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Gift given from the earth

By Staff | Apr 25, 2019

CAROL SHETLER/The Luminary Information gleaned from a woodlands workshop at Penn State University was the April 15th program at the Muncy Public Library. Speaker, Lance Yarish, an agriculturist near Exchange, PA added to his knowledge the stewardship of the land. In the foreground, a garlic garden grows while the farmer holds seedlings ready for planting as a renewable crop on the Shetler tree farm.

MUNCY – Expanding and sharing his knowledge in stewardship of the land and its resources, Lance Yarish gave a program at the Muncy Public Library on Monday, April 15. The power point presentation entitled “Full Circle Future Harvest,” centered on renewable and sustainable practices with woodlands.

Yarish is the sixth generation on a farm on the Montour County side of the Muncy Hills. Since 1881, the Miller/Shetler farm grew the usual agricultural products.

Seeking more techniques in ways to derive income from the forest, Yarish attended a forest landowner’s conference at Penn State in March. He reported that “Workshops highlighted the concept, healthy soil, vegetables and growing functional mediums. Society has moved far away from agriculture.”

The speaker continued by saying, “At the conference, forest usage was broken down into several categories including forest products such as timbering, fuel, craft material, pet stuff, mushrooms, ginseng, leeks and syrups. Each category was expanded upon.

The speaker continues to plant Christmas trees begun on the Century Farm in 1961. He has expanded into extracting sap from sugar maples for syrup making. He has added ‘Coppicing’ a practice accomplished by cutting trees high enough to allow suckers to grow without going through the process of planting new seedlings. “Cutting the new growth provides marketable greens for Christmas decoration. Coppicing is how Europeans grow firewood, a practice going back to Roman times,” Yarish said.

On the subject of fuel, Yarish attended the class on making Charcoal. “Heat from charcoal is equal to 25 pounds of wood or one gallon of gasoline. Added to soil, charcoal is similar to a sponge in that it absorbs and slowly releases nutrients. ‘Biochar’ is the name for this process,” Yarish said after explaining the process of making charcoal.

Also shown on screen were photos of various types of mushrooms. Examples included ‘Chicken of the woods’ which tastes like chicken, ‘Lions Mane’ with the flavor of lobster, and ‘Turkey Tail’ used for soup stock.

Yarish plans to grow mushrooms in wood and explained the process. “From dormant aspen or red maple trees, cut a section of wood, drill holes then inoculate before dropping in spores. The holes are then covered with a swab of hot cheese wax keeping it moist growth appears.”

“Know your mushrooms, to be safe, gather them with someone who knows what to look for,” the speaker said.

Already a grower of garlic, Yarish looks forward to planting leeks harvested locally until the end of June. On May 5, he will travel along Route 154 to Shunk where the Endless Winds Fire Company’s annual fundraiser is a Leek and Ham dinner beginning at 5 p.m.