Rising Fields is a public art project by Leah Gauthier dedicated to the revival of rare and endangered herb and berry plants
including the Marshall Strawberry. She is currently raising funds to purchase a 3-5 acre plot of land in Mid-Coast Maine to serve as a permanent refuge for these plants.
Since 2006 Leah has been lovingly working to help restore the Marshall Strawberry, once deemed by James Beard, the father of American gastronomy, as the tastiest berry ever grown. It was on Slow Food's most endangered foods list just 6 short years ago. Starting with a single runner from what was then the last 3 living Marshall plants housed at the USDA Germplasm Reposity in Corvaliis Oregon, she now has a base crop of 100 plants. From those plants, over 400 have been adopted out across the U.S. To read more about the Marshall Strawberry and join in the effort to revive this American treasure by adopting one of your very own click here. Now Leah wants to differsify her efforts to include other rare berries and endangered medicinal/dye plants.
Why should we care about reviving endangered plants? Diversity ensures a healthy food and medicine supply. The Irish potato famine happened in good part because everyone grew the same exact variety of potato. When disease hit, the whole crop was wiped out and millions starved. This would not have happened if many different varieties were cultivated simultaneously. Today because huge industrial farms plant a single crop over millions of acres the same danger exists, and on a much larger scale. Also because of our dependence on only a handful of plants, other varieties that are ignored can die out. In the 20th century alone, we lost 70% of our agricultural heritage. Medicinal and dye plants are in need of stewardship too. Many being recklessly overharvested and/or losing their natural habitats.
The recent wave of small scale organic farms are a hopeful sign things are changing. But these farmers also have to
earn a living, and lower producing plants like the Marshall and some of the other plants we will be caring for will most likely not stand a chance anytime soon. But a safe home at Rising Fields will ensure these plants will still be around for future generations to enjoy and help ensure a healthy food supply for all.
Lend A Hand!
Right now the project needs a permanent space to be. You can help by making a donation to Rising Fields. Funding goal for phase 1 is $30,000 to purchase suitable land. Please note Rising Fields is not yet an official non-profit, so your contribution will not be tax deductible at this time. You can also join the Marshall Strawberry revivial movement by adopting a plant of your own and expanding our network of growers. Click here to learn more.