2016 Harvesting Our Potential Mentee Learns About Farming and Foraging

by Ashe Anne Milkovic2016 Harvesting Our Potential Mentee

My mentor was Cait Caughey of Botna Burrow Farm, which was an organic-practice vegetable farm on the outskirts of Hancock, IA. Unfortunately they are not running Botna Burrow anymore. They had to let go of the farm for personal reasons.

I worked on their farm for about 8 months last year from February - October. I started off in the apple orchard they were renting to learn how to prune trees and get an orchard started for the upcoming growing season. I then moved on to working as a farm hand, learning about various plants and farming techniques. I hadn’t had vegetable farming experience prior, only animal husbandry, so it was definitely a nice new challenge!

Cait and I focused primarily with our mentorship on native prairie plants, learning which are edible and medicinal, and which should be avoided. Cait taught me the various ways that our native medicine can be used, and she also taught me many preservation methods for both herbs and vegetables. To my surprise, we have more helpful plants around us in our native habitat than harmful! Almost every plant has some sort of medicinal or edible quality to it. Learning and remembering the wisdom as to what plant helps with what, is the challenge.

I had quite a few good experiences with Cait! She’s very passionate about what she loves, so she makes for an amazing mentor and teacher. She definitely showed me some doors when it comes to the world of natural healing. I am very thankful for our time together.

My plan for farming in the future is currently in the makes. My partner and I have just come across some land out in the Loess Hills of Iowa. We’re setting up a yurt, and getting the property ready for us to homestead out there. Next year we plan to begin a garden with a permaculture foundation. What we will have going on will be relatively small in the beginning, mainly big enough for just us, perhaps with a little extra to give to the surrounding community.

I’m currently training to become a nutritional therapy consultant, taking steps towards becoming a doula practitioner in the future.

I enjoyed the mentorship opportunity I had last year – I definitely know way more now about how to forage for food and medicine within our native environment, as well as what it means to maintain a market vegetable garden. Thank you for having me! It was such a joy to be able to work with WFAN in the 2016 Harvesting Our Potential mentorship program.