Caring for the Land Workshops

Art work by Kristy Cunnane, Twelve drawings of seasonal plants or outdoor activities around a center drawing of a mountain.
Art work by Kristy Cunnane, 2020**

** To purchase a poster of this art, call 374-5118!



Some of our Monthly Workshops Around the Year


Forester in a hardhat holding a chainsaw, cutting a tree.JANUARY:  “Backyard Forest Management” with Sandy Walczyk, Blue Hill Heritage Trust

Description: This workshop will introduce you to the trees in your own backyard, and give you some ideas for how you might learn about, manage and enjoy them.  We will look at winter tree identification for some common Maine trees, practice measuring tree diameters and heights, and talk about forest ecology and development.  We will go over forest products and other ecosystem services, and talk about how and why people harvest wood and other forest resources.  We will also talk about how wildlife use our forests, the basics of firewood harvesting and use, and whatever other questions you have about trees and forest management in your backyard or woodlot.     Video Recording: Backyard Forest Management 



An ice-shack on a frozen lake, and a hand holding a smelt.FEBRUARY: Winter Smelt Fishing” with Brett Ciccotelli, Downeast Salmon Federation

Description: Join us for a Q and A to ask Brett and Sarah Madronal from Downeast Salmon Federation your questions about all things SMELT! Natural history, climate change resilience, fishing tips, citizen science opportunities and more!     Video Recording




A man and a woman each holding field burning equipment with a portion of dried grass on fire behind them. MARCH: “Caring for the Wild Blueberries” with Nicolas Lindholm and Ruthie Fiske, Blue Hill Berries

Description: Ruth Fiske and Nicolas Lindholm will share their knowledge about maintaining blueberry fields for cultivation whether this is a small patch in your backyard or a large field. They will present on the importance and significance of the ecosystem within a healthy wild blueberry field, including plant species identification, creating native pollinator habitat, and the philosophical perspective of organic wild blueberry growing. Organic management techniques will also be highlighted during this workshop, including regular pruning (mowing or burning), cutting or pulling “weeds” (and what plants are troublesome and which plants can be tolerated or even welcome), using sulfur to keep soil pH low (acidic), and more. They have been growing organic wild blueberries since 1996, starting with their own farm in Penobscot. They now manage Blue Hill Berry Co., which leases and owns about 50 acres of certified organic wild blueberry land across seven fields in four towns in the Blue Hill area. In 2020, Nicolas was appointed to serve as the first-ever organic grower on Maine’s Wild Blueberry Commission.

MARCH: “Pruning Fruit Trees” with C.J. Walke from MOFGANine people gather around three bare apple trees in early spring, trimming branches to improve next year's apple production.
Description: Join us to learn the basics of pruning fruit trees during the dormant season. Led by C.J. Walke of MOFGA, we will discuss different tools, techniques and methods to prune fruit trees for better tree structure and improved fruit growth and yield. We will also cover some basics of insect and disease management as we work through the trees. This is an in person event!
C.J. Walke is one of MOFGA’s Agricultural Specialists and has been working with organic tree fruit growers for over 10 years. There will be time for a quick break for lunch as well as access to the farm restroom and entryway to warm up!




Two people leaning up against a large square plastic bin used for compost.

APRIL: Composting for Community” with Kate Tompkins and Matthew Carter, Chickadee Compost

Description: Chickadee Compost is a new community composting company based on the Blue Hill peninsula and Deer Isle. Located currently operating a solar-powered aerated static pile compost system at the Stonington Transfer Station, they will be sharing their experience building this system, and their plans for expansion. Issues around food waste and the potential for compost to improve local soils, reduce local methane and carbon emissions, and the potential to divert up to 30% of “waste” from the local solid waste stream will be discussed. Please wear boots!

Kate Tomkins grew up in Brooksville, spent 15 years working overseas in humanitarian relief and then on hunger relief in the US, and returned to the area with her family in 2018. She is passionate about community climate action, and is a member of Blue Hill Heritage Trust’s board of directors. 

Matthew Carter grew up in the California desert and after a decade in restaurants, came to intern at Yellow Birch Farm in Deer Isle in 2017. He enjoys working with food throughout its lifecycle, from seedling to dinner and back into soil. He is now a Community Compost Coordinator!


Several people working in a native garden to move dead vegetation. MAY: Strategies for Improving your Soil” with Cathy Rees and Avy Claire, Native Gardens of Blue Hill

Description:  We will cover topics related to using readily available materials on your site to restore or improve your soils. We will demonstrate strategies such as managing brush and leaves, creating habitat berms, using soil building plants, and applying compost tea. Participants will understand more deeply the way that nature recycles nutrients, and be equipped to improve soils at home.

Cathy Rees has worked for more than 25 years creating and maintaining gardens. She has also been doing ecological consulting for parks, forests, land trusts, and private individuals during that time. Her familiarization with the native flora has inspired the creative use of natives in the garden and led her to cofound Native Gardens of Blue Hill in 2015.

Avy Claire has been designing and maintaining garden landscapes for the past 30 years. Her practice is built upon an understanding that gardening is a collaboration with nature, an understanding she shares with her clients and the many young gardeners she has employed and trained.  In 2015 she co-founded Native Gardens of Blue Hill to promote the use of native plants and ecological garden practices in designed landscapes.


