 2014
Prof. Wiseman, Swanton, VT author of books and scholarly articles on Indigenous Vermont geography, history and culture, and recent recipient of the "Lifetime Achievement Award" by the Abenaki Artists Association, was given the honor of opening the Second Annual Convergence/Permaculture Conference held in Frelighsburg, QC, Canada on the evening of July 18, 2014. Using centuries-old strings of wampum shell beads, he spoke and sang parts of the Wabanaki Welcome Ceremony for the Convergence attendees as the sun went down into a clear twilight.
The organizers of the Second Annual Convergence/Permaculture Conference expressed the meaning of last weekend's event thus: "The convergence is a 3 day intensive solution sharing event geared to improve and offer solutions that will enhance our quality of life, increase solidarity and our respect for the earth. Passionate permaculture experts from around the globe come to share solutions on sustainable living, renewable energies, positive economies, collaborative practices and local resilience, with the hopes that you will leave inspired, unified and full of amazing tools for change" (http://convergencepermaculture.org/en/). The weekend was a chance for Vermonters interested in green or ethical living, sustainable agriculture, new approaches to food and health, and environmentally appropriate technology to gain understanding and connections to like minded people. The convergence was also an opportunity for Vermonters to take these ideas and implement them in their own families and communities.
On Saturday's (Jul 19) "Agroecology and Permaculture" panel; Wiseman spoke to the Convergence along with permaculture specialists Geoffrey Menard, Dave Jacke, and Wen Rolland. After briefly discussing his experience with permaculture stretching back 40 years into his work on Central American agroforestry, he talked about "Decolonizing Native Crops and Cropping," focusing on how Euroamerican agricultural systems and their products have robbed indigenous people not only of their health, but also their sense of community and spirituality. Wiseman then proposed an alternative, integrated system of ancient local and regional cultivars, raised with agronomic technologies with deep time roots in this area, such as fish fertilized conical and linear mound systems. But to address the social and spiritual disintegration of local Indigenous foodways, Wiseman also put forward the idea that ancient agricultural ceremonies, such as the Wabanaki Sun, Rain and Green Corn ceremonies be reinvigorated and incorporated into the Indigenous community's calendar. In this way community well-being and connection to the earth and the sources of sustenance would be reinforced.
On the morning of Sunday, July 20, Wiseman introduced in more detail, his 24 years of research into the art, science and spirit of historical ecology and agriculture of the region's first inhabitants. He spoke not of theory, but on the specifics of how Vermont and New Hampshire Native communities are rebuilding their ancient crop "catalogue," cropping systems, ceremonies and diet; and what we can learn from these local and regional thousand year old horticultural traditions. Using slides of seeds and crops he had reintroduced to Vermont and New Hampshire's Indigenous Bands, he detailed the problems and pitfalls in researching and assembling a suite of over twenty fruits, vegetables and root crops that he believes have deep-time origins in the area. He shared specifics on how one Indigenous band in New Hampshire successfully overcame inherent problems with seed saving, cross pollination and growing out critically endangered crops, had a successful full harvest in the fall of 2013, and how the seeds are now safely in the ground and moving toward a successful second harvest this fall. Prof. Wiseman then shared a video on how agricultural ceremony, complete with music, dance and ritual, is coming back to the region after decades of neglect. Conference organizer Teprine Baldo noted afterwards that "Fred gave us all a gentle, wonderful sense of the true deepest meaning of permaculture." It was a marvelous weekend right across the Vermont border with great weather, and people from around the world who share a vision of a gentler, more sustainable footprint on the Earth.
For information on the Convergence's results, please visit the website http://convergencepermaculture.org/en/)
Or contact Teprine Baldo, # 450-298-1473.
For more information on Professor Wiseman's Convergence presentations, contact: Frederick Wiseman (802-868-3808)
Image caption: Professor Wiseman performs the Wabanaki Welcome Ceremony at the Permaculture Convergence, July 18, 2014
Copyright 2013 VERMONT ABENAKI ARTIST ASSOCIATION. All rights reserved.