Thursday, June 9, 2016

Coming Spring 2017!

 
Calling all plant people, green wanderers, organic gardeners, land stewards, permie enthusiasts, lovers of all things natural and this beautiful electric globe we live on.....Coming Spring 2017 the Soul Flower Farm School of Earth Medicine.
 
 
Sign up at www.soulflowerfarm.com to join the mailing list and for updates.  Please spread the word!  Let's Reclaim, Remember, Awaken, Elevate and change the world together!  Love and Light!
 
 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Epic Travel #2...Kenya Adventures

Watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you, because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.  Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.  -Roald Dahl
 
 
Epic travel adventure numero dos....Africa!  Miraculously I was invited to participate in a biodiversity conference in Thika Kenya, an hour outside of Nairobi.  My travel companions were four women, all affiliated with MESA (Multi National Exchange for Sustainable Agriculture).  The conference was attended by about thirty participants from around the globe; policy makers, researchers, educators, farmers, and NGO representatives.  The goal was to brainstorm solutions for increasing biodiversity in food systems and to discuss problems and challenges that small land holders face around the world especially in third world countries.  We spent much of the time broken into small groups talking about issues like drought, seed saving, fund raising and how to market products, as well as listening to presentations by members of the Agricultural Biodiversity Community. 
 
 
Hosted by PELUM KENYA, the conference center was beautiful, located on what felt like a mini farm with lush gardens, ponds and even hutches of rabbits.  It was such a privilege to participate in conversation with this rich, knowledgeable and diverse group of people.  Some of the organizations represented at the conference were PELUM, ILEIA, MESA, Muliru Farmer's Group, African Biodiversity Network, South Indian Federation of Fishermen Society, Earth Net Foundation, Dhan Foundation India, WESA and  South Alliance for Indigenous Resources. 
 

 
As part of the conference we went on two field trips to local farming projects.  The first was to the Thoma Wa Mukamba Community Cultural Learning Center.  This group focuses on traditional seed saving specifically ten native food crops.  They are reviving indigenous seeds and cultural foods made with these traditional crops. 
 
 

The highlight was visiting H.I.M. Negus Shiriki Community, a Rastafarian community of artists and youth from Nairobi.  This is hands down the most magical farm I have ever seen.
(click the link to learn more about this inspiring group and our visit)

 
 
These brothers and sisters are incredible artists who create mosaic murals and make clothing and sandals with an ancient style of Kemetic weaving.  They are stewarding land in the Maragua district of Kenya.  I have never seen a farm so amazing.  The diversity of vegetation grown there for food and medicine is astounding as well as the abundance and health of the plants.  I can't describe how much I felt at home there, I didn't want to leave!

 
We received a tour of the gardens from Brother herbalist and medicine man Ras Abasa and little four year old Sista Menen (who knows all the plants and can tell you their medicinal uses!)   We also helped plant fruit trees. 

 
 
  
We had the opportunity to see some of the craftsmanship handmade by Sista Njoki, beautiful sandals and many types of jewelry.   We also got to meet her two month old twins sons, Jahwise and Jahsent.
 
 
 
The biggest blessing of the visit was the nourishing, homegrown ital meal and tea made
with lemongrass, ginger root and coconut milk.  Heaven!  A piece of my soul will forever reside with the Shiriki Community.  Peace and Blessings be upon them and may their natural way of life be preserved!
 
 
 
 
 
After the conference we spent another week in Kenya and stayed with some MESA friends at the GBIAK farm.  GBIAK stands for Grow Bio intensive Agriculture Kenya.   
 
 
 
GBIAK is run by two incredible farmers who have a mission to teach bio intensive and sustainable agriculture to all those who come to learn.  The first day we arrived they were holding a workshop for indigenous farmers from the northern region who had been using synthetic fertilizers and had depleted their soils. 
 
 
Corn, sorghum, papaya, mangoes, jute, amaranth, sun hemp, nightshade, squash, okra, melons, greens, sweet potatoes, and bamboo are just a few of the crops grown here.  GBIAK uses the farming methods of John Jeavons. They are a perfect model of bio intensive agriculture, a prolific amount of food grown on a few acres.  
 
 
 
 
The most inspiring part of visiting GBIAK was their seed bank.  I fell in love with this idea and immediately wanted to build one back home.  Farmers come from all around to purchase organic seeds from this bank at one dollar per spoonful. 
 