A table holding three buckets of plant cuttings, small potted plants, a basket of collected herbs and books.JUNE:   “From Plants to Medicinewith Linda Tisdale, Alchemilla Herbal Apothecary

Description: The outdoor places we frequent can be a good resource to locate common wild and cultivated plants that offer healing benefit.  Learn to identify some of these plants, respectfully gather the medicinal parts at the optimal time, and ways to use them as medicine.    Participants will learn the process for making a simple maceration tincture using freshly collected plants.  Also, how to strain and store the tincture, and suggested ways to use it as medicine when needed.  Always being mindful of the amazing gifts from the plants and caretaking our wild places.

Linda Tisdale has been making plant medicines for over 25 years having created “Alchemilla Herbal Apothecary” in 1995.  Recently moved to Surry after living many years in Dexter cultivating and gathering wild plants for medicine. Working with plants and trees in the garden or wild places is where she finds inner peace.



Two people on the shoreline, pointing at a tide-pool containing green seaweed,  with expressions of amazement on their faces. JULY:  Intertidal Creatures as Food and Habitat” with Jessica Muhlin and Sarah O’Malley from Maine Maritime Academy

Description: This immersive workshop will explore the natural history of intertidal creatures, seen and unseen, as well as physical and chemical influences to this dynamic ecosystem. We’ll look at intertidal organisms people have used for millennia and discuss the modern day issues around harvesting safely.

Jessica Muhlin is an intertidal ecologist who focuses on marine macroalgae (aka seaweed!). Her research interests focus on the reproductive ecology, population genetics and food web ecology of fucoid seaweeds in the northwestern Atlantic. Jessica is also actively involved in art-science collaborations using marine algae as inspiration.
Sarah O’Malley is a naturalist, educator, and former Blue Hill Heritage Trust Board member. Her research interests include community driven fisheries restoration (alewives and soft shell clams), place based restorative ecology, and science communication.




A closeup picture of edible roots and tubers.

AUGUST: Planting a Food Forest” with Hannah and Colby from Way of the Earth School

Description: Join Blue Hill Heritage Trust for their August “Stewards Almanac” Event on Planting a Food Forest with friends Hannah and Colby from Way of the Earth School in East Blue Hill. Participants will enjoy a tour of the school’s process for planting a food forest and engage in planting a tree guild on the property.
To read workshop leader bios use this link:






A young woman looking up and smiling while holding beans gathered in her tee-shirt being used as a "pouch". SEPTEMBER: “Seed Saving Basics”  with Betsy Samuelson, Community Seed Network

Description: Seed saving invites abundance into our homes and communities. This workshop provides an introduction to saving seed in your backyard garden. Specifically, the workshop will entail a basic overview that applies to most herbs, vegetables, and flowers. A handful of easy favorites will be reviewed in detail, demonstrations will include seed cleaning and saving tomato seeds.
Betsy became fascinated with seed saving in 2010, learning as she integrated growing crops seed to seed while she was working as a Organic Farm Production Manager. With the goal of increasing community resilience and supporting community seed sharing activities, Betsy helped launch Common Soil Seed Library, the Community Seed Network, helped draft and lobbied to amend the Nebraska Seed Law and the Recommended Uniform State Seed Law to allow noncommercial seed sharing. Currently, Betsy and her family reside in Monroe where they own and operate Seed & Soil, which offers cannabis seeds and plants to anyone 21+ over, slowly integrating more herbs, flowers, and vegetables into the nursery and seed offerings.



Arial view of a garden surrounded by dense tree growth.

OCTOBER: Make your Property into a Bird Sanctuary” with Leslie Clapp

Description: Join Blue Hill Heritage Trust and Leslie Clapp from Downeast Audubon for a Caring for the Land event Oct 3rd 3-4pm. Explore Leslie’s “certified wildlife habitat,” a 10-acre oasis in the middle of town. The gardens and landscaping are extensive with special attention given to native plants. Along with countless pollinators, 147 bird species have been recorded here—come and learn what plants and other creative ideas have drawn them in.




A man dressed in a Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife uniform and a fur hat standing next to a partially frozen stream in a forested area in winter.

NOVEMBER: Creating Wildlife Habitat in Your Backyard”  with Joe Roy from Inland Fisheries and Wildife

Description: Please join Blue Hill Heritage Trust and Joseph Roy, Private Lands Wildlife Biologist, from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (and Maine’s Beginning with Habitat program- an award-winning, first-in-the-nation effort that has been recommended as a model in all 50 states) to learn about managing your property for wildlife. This site walk and education program will cover topics related to the principles of wildlife habitat and techniques to create or improve wildlife habitat.





A woman wearing a homemade animal hide vest using loppers to cut branches off of a tree in the fall.

DECEMBER: Pollarding and Coppicing Your Winter Trees” with Hannah and Colby from Way of the Earth School

Description: Pollarding and coppicing is a sustainable method of caretaking trees that has been practiced for tens of thousands of years. We will learn the history of this technique, how to create and maintain them from different tree species, how pollarding benefits the trees, and explore the ways that pollarding can benefit you and the animals of the land.