Celebrating a strong, creative, resilient Lunenburg County
NOW, MORE THAN EVER...
Story and photo by MARGARET HOEGG
Just a few years ago, Cheryl Lycette and her husband Brian Nichols would leave the city to celebrate Brian’s birthday in Lunenburg County. They’d take the scenic lighthouse route, pop into antique shops, lunch in Lunenburg, take the cable ferry across the LaHave River to grab a treat at the LaHave bakery, then head to Crescent Beach. Now, they celebrate every day - enjoying a simple, abundant life together on their 67-acre farm.
For over twenty years, Cheryl and Brian lived a hectic city life, running Cheryl’s busy Naturopathic Practice and Organic Spa and restoring and managing a multi-unit apartment complex. They worked all the time, and life felt like a constant struggle. Cheryl had always used herbs in her practice, as capsules or tinctures, but one day it struck her that she had no idea what most of them looked like in their natural state. This disconnect really bothered her, and she and Brian knew it was time for a big change.
“We had to sit down and realize ‘This is not working,” says Cheryl, “and we just had to look at everything and ask ourselves, ‘What do we want?’”
Consulting real estate listings and soil and water maps, they went in search of their perfect land. They found it at the end of a drumlin on a 19th century
farmstead in Lunenburg County.
“There’s so much diversity here with the stuff that’s growing on these drumlins, then there’s wetlands, and everything that grows at the edges,” Brian points out. Now they farm and forage from their land, and drawing on Cheryl’s training, they formulated a line of natural, medicinal tinctures: Green Umbrella Medicinals.
“There are still a few things that I haven’t figured out how to replace,” says Cheryl, “but the grand majority of what I use now are the tinctures that I make from our land. And I think they work way better because they’re growing right here and we’re making such small batches, we can pick them when they’re perfect.”
Now, work and life flow with the seasons. The busy warmer months are spent growing, harvesting, preparing plant medicines and supporting clients. Winter provides time to walk in the woods or on the frozen marsh, read stacks of books, and cut firewood from their land. Embracing these seasonal rhythms has nurtured their personal growth. Last Winter, Cheryl taught herself to play cello and Brian tried hunting and got his first deer. Cheryl has observed firsthand how this connection to place impacts overall health and resilience. While her rural clients still experience the stress of modern life, she notes that “people get better a heck of a lot faster here. It seems like there’s no lack of people working hard, but people take time out. The lifestyle here is more humane.”
They’re inspired by local practice of traditional skills, such as logging by horse, gathering seaweed from the beach, and living off the land. Research has shown that tight-knit community and diet contribute in a big way to longevity and happiness - and Lunenburg County has an unusually large population of centenarians. Cheryl and Brian believe there’s something to that.
Through reconnecting with nature, they’ve invested in something that offers continual return - health, happiness, and well-being. Brian says, “we’re becoming more and more part of it - we’re drinking this great water, eating the plants that are just growing out there. The maple syrup came from that tree over there.” Cheryl adds, “I just want every molecule of my body to be from this land.”