Massia Officinale

Massia Officinale

Massia Officinale is a project evolving around a medicinal herb garden offering itself as a platform for interdisciplinary work investigating entanglements with more-than-human nature. The project acts as an extension of MASSIA, a residency for artists, scientists, political activists and any individual or group who seek to research and determine their own conditions of work and who want to think change radically.

The Massia Officinale herb garden takes the work with herbs as an entry point to rhizomatic investigations of relationships between human and more-than-human nature. The Massia Officinale rhizome wants to tangle with approaches ranging from the arts, theory, sciences and everyday practices. We’d like to bring theory into the frame of action and vice versa.

Our concept of and relation to nature/world/stuff is in need of radical change. We’d like to re-think, scratch on, un-do dichotomies that separate world into objects and subjects, nature and culture; that rank species, gender, classes, forms of labor; give some players agency and others not; disenfranchise beings, bodies and knowledges.

The residency provides accessible working and living space and is located on the Estonian countryside which is richly inhabited by plants, fungi and critters. The herb garden grows diversity and draws connections between the herbal landscape of the surroundings to the practical space of a herb laboratory, a collective apothecary and library.

Massia Officinale wants to be a platform for:
• Discourses & practices dealing with relationships between human and more-than-human nature along feminist, decolonial, queer lines
• Ecofeminist utopias and imaginings of alternative futures
• Foraging and work with herbs as post-capitalist practice
• Working with more-than-human nature as medicine for both, the human and its relation to the non-human
• Knowledge & practice sharing around herbs, wild plants and microorganisms
• People who like digging their hands into soil, shovelling compost and caring for gardens

We invite artists, researchers, thinkers & doers for collective imagining and shaping of this platform. There will be organised events and meetings throughout the year – if you’d like to be updated, send us an email to infomassia(at)gmail.com. MASSIA and the garden are open all year round and you’re welcome to visit, reside, engage, propose and collaborate.

A natureculture garden
The garden spreads over 2ha and is inhabited by old fruit trees and shrubs, birches, oaks, pines, spruces, elms and linden trees, tapestries of lichen, wild herbs, mosses and mycelium. The herb garden is home to most locally growing wild herbs and also invites cultivated herbs from other places that grow well in the local climate.

The gardening is eclectic, there are no (human) experts at work, we (no staff but whoever is present and offering their labor) borrow from all corners and experiment with plants, soil, composting, microorganisms, etc. You’ll find wild plants, groomed ones, ’weeds’, cultivated, medicinal ones… We are in favour of stepping back instead of in and prefer non-invasive practices – but we also like to reduce labor where possible. Sometimes we manage and manipulate plants and ground, sometimes we simply stop cutting and watch. We’re inconsequent – with ’weeds’, nurturing and cherishing them in some places and uprooting them in others; enchanting and disenchanting plant allies.

We’d like the garden to feel like an invitation to enter and interact with, letting the interactor find their own way of entering, being, residing, engaging, connecting; letting desire lines evolve instead of assigning routes; introducing micro climates of space that offer various ways of being in space for varieties of beings.

In 2019 the garden will experiment with growing more food and orderly rows. We will also be experimenting with offering residents 1sqm of garden to develop how they wish to. Let us know if you’d interest to adopt a sqm.

The place
Massia is located in an old school in Massiaru, a village in Häädemeeste Parish, Pärnu County in southwestern Estonia, close to the Latvian border. The location is about 180 km from Tallinn, and about 140 km from Riga (Latvia). 12 km from here is the baltic sea and its sandy beaches. 5 km from here is Nigula, one of the oldest wetland reserves of Estonia with untouched swamp forests, lakes and importance to wildlife.

The area is mainly inhabited by more-than-human nature, forests (sadly 70% of forests are for commercial use, made up of pines, spruces, alders and birches mainly), agriculturally used fields, protected wetlands.

Estonia’s right to roam allows for responsible gathering of medicinal plants, flowers, mushrooms, berries, nuts and other natural products on public land not under protection.