This endeavor began with a vision to help people in our community get to know the plants native to our region. We wanted people to learn to recognize the plants, to become comfortable with them, to understand them, to build relationships with them. We needed a name to describe this sense of familiarity we would be working to create.
It was in the pages of Robin Wall Kimmerer’s wonderful book, Braiding Sweetgrass, that we found “botanical belonging.” Dr. Kimmerer places these two words near the beginning of a chapter in which she takes pre-med students on an excursion where they get to know a place through interacting with plants growing there. This “sense of botanical belonging,” she writes, was “the least” she could give them.
This feeling of comfortable familiarity with the natural world is a tremendous gift that opens up an active reciprocal relationship. By observing and attempting to nurture native plants in the world around us, we learn. The plants teach us about themselves and about the land. They tell us about history and enable us to see it unfolding. We become familiar.
We acknowledge with gratitude the influence Braiding Sweetgrass has had on the development of our mission. And we truly appreciate Dr. Kimmerer’s willingness to allow us to use her words to give what we do here a fitting name.