Massia Officinale is a physical and conceptual space evolving around a herb garden on the Estonian countryside. It offers itself as grounds to generate tools and exchanges for people within the intersections of plant practices, artistic research, critical and environmental studies, and everyday practices; invoking an alternative research site and community for cultivating ways of studying- and practicing-with.
The space extends MASSIA, a residency that welcomes individuals or groups from any field – artists, activists, researchers, practitioners, scientists etc. – to follow or create their own modes of work and knowledge production. MASSIA provides accessible working and living spaces amidst neighboring forests, bog reserves, coastal marshes and the Baltic Sea. The garden draws connections between the living surroundings, the practical space of a herb laboratory and communal apothecary and diverse bodies of knowledge.
MASSIA is busy with notions of self-organisation and making alternatives possible. With Massia Officinale, the ideas extend to the living surroundings and the notion of thriving in co-existence with differing others, in alliance with more-than-human worlds.
MASSIA OFFICINALE WANTS TO BE A SPACE FOR:
• Discourses & practices informed by decolonial, feminist, queer, post-capitalist analysis
• Solidarity that binds together humans and more-than-humans in shared struggles
• Open Source and DIY/DIT culture
• Ecofeminists, herbalists, witches, growers…
• People who like digging their hands into soil, shoveling compost and caring for gardens (also questioning gardens)
We invite practitioners and researchers of all sorts for an ongoing imagining and shaping of this space. MASSIA offers work and living space at low cost and no application is needed. Just send us an email to infomassia(at)gmail.com with the dates you’d like to come. We organise events and meetings throughout the year – if you’d like to know more and/or receive announcements, send us an email to the same address.
A NATURECULTURE GARDEN
The garden spreads over 2ha and is inhabited by wild herbs, old fruit trees and berry bushes, birches, oaks, pines, spruces, elms and linden trees, tapestries of lichen, mosses, mycelium… The herb garden is home to most locals and also invites cultivated herbs from other places that grow well in the Baltic climate.
The gardening is eclectic, there are no (human) experts at work, we (no staff but whoever is present and offering their care) borrow from all corners and experiment with plants, soil, compost, organisms, 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 eat food from the garden and to reduce labor. Sometimes we manage and manipulate plants and ground, sometimes we stop and observe. We’re inconsequent – with ’weeds’, cherishing them in some places and uprooting them in others, enchanting and disenchanting plant allies. We like permacultural practices but we’re of no school.
The garden and apothecary are an ongoing experiment with self-organisation made possible by a nomadic community. 2019 we started growing food. Everybody coming to MASSIA is invited to exchange their care for harvest from the garden.
Here you can see a walk through the garden last summer: www.massia.ee/post-spring-garden-walk/
Massia is located in an old school in Massiaru, a village in Häädemeeste Parish, Pärnu County on the southwestern coast of Estonia. The location is about 180 km south of Tallinn, and about 140 km north of Riga (Latvia). 12 km from here is the Baltic Sea and its sandy beaches. 5 km from here is Nigula, one of the oldest bog reserves of Estonia with swamp forests, lakes and importance to wildlife. The area is mainly inhabited by non-human nature, forests, fields and 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.