 
I bought many varieties I am excited to try; drought resistant corn, sun hemp, jute, moringa, black amaranth, and others.  I managed to successfully smuggle them all home in my dirty pairs of socks!
 

 
During the rest of our trip we stayed in Nairobi and explored the city.  Of course we had to spend a full day at the Masai market.  So many amazing handmade goods and colors!  It was a bit of an overwhelming experience until I learned I had to bargain!
 
 
 
More adventures included visits to the elephant orphanage, lots of babies ages ranging from a few months to three years old. 
  
 
 
 
 
My friend got lots of muddy elephant love. 
 
 
This is Ed who I met at the Giraffe sanctuary.  He was surprisingly affectionate with his long neck hugs.  Toward the end of our trip we went on safari and saw all the incredible animals living in the park.  The day ended with a pride of seven lions about twenty yards from us.  So majestic!   
 
 
We ended up spending a day and a half in Ethiopia on our way home, also beautiful to tour Addis Ababa on foot.  Traveling to Africa was an opportunity of a lifetime.  There is so much more I could say about my adventures.  I left out a lot of the magical experiences.  The inspiration and expansion I experienced cannot be put into words.  In a nutshell this trip was a healing gift...life changing.  Thank you and gratitude to my supportive family and to PELUM Kenya for making it possible for me to have this experience!  I am so grateful for the new friendships I have made and we are already implementing many of the ideas I learned about here on our farm.  Give thanks for continuous growth and learning!

AMANI NA UPENDO
Peace and Love!
 

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Epic Travel #1...England Adventures

"Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off.
Build your wings on the way down."
-Ray Bradbury
 

 
Almost six months later I am finally writing about some of my recent adventures... In September I was blessed to receive a scholarship through the Black Permaculture Network to embark on an adventure to England to attend the International Permaculture Convergence 2015.  It was a truly awesome experience to have a break from my routine, embark on my first solo mission across the world, and visit a place I had never been.  
 
 
 

The convergence took place in Gilwell Park, Essex outside of London.  The location backed up to the ancient Epping forest.  I cannot describe how beautiful, lush and green this place is. I had never seen anything like it, a truly WILD food forest.
 

ancient tree in Epping forest


 
Almost every other tree was laden with fruit; blackberries, many varieties of crab apples, sloes, and brilliant red hawthorn berries. We were fortunate to have a proper tour through the forest by a local naturalist.  


abundance of sloes everywhere, a type of fruit used primarily for jam and whisky making



pop up cafe


 
Outside our dorm we had a cool little pop up cafĂ© serving drinks with ingredients and spices from around the world.  My first night I ordered a hot drink with hazelnut butter, umboshi plum and miso all whisked up and frothy, like a savory latte.  Really unique and sooo good.
 
Some highlights of the permaculture convergence, and topics I gained knowledge about...
 
-Drought proofing
-Lots of perennial food forest ideas
-More about Holistic Management and planned grazing
-Amazing permaculture project in Palestine (Marda Farms in the west bank)
-SUPER cool biochar demo with Ed Revill- soil carbon regeneration (I had no idea biochar has so many uses!
 -Dry land small farming ideas
-Small farm market gardening with the Bookman's, The Food Forest Farm in Australia
 
making biochar
Unfortunately my experience was not all enjoyable.  I was pretty shocked, disappointed and pained to see that at an INTERNATIONAL permaculture convergence with over 600 people attending, there were very few people of color attending or speaking.  Mind you, permaculture is supposed to be about diversity since Diversity = Resilience!  I definitely had some old traumas come up and got very triggered around the lack of diversity piece.  (Ok yes I was in England but still...)  The positive element that came out of it for me was that I was able to use my voice and speak up about my feelings and articulate the need for diversity and why. 
 
Lessons I learned through my observations and interactions at the convergence...
-Beware of ego!  (Yes, some permies have huge egos!)
-Don't talk-Listen
-Humble yourself there is something to learn in every situation
-Change has to start from within, set your right intentions
-Be clear and focused, work hard and don't give up-Don't slack!
-Step up and move out of your comfort zone- Be yourself- Who You Truly Are
-There is NO place in life for fear
-Understand the microcosm (the self) in order to know the macrocosm (the universe)
-As we heal ourselves the earth will heal. 

 
 

The second week of my visit I traveled to see friends in Cornwall (southwest, aka the English Riviera).  We visited traditional gardens, the sea side and did very British things like drink elderflower bubbly.  We also spent a couple of days walking around London, site seeing and shopping (at a great Buddhist thrift store called Lama's Pyjamas, LOL!).  




All in all I had an enlightening trip.  Travel is always eye opening and so good at being a catalyst for expansion and growth.  Stay tuned for the next epic adventure.  In gratitude and until next time, Many Blessings...

 

 
 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Grounding Back In...The Spiral

We are a circle within a circle with no beginning and never ending...

rooftop photo of the spiral garden at Grow Bio-intensive Agriculture Kenya

Greetings of Peace and Love!  It has been many months since I've written, so much has happened.  I have had the profound opportunity and gift to go on several life changing adventures, travel around the world, visit some AMAZING farming projects, meet many inspiring people, make life long friends, start a new business and learn a whole lot about myself and the creation.  I am excited to share so much information I have picked up along the way, much more than can be shared in a single blog post.  So the next few posts will be full of pictures, ideas, and inspiration from my journey.  I pray that you enjoy.  And that there is something new and inspiring for everyone who reads.  As always, we are sending and channeling love and healing light to you all, above and below like mycelium running through the veins of Mother Earth!  Many Blessings..

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Forging Farmers: Celebrating Women Transforming the Food System

Last week I had the pleasure of participating in this wonderful event hosted by MESA, the Multinational Exchange for Sustainable Agriculture. What a privilege to be part of a panel of such amazing women working diligently to build more resilient food systems around the world. 

The panelists were all so different and accomplished including the fiery Joelci Dannacene, a militant organizer with The Landless Rural Workers Movement of Brazil and Myriam Kaplan-Pasternak, owner of Devil's Gulch Ranch in Marin, founder and director of HaitiCoffee.com, Inc and a USAID Farmer to Farmer volunteer in Haiti and El Salvador with Partners of the Americas, Winrock International and HaitiCoffee.  The panel also included Clara Nicholls, a lecturer in the Latin American Studies Program at UC Berkeley, teaching "Perspectives for Sustainable Rural Development in Latin America" and president of the Latin American Scientific Society of Agroecology, as well as, Shu-Chen Cheng, a beginning small-scale farmer from Taiwan who hopes to educate farmers in sustainable methods, and share with her community the importance of supporting local farmers.

Not only was the conversation inspiring and stimulating, the homemade Puerto Rican tapas were off the hook!  Thank you MESA for including me in this uplifting evening, I am honored and excited to collaborate further in the future!


Thursday, February 26, 2015

All About Nettles

  
 
 
Last weekend we ventured out to Marin for our All About Nettles class.  The weather was amazing, a perfect day to experience Lady Nettle in all her glory.  We hiked out to our favorite foraging spot and sat in a circle to discuss identification, how and when to harvest, nutrients, medicinal uses, energetic influences, preserving, recipes, companion plants and cultivation.  Then we visited the many different nettle communities to pay our respects and harvest this nourishing plant ally. Along the way students also gathered young fiddle head ferns to sautĂ© for their evening meal and fresh cleavers to juice as a tonic for allergies and eczema. 
 
 
The week of a nettle harvest is always special, filled with fresh sparkling juiced nettles, delicious nettle soup, nettle quiche or frittata, green smoothies, then bundles and bundles of nettle leaves hanging in the kitchen to dry.  This year our preservation method of choice is to dry and powder as many of the leaves as possible and freeze them in small bags to use through out the year as our own local, deep green super food (in place of spirulina and chlorella). 
 


 
Herbalist Michael Moore says in his book Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West…"Nettle powder is something  that you can gather yourself in places that you trust, and you can add it to smoothies and salad dressings, put it in your bread, add it to tea, home beer, and so forth.  It is green food your body recognizes, and can help build blood, tissue, and self-empowerment.” 

Definitely our number one go to herb for extra nutrition and nourishment when we are stressed or depleted, an easily absorbable form of iron, vegetable protein, spring cleansing and so much more.  Thank you lovely nettles!
 
 *pictures taken by Amelia Avila