The Restoration of Natural System Program’s academic administrator Val Schaefer’s new website, Beyond the Pail, is a series of stories that revolve around mindfulness, listening, insight, deep ecology and presence using nature as a theme.



This article was originally published on Beyond the Pail.  It has been partially reprinted here with permission from Dr. Valentin Schaefer.

Our relationship with nature is complex. We usually think in terms of taking from nature. It provides us with our needs and wants. But to be a part of nature we also need to give back. There needs to be reciprocity. The act of being in a reciprocal relationship with nature is captured in the practice of the honourable harvest as described by Robin Kemmerer, author of Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants. Robin sees plants as teachers and we can demonstrate our respect for them by noticing them as individuals – as persons, knowing their names, giving them our attention, treating them with respect and restoring their populations and habitat.

 She uses the word “honourable” in place of the usual “sustainable” because she points out that “sustainable” at its very core promotes the notion that we are doing things for the benefit of future human generations, perpetuating a “taking” paradigm. The word “honourable” evokes a different reciprocity paradigm. Robin outlines a number of basic principles that characterize an honourable harvest that applies to every exchange between people and the Earth. As outlined in an article on “How to Create a Culture of Good Health” Robin wrote for the Winter 2016 issue of YES! Magazine, these are:

 Ask permission of the ones whose lives you seek

  1. Abide by the answer – it might be “no”
  2. Never take the first plant you find
  3. Never take the last plant you find
  4. Harvest in a way that minimizes harm
  5. Take only what you need and leave some for others
  6. Use everything that you take
  7. Take only that which is given to you
  8. Share it, as the Earth has shared with you
  9. Be grateful.
  10. Reciprocate the gift.

 Read the full story on Beyond the Pail

  • Posted April 26, 2018