The Medicine Wheel Garden Project at Lusscroft Farm began in the Spring of 2009 with the installation of the Medicine Wheel Community Garden and “medicinal compost” system. Our mission was to establish a botanical destination within the state park system and to bring agriculture and education back to the property, rich in agricultural history, research and innovation, as well as to demonstrate bio-intensity, bio-diversity, and relativity using sustainable and organic farming methodologies.
Started in an unshaven hay field, the Medicine Wheel is a 48 foot circular garden comprised of 12 individual pie slice shaped gardens with a flag pole at its center and a pathway between each garden serving as the spokes of the wheel. Each garden, dedicated to one moon cycle features 3 native medicinal herbs associated with the direction that the garden faces along with other complimentary and deer resistant, ornamental flowers,herbs and ground covers.
The “medicinal compost” system is based on a method perfected by Brian Hennessey, one of the founding members of the garden project at Lusscroft. Medicinal plants used in bio-dynamic farming – such as stinging nettle, valerian, yarrow, chamomile, horsetail, dandelion, comfrey and many others from the garden – are grown, harvested and utilized with grass clippings to make up the green layers in the compost piles. Alternately, brown layers are made up of leaves, leaf mold, and straw. Native soil, manure, food scraps and worm castings are layered in as well as bio-activators. The piles are free standing and are shaped, aerated and watered regularly to ensure continuous decomposition, maturing in as little as 180 days with no turning. Each year we have featured composting workshops as part of our educational programming.
Volunteers hosted the 1st annual Medicine Wheel Community Garden Celebration at Lusscroft Farm May 16th & 17th, 2009.
Design and installation of the ” Sister Moon “garden. In the shape of a half moon, this garden features many plants with silver foliage to fluoresce by moonlight & flowers in cool shades of pink, white & blue. Many native, medicinal and aromatic plants are also part of the design.
Volunteers hosted the 2nd annual Medicine Wheel Community Garden Celebration at Lusscroft Farm May 22nd & 23rd, 2010
Design and installation of the foundation planting was added in front of the Manor House. As we started planting around the buildings we sought to work with plants that have grown on the property for a long time and plants that have been used in landscaping from the period when the buildings were first used as residences. The plan was designed by landscape architect Anne Fahey who donated her time and services. We plan to continue with ” heritage or period ” planting as a theme around the Manor House and Managers Dwelling side of Nielson Road.
The first garlic and heirloom tomato planting at Lusscroft Farm was added. This was very important as it was the first planting of food crops. We chose garlic as it can be planted without a fence. Currently we are growing 18 varieties of garlic including hardneck and softneck varieties as well as shallots. The purpose of these plantings is to research varietal preferences, establish stock and eventually bring to market. With the heirloom tomatoes we launched a seed saving initiative and have been saving seeds ever since. So far we have saved 16 varieties of tomatoes.
We hosted the 3rd annual Medicine Wheel Community Garden Celebration at Lusscroft Farm May 21st & 22nd, 2011
Volunteers designed and installed the foundation planting in front of the Managers Dwelling and refurbished the garden on the side of the building. Many thanks to Medicine Wheel and long time gardener Nancy McLain from Sussex. Much of the plant material came from Nancy’s yard and she managed the design & installation. Nancy’s own gardens are an example of how “only a forty year old garden can be” with mature stands of plants gathered over the years and from the surrounding area.
The building of the ” sweet pea wiki-up” came next. Built by Medicine Wheel volunteers and students from the Ridge & Valley Charter School, the structure is constructed of local willow branches built into a rounded shape like a wigwam used by native people from the area. Planted around it are Sweet Pea plants that grow up the sides. These Sweet Peas have been growing at Lusscroft for decades. This was the beginning of a “children’s garden”. There is an opening facing east that allows for sitting inside and has been a favorite spot for children and photo opportunities.
Volunteers continued the planting of garlic and heirloom tomatoes from our own saved garlic and tomato seeds along the fence and in the field adjacent to the Medicine Wheel Garden .
