This week's guest, Tusha Yakovleva calls on us to remember our millennium-old relationship with weedy beings and the gifts of wild and invasive plants. It is estimated that worldwide spending on invasive species exceeds one trillion dollars annually. But if we were to cease our violent relationship with weeds and invasive species, what might we find? Cultural cooperation between plants and people? A whole slew of plant-relatives that are thriving in increasingly challenging landscapes? We are challenged to think about our capacity, or willingness, to know invasive plants - Tusha queries listeners to ask: Do we know their reasons for making home in unfamiliar soils? Or what gifts and responsibilities they carry? We are left with much to think about in the realm of curiosity and acceptance, two muscles that need an exceptional amount of exercise in a time where so much is rapidly changing environmentally and socially.
Tusha Yakovleva is an educator, gatherer and ethnobotanist whose work revolves around generating strong, respectful relationships between plants and people. The foundations of her life-long foraging practice come from her family and first home - the Volga River watershed in Russia - where tending to uncultivated plants and mushrooms for food and medicine is common practice. Tusha is the author of Edible Weeds on Farms: Northeast Farmers Guide to Self-growing Vegetables. Tusha is currently completing graduate work at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry on Onondaga Nation homelands. Her research is in support of cross-cultural partnerships for biocultural restoration and takes place under the guidance of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment.