We are delighted to announce our spring 2020 retreat! This will be our eight Six Petals gathering since our founding in 2014, and we hope you will join us.
Discover the wisdom of your inner landscape while connecting deeply to the elements of the world around us - earth, air, fire, water, and ether. Through gentle Pilates, yoga, meditation, and adventurous time outdoors, we'll explore the synergistic and nourishing relationship between personal and planetary wellness. Be introduced to the local eco-system of Santa Barbara and learn why this beautiful coastal town (where Earth Day began 50 years ago!), is now considered a leading city in environmentally conscious policies. Return home rested, rejuvenated, and with new wisdom to care for yourself, your loved ones, and our precious planet. To ensure personalized attention, the retreat is limited to ten guests. Read more and sign up HERE.
Téana : Hi Tom, it's such a joy to be here with you and your team at Finca Luna Nueva. Thank you for letting us peak into your world here, where the rainforest meets your biodynamic, organic, and regenerative farm. I'm looking around and seeing most gorgeous greens, with bursts of colorful flowers and fruits.... I feel like I've stepped into the Avatar movie.
Tom: It's an absolute pleasure to welcome you and your group to Finca Luna, Téana.
Téana: One of the things I've noticed here is that there's no real separation between the forest, which feels very biodiverse and colorful and layered, and the farm.
Tom: It's our guiding principle that we should grow food like a forest. And a forest is chaotic ... in perfectly orderly way. There is an organizing genius to the madness and the chaos. There was a friend of mine - one of the great ethnobotanists in North America - who came to visit. He looked at the canopy here in this great tropical rain forest and was stunned by the layers and the diversity of form and the multiplicity of color and the chaos. But yet there is an organizing genius in the rainforest; everything is producing and every inch of sunlight is being captured. There is no bare earth. The leaves are racing up into the canopy and 99% of the sunlight is captured before it gets to the ground. And where there is ground that's available, it's being covered by vines and by an endless display of life because solar energy is endlessly bathing the planet. And that's from which all life comes.
Téana: And so why not replicate that when you create a growing zone? Why do anything other than that? We're here. This is rainforest.
Tom: Exactly. We should grow food like a rainforest grows food. And so we do not have orderly rows, straight lines… straight lines make you crazy. We believe that there should be tall trees next to shorter trees, next to vines, next to things that grow on the ground, and everything should be supporting everything else. And there should be things that come into fruit at this part of the year and things that come into fruit in other times of the year.
Téana: Is there a name for this kind of farming?
Tom: This is a neotropical regenerative farm. And the whole idea of being a regenerative farm is that after every after every harvest, the soil is richer. There's more organic matter in the ecosystem than there was before the harvest. We're not here giving "achtung" demands to Mother Earth. We're here to have a conversation with Mother Earth. Not a one way conversation, but a two way conversation with Mother Earth. We're exploring with Mother Earth what we can produce in a way that will nourish her.
Téana: There’s a deep spiritual component.
Tom: In a way, everything here is done spiritually. It's done as an offering to Gaia. It's done to nourish the ecosystem. And so we're not here with the plow, rip apart the body of mother earth as you sometimes might see in a national organic, linear, bare earth certified organic farm. That's what those people do. That's not what we do. That's not the way we think you should farm.
Téana : Yes. My herbal medicine teacher, Susan Weed once said, as we were walking in the forest in upstate New York, she said, "what would happen if we cleaned the forest?" And we all thought for a second, "clean the forest ... I think it would die." She said, "yes, that's right. If we cleaned the forest, it would die." And that's something I've noticed walking around your farm: leaves that fall from the trees are able to stay there and be used as mulch, as ground cover. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Tom: Yes. So we're here in the human tropics. So when when leaves fall they will decompose very quickly and leaves are constantly falling between one to two percent of the canopy of the rainforest actually comes down every year creating light gaps. And there was a constant contribution of organic matter that falls onto the surface of the soil. And then there are decomposing micro-organisms in the forest and on our farm that are breaking down that organic matter and creating what I think you could call "fast food." The breaking down of organic matter creates a quick blast of nourishment for the farm and for the forest. And then the slower food would be the carbon storage that occurs in the top soil, in the structure of the soil organic matter. And that's not created by decomposing micro-organisms, by the fungi and bacteria that, that breakdown the soil, those are created by the composing micro-organisms, the soil food-web that will take the sunlight and the root exudates and the sugars that are pumped into the soil by the plants to create more complex long term structures of organic matter. And that's the slower food.
Téana: There’s a lot going on under our feet.
Tom: Right, and then as you go deeper into the soil, you get the really slow food that might be resident in the soil for hundreds or thousands of years. And then ultimately what you get the slowest food of all, which would be the more inorganic structures of carbon, which basically never breakdown. So you have, as in the ocean, trophic levels, there's fast food at the very surface, the O horizon of organic matter breaking down very quickly. And then you have in the A horizon, which is very deep and rich. Here you have the rich soil organic matter, which is contributed to the ecosystem by the sun, pulsing through the photosynthetic processes of the plant, creating carbohydrates, which then are exuded out into the the the living soil by plant roots feeding and nourishing the structures of the soil, creating the slower food, which is the domain of an infinite variety of life.
At the root tip, there are literally countless millions of micro-organisms in every thimble full of soil and healthy soil. There could be six billion micro-organisms and at the root tip there will be one hundred times that number in an infinite variety of life. We're not looking to dummy down this ecosystem to grow one thing. We are looking to support that infinite expression of life because life begets life. Life flows from life and everything that grows on our farm is an expression of that infinite display, that playfulness of the variety of life that we have here.
Téana : I love that word that you use often: playfulness.
Tom: This is a neotropical playground and when you walk through the rain forest and the howler monkeys came to greet you, when you saw the basilisks scurrying across the surface of the water when you have the scarlet macaws and trojans and the mama sloth and the sloth baby. And we have two-toed and three-toed sloths here. it's always joyous us here. It's always the National Geographic project right here.
Téana : It's been such a pleasure to visit Finca Luna Nueva and to get to know you Tom and learn about your important work on regenerative farming -- establishing that as a key component that we can all use to help us reimagine the future. To reimagine a world that works for all creatures, all sentient beings, including the plants, the flowers and, and humans.
Tom: Beautifully stated.
Téana : For our listeners who may want to know more or visit Finca Luna Nueva, how would they find out more?
Tom: They could come visit our website, and thank you for asking, at www.fincalunanueva.com.
Téana : Great, thank you. And then let's also direct them to the carbon underground website to learn more about regenerative farming.
Tom: Wonderful. And that's the not for profit that a few of us are founded to help nourish the regenerative agricultural revolution worldwide. And our website is www.thecarbonunderground.org.
Téana : Okay, fantastic. Thank you so much, Tom. It's been a delight speaking with you.
Tom: Con Mucho Gusto. Pura Vida.
Nourishing Herbal Infusions are the mineral-rich bedrock of the Wise Woman Tradition. They are easy-to-make, delicious brews that are safe for people at all stages of life including children.
If infusions are new for you, you can look forward to the increased energy, calmer nerves, shinier hair, and softer skin you will soon have. Nourishing Herbal Infusions (NHI) are most supportive if consumed on a regular basis, and over time you will discover a rhythm that is sustainable for you. Many people make infusions each night by following the directions I have laid out below, as the goal is to drink at least 2 cups (and up to 4) of infusion per day. I make a larger amount of infusion every two nights and find that it keeps in my fridge over that period of time as I drink it. One of my friends, a single mom, decided to only make and drink infusions on the weekends when her son is with his father, as this is currently realistic for her. The important element to note here is the commitment to a regular rhythm, your own unique ritual of self-care.
Place 1 oz (28 grams) of dried herb in a quart/litre mason jar. I rotate through Nettle Leaf, Comfrey Leaf, Oatstraw, Linden Flower, and Red Clover, which I purchase organically from Frontier Herbs. It is of utmost important to weight the herb each time on a kitchen scale to ensure that you are getting the full benefits.
Every herb in your rotation -and we only work with one herb at a time - requires the same amount, except for Linden, which only requires 0.5 oz (14 grams) of herb. Boil water and then let it cool for a couple of minutes, before pouring over the dried herb, filling your mason jar completely to the top. Stir the infusion herb into water with a chopstick or other utensil and tightly lid your jar. Let the herb brew by allowing it to sit on counter for 4-8 hrs. or overnight. In the morning, strain the herb out with a very fine mesh sieve, and compost or re-brew if it is Linden or Comfrey: To re-brew, place the herb into a small pot, cover with three cups of cold water, bring to a boil, turn off, lid the pot and let sit for 4-8 hrs.
Once strained, store your infusion in the fridge and drink within 48hrs. Never mix your herbs, but do a different one every day or two. You can start with just one herb if you wish, getting to know it and feel how it feels in your body. Soon you will notice the minerals affecting your body in wonderful ways! Enjoy.
If you are like me, you like to get as much exercise as you can through outdoor activities, which makes winter time in colder climates a challenge. Gyms certainly have their place (and have been helpful and even fun at times in my life), but somehow I can't shake the feeling that we have moved in a strange direction as a species when we sit all day, then go to a place with special machines in order to build strength & move the blood around our bodies.
Here are some suggestions for staying active through the winter months without, or as a compliment to, a gym membership:
• Dedicate a space in your house where you can keep a soft mat and/or yoga mat out at all times. You may also want any props such as a Pilates Magic Circle, light weights, or a yoga block nearby. I find it beneficial to keep my mat out and ready for stretching, Pilates, yoga, or any other movement rather than rolling it up and putting it away each day.
• Get to know your local Pilates or yoga studio and check out their group classes. If a before or after work class doesn't work in your schedule, see if there are studios near your work that offer express lunch hour classes and mark them ahead of time in your calendar as meetings so that you prioritize them.
• Bundle up and go out for a brisk walk. Yes, I resist this option as well, but the truth is, once I'm out there, I enjoy it and usually feel refreshed. If having a destination helps, think about walking to the grocery store or library instead of calling a Lyft.
• Treat yourself to a retreat! There are so many options these days that will help you recommit to a healthy routine and get you out of the cold. You're also sure to meet great people and be introduced to new teachers and ways of moving.