We hosted the 4th annual Medicine Wheel Community Garden Celebration at Lusscroft Farm May 19th & 20th, 2012
Continuing the planting of garlic and heirloom tomatoes from our saved garlic and tomato seeds, we added our first pumpkin crop.We hosted our first “pick your own & paint” pumpkin event.
Volunteers hosted the 5th annual Medicine Wheel Community Garden Celebration & Festival at Lusscroft Farm May 18th & 19th, 2013.
“The Owl” was gifted to the Sister Moon Garden from Freehand Custom Carvings. We had around 600 attendees. We had a raffle of a Custom Carved Bear that was donated by Brett McLain of Freehand Custom Carvings. All proceeds went to Restoration of Lusscroft Farm.
* Please note * Our annual garden celebration became also a” festival” at this juncture continuing our commitment to agricultural and educational demonstrations and workshops and also featuring two full days of music showcasing local performing artists.
The yearly planting garlic and heirloom tomatoes from our saved garlic and tomato seeds including creating a new garlic bed. We planted our second pumpkin crop and hosted our second “pick your own & paint” pumpkin event.
Volunteers began working with cover crops including dutch white clover and winter rye to research & demonstrate the soil building properties of adding cover crops to the planting rotation. Further exploration including additional cover cropping is surely part of our farm development.
We hosted the 6th annual Medicine Wheel Community Garden Celebration & Festival at Lusscroft Farm, May 17th & 18th, 2014 including our first “Pop Up” Art Gallery. Before we knew it, a piano rolled in and became also a “pop up” music gallery!
“The Turtle” was gifted to the Medicine Wheel Garden by Freehand Custom Carvings. We had about 1200 attendees. Seed packets were given out instead of “hand stamps”, lovingly packed & donated by the Lawler Family.
Our “Gardens Without Fences & Classrooms Without Walls” educational program was launched.
We lost one of our founding fathers this year, Brian Hennessey – Medicine Wheel Garden founding member, visionary, artist, community activist and beloved friend. Before passing in the Fall, he was able to attend his last Medicine Wheel Community Garden Celebration & Festival and had a blast. Many people hovered around to show their huge love for what he had helped to create back in 2009. Volunteers hosted a memorial service in honor of Brian, including a memorial tree planting .
The “Garden Club” was launched and every Sunday from April through October people could volunteer to put their hands in the soil and really connect with the gardens.
The “Sweet Pea Wiki-Up” needed reinforcing this year, so Paul and volunteers got it shored up and ready for the kids to have more fun!
We had a fundraising raffle of an Appalachian Mountain Dulcimer crafted by Jim Bangma. The dulcimer was handcrafted from tulip poplar wood salvaged from one of the original barns at Lusscroft. All proceeds went to Restoration of Lusscroft Farm .
The yearly planting garlic and heirloom tomatoes was done from our saved garlic and tomato seeds. We added a fourth bed to our rotation of garlic, pumpkins and cover crops. We planted our third pumpkin crop, however the critters ate every last one of them! Regardless, Paul Cardillo was able to get pumpkins brought in, and hosted our third “pick your own & paint” pumpkin event.
The fallen tree just inside the wall was cleared away along with the poison ivy. The Rugosa Rose garden was restored inside of both of the walls shown here.
We hosted the 7th annual Medicine Wheel Community Garden Celebration & Festival at Lusscroft Farm, May 16th & 17th, 2015. Musicians, Pop-Up Artists, Farmers, Crafters and Vendors, people of all ages gathered for the best Festival to date.
“The Bench” was gifted to Brian Hennessey’s Memorial Garden by Freehand Custom Carvings. We had about 1400 attendees. Seed packets were given out instead of “hand stamps”, lovingly donated by the Lawler Family.
The Volunteer Committee voted after much deliberation that going forward the name of our event will be called “Annual Medicine Wheel Festival and Community Garden Celebration” since we are growing every year.
Funds were donated specifically for a “Medicine Wheel Project” by local musicians in hopes that a permanent stage will be erected. More to come on this!