Situated in southeastern Massachusetts, not far from the ocean, is an ecological miracle called Tidmarsh. Tidmarsh was once a vibrant ecological setting, featuring natural bogs, pristine springs, and a cold-water stream flowing freely to the sea.
In the 1890s, enterprising farmers transformed the site into cranberry bogs, producing a native fruit that supported an expanded farming economy. For decades Tidmarsh operated as a successful cranberry farm. Over time, as global cranberry production shifted, the higher cost of production made Tidmarsh less profitable.
In 2010, when they stopped farming cranberries, Tidmarsh's previous owners Evan Schulman, Glorianna Davenport, and their family did something exceptional. Instead of selling their land for development, they committed to restoring the wetlands to their wild splendor.
Imagine. Evan and Glorianna did something profoundly countercultural, they chose restoration of an ecosystem over profit. Their generosity was and is an act of restorative love. Robin Wall Kimmerer, indigenous elder, PHD Botanist, in her seminal book, 'Braiding Sweetgrass' (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Braiding_Sweetgrass ) writes:
To love a place is not enough. We must find ways to heal it.
Thanks to their efforts in undertaking the largest freshwater ecological restoration ever attempted in the Northeast, Tidmarsh is creating a mosaic of habitats including ponds, cold-water streams, red maple and Atlantic white cedar swamps, grasslands, and pine-oak forest.
Stewarded by the Audubon Society of Massachusetts (Tidmarsh Wildlife Sanctuary - Mass Audubon ) along with other partners, Tidmarsh is returning a place to harmony, where all neighbors, human and non-human, have a place to belong.
Nine dams have been removed, over three miles of new stream channel have been excavated, and thousands of tons of sediment have been removed to connect headwaters of Beaver Dam Brook with the ocean for migrating fish such as river herring, brook trout, and American eel.
Already, native plants are emerging and attracting a wide variety of insect, reptile, and bird species that have not been seen on this property for a century or more.
In Braiding Sweetgrass we hear: 'In the Western Tradition there is a recognized hierarchy of beings, with of course, the human being on top. But in Native ways of knowing, human people are often referred to as "The younger brothers and sisters of Creation." We say that humans have the least experience with how to live and thus the most to learn - we must look to our teachers among the other species for guidance. Their wisdom is apparent in the way that they live. They have been on the earth far longer than we have been, and have had time to figure things out.'
Imagine. In a time of ecological crisis, with human caused Climate Change upending the future for human and non human neighbors, a restorative act of love, on a 480 acre patch of water and land offers a pathway of healing and hope. Not just for this place but a pathway for all places.
What are the places you call home? Where do you see the land and water crying out for restoration and healing? What can you do and who can you partner with to make your corner of the world better, both for the present and future?
Look what happens when love for a place becomes more important than personal gain and financial profit. Such love both heals and restores.
With you on the journey ~ Kent Harrop
Note: Data for this blog was taken from Massachusetts Audubon