ISLESFORD — For 28-year-old island native Jasmine Samuel, life on Little Cranberry is not about limitations.
“We might have a small, contained community,” said Samuel, “but if you look around, there’s lots of opportunity. It definitely helps to have a close group of friends.”
Samuel grew up on the island but left for boarding school and college. During her last two years of college, Samuel began spending more time on Islesford, taking the fall semester off so that she could be on the island seven months at a time.
“It came from wanting to be closer to friends and family,” she said, “and me coming to terms with changes in life and needing the support of friends and family.”
Samuel took part in the Island Sustainability through Leadership and Entrepreneurship program (ISLE), run by Leadership for Local Change and the Island Institute. This gave her the knowledge and support she needed to start Mixed Roots Farm, a perma-culture food forest that mimics a natural ecosystem.
“It’s just at the very beginning,” she said. “I’m putting in fruit trees this coming spring. “
The fruit trees are the first layer in a seven-layer process. It’s a long-term endeavor, but “an exciting one!” she said. She loves “walking around the property and envisioning it in a year or five years when the plants come into themselves.”
Given that Samuel has undertaken such a project, one might assume that she plans to make the island her home.
“Islesford will be my long-term, but not my entire permanent [home],” she said. “In between I know there are other places in the world that call to me.”
In fact, Samuel’s father’s family is from the Caribbean island Saint Vincent, and Samuel has been spending winters there. She plans to go back again this year to work on the family’s Madam Ground Farm and help implement organic techniques into the infrastructure.
When she’s not physically working on the farm, Samuel spends a lot of her time doing behind-the-scenes work.
“I research and plan seasonal and long-term projects both for Mixed Roots Farm and Madam Ground Farm,” she said. “I have also been attending perma-culture related workshops and courses through Portland’s Resilience Hub, a great network of inspiring people who have been very supportive and encouraging of my passion for food and also very quick to share knowledge and skills.”
One of the things Samuel loves about living on Islesford is the peace and beauty of the island.
“I love it being so quiet. It’s really one of the most beautiful places in the world,” she said. “I love that I have the fellowship of the Islesford community. It’s like a very large family, and that’s very enjoyable.”
To that end, she also spends time working on projects for the Islesford Neighborhood House, the island’s community building.
While Samuel knows there are other places and things in the world that interest her, she doesn’t feel like she’s missing out on anything living on a tiny island.
“Wherever one is, you’re missing out on something,” she said. “I try to dwell on what I’m getting here. There is so much to be gained; I’m trying to dwell on the positive. I’m really appreciating it, it’s worth it.”