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wabanaki seeds

Wabanaki seeds

The Wabanaki Agroforest

Much of Vermont’s Northern Hardwood Forest has been converted into specially selected stands of trees that maximize the fuelwood, timber, aesthetic/recreational use, or maple sap collection. This conversion seems to have deep local roots. Professor Fred Wiseman developed the concept of a “Northern” permacultural system. This workshop will focus on the types of edible/ medicinal trees (plums, etc.), shrubs (hazelnuts, etc.), subshrubs (sweetfern, etc.), vines (grapes, etc.) and herbaceous perennials (Jerusalem artichokes, etc.) and herbs (white sage, etc.) organized by canopy stratum by light, water and nutrient requirements — to optimize production.

Such a course as this cannot be taught simply as an academic or intellectual exercise. The legacy of the continual transfer of Indigenous lands, resources, children, material goods, crops and ideas through 18th century conquest, early 20th century genocide and late 20th century appropriation of intellectual property, demands an Indigenous perspective and a balance.

Wabanaki Ethnobotany: Food and Medicine

The Abenaki Seed Catalog


Rediscovered Roots: Seed Savers and the Koasek Traditional Band of the Koas

Introduction to Indigenous ethnobotany

Ethnobotanists have studied the culture and environmental psychology that lies behind food (and medicine) choice. These researches had led to the development of some important theory regarding how, when, where and why we eat — of which nutrition forms but a small component! Prof. Wiseman will look at Indigenous food choice/cuisine and what we may consider drugs from a scientific “optimization” perspective as well as an Indigenous community-based perspective. Using examples from modern Anglo-American life, as well as Southwestern and Wabanaki cuisine and food service, he will explain the unstated rules for eating and how that reinforces individual, family and community identity.

Editor’s Note: This is one of a series of blog posts written by students in Professor Martin’s NAIS 400: Introduction to Native American and Indigenous Studies at the University of New Hampshire. To learn more about the Native American and Indigenous Studies minor, visit

Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth, NH also grows native heirloom plants that connect to Native American history, such as cranberry beans. Their herb garden is a space for sharing stories of plants origins and history (personal communication, John Forti). Their Community Garden also offers engagement with the plants from the past. Along with partnering with local farms to sustain heirloom plant varieties, Strawbery Banke started a seed bank that works with the Piscataqua Seed Project to sustain heirloom plants (personal communication, Erik Woccholz). These seeds are a free and valuable resource that can be used by the community.

Denise Pouliot (Abenaki) believes we need to get Indigenous foodways into practice by participating and utilizing resources instead of keeping knowledge and resources in museums (Pouliot 2020). She suggests finding farms that have unused land so that BIPOC communities can grow traditional gardens where Native people can share traditional knowledge. Growing Native foods in traditional ways builds stronger communities, is healthier for individuals, and helps to heal the land (Berton-Reilly 2016). Indigenous people in New Hampshire want land and food sovereignty and to have the ability to grow their traditional heirloom foods.