I’m posting my second review of a primitive skills schools in Maine. This week’s featured school is Maine Primitive Skills School in Augusta. I recently took two classes here.
For those of you familiar with Maine you might think Augusta? That’s urban. Although you might be technically correct according to some government definitions, Augusta is not that big as far as cities go (only about 18,000 people), and the school is quite far from any actual urban area. The school, run by well known primitive skills guru Mike Douglas, is nestled on a rural road not far from the meandering banks of the sacred Kennebec River. The entryway to the school may not seem primitive at first glance, but take one step inside the classroom or one step into the backyard and the primitive world will unfold before you.
The indoor classroom is one of the most special human-made places I’ve ever had the privilege of visiting. The floor boards are weathered from years of hands-on projects, and the walls are covered in animal pelts, handcrafted tools and fascinating information like wild plant harvest schedules and bird migration routes. A wood stove sits content in the corner, and a dimly lit chalk board awaits, usually tattooed with interesting graphs and symbols and other forms of knowledge. Attached to the classroom is an active apothecary where you can cook and chat with various instructors and apprentices who are always eager to share knowledge and talk about various primitive skill techniques. The knowledge within these walls is truly extraordinary and a few days here will remind you of how much you have yet to learn.
Mike starts and closes every class with a sharing of gratitude, which we do by sitting in a circle and expressing what we are thankful for. The environment here is calm and reflective, sprinkled with hilarious jokes and a cheerful spirit. Ego is conspicuously missing, a refreshing surprise in our modern society.
The land in and around the school is home to dozens of highly sought-after wild edible plants, thus serving as the perfect location for foraging walks and workshops. Everything from sunchokes, to wild ginger, nettle, yucca, mugwort, evening primrose and more abound.
In addition to an indoor classroom, they also have an outdoor classroom, a fire pit, and several primitive shelters demonstrating various building techniques.
I took a primitive basket-making/fiber arts course, as well as a fall foraging course here. Both were high quality and well worth the money.
All the teachers and apprentices are friendly and welcoming. In fact, the community here is quite remarkable and took me in with open arms. I went here to learn a few new skills, which I easily gained, but I left with something much greater: the feeling of community. A deep, rich, sense of the re-wilding community. I highly recommend taking courses here.