Earth Medicine in the City
This past Spring I was lucky enough to connect with one of the most inspirational entrepreneurs in Toronto - her name is Kat Gibson, and she just so happens to be the coolest, earthy, wise, and warmest being (like, ever). Immediately drawn to her intelligence on all things garden-related when we met at an education dinner event she was speaking at, I was intrigued at the Lady Gaia program she described...
Fast forward a few months, and I'm now a member of the 2017 Embodied Connections modules (Spring, Summer and Fall), and my life has already began to completely transform in all of the best ways. Learning how to create and tend to a garden, plant and grow my own food, meditate while harnessing the power of Mother Earth, and connect with other beautiful souls - there are not enough kind words to use to describe this program.
Luckily, Kat is also kind of a gem when it comes to words, so I'll let her take it from here...
What's your main goal and intention for the Embodied Connections program?
My main intention for the program is to connect participants to the Earth, the elements and their inherent gifts and create a space, with the collaborators/facilitators that I'm teaming up with, so that they might deepen their sense of the interrelationship between Nature, Self, Community, the body and their well-being. The more practical goal is to practice cultivating the garden, nurturing the soil, the plants, all life in the garden, including ourselves, developing an understanding of the process of growing organic food and some of your own medicine.
What has been your greatest learning since connecting with the earth?
Mmmm… the healing, regenerative power of the earth. The first full season of farming 7 years ago, I experienced a new sense of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. I’d been in a cycling accident a year earlier and was very much in a phase of my life where there was a lot of dissolving and breaking down. Now I see how that phase, the death phase is about making space for a phase of re-birthing and regenerating, that the death/decomposing feeds a new phase. Those cycles and phases of nature are powerful reflections. More tangibly, the regular time spent outdoors, the deepened connection to food, my body and the Earth all really shifted things for me. The sense of empowerment that came with nurturing plants from seed or seedling to harvest was a pretty incredible experience and it felt like a channel that was full of static was becoming more clear.
During that first growing season I (re)discovered ritual, started practicing yoga and breathwork, meditation and received my first reiki attunement. I met such magical, inspiring people (teachers, friends) who seemed to arrive at the most perfect time. Initially I was drawn into growing food from an understanding that our food and health care system are, well, broken in many ways and what I found, through weaving in these practices, was an aliveness, a feeling of vitality, joy and a sense of magic and wonder in relationship to the Earth. I fell in love. Although that sense of living amidst deep changes and systems breakdown is still part of my awareness and what motivates me to work towards something different and participate in creating new systems, structures and community. My heart feels more connected to these phases and stages of my/our evolutionary process as a species, this shift that we're in, which can be heavy, grief-filled and painful some moments and vibrant, light and joyous in others - full spectrum life. I want to continue to wake up to vibrancy and aliveness and I sense that as individuals, we can do this in so many ways, through where we place our attention. I feel like it’s this amazing discovery (which also feels ancient) that we can tune into earth consciousness no matter where we are to experience that grounded aliveness, a vibration that can sooth the nervous system in times of stress and connect to something that holds us beyond ourselves as individuals.
The most underrated secret to successful farming (and what does "successful" farming even really mean - in your eyes)?
Nourish the whole ecosystem... Nurture and build your soil by using lots of organic matter (compost, compost tea, mulches, living mulches) and add amendments like seaweed fertilizer which are packed full of proteins, complex carbohydrates, minerals and trace elements including calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, iodine and magnesium. Plant a diversity of plants and flowers to invite in the pollinators.
I like to call in the nature spirits, the elementals and garden devas as guides and protectors. They're part of the ecosystem and support us in our process.
For beginner gardeners, what's 1 thing to keep in mind as you're starting out?
There's a lot of information out there so it can be easy to feel overwhelmed about where to start or how to grow some of your own vegetables, herbs, flowers. I like to encourage people to keep in mind that it's all an experiment and a practice, that it can be fun and you'll just keep learning as you go, year after year, until you’re 100. A great place to start is growing culinary herbs, lettuce or kale. Enjoy the process and the joy of harvesting and eating what you've grown.
All real-world obstacles and constraints aside, what does your dream day look like?
Ohhhhh... fun question! Time spent in the garden with the plants, teaching/facilitating learning experiences and rituals, interviewing people, writing, cooking and sharing meals with beloveds, dancing, yoga, meditation, energy work practice, ocean or lake swimming... it feels like a lot of creating, nourishing, integrating the light/shadow and loving.
Final tid-bit: YES this program can seem a bit "airy fairy" as it incorporates elements of meditation, alternative medicine and healing practices, holistic nutrition, and even more "hippie granola" stuff your conservative aunt might not resonate with right away. WITH THAT SAID: Kat delivers all of this education in a way that is remarkably grounded, rooted in science and experience as well as traditional ancient practices, and presents offerings that are yours to discover and interpret in whatever way you feel comfortable with. It is simply that: an offering for you to explore (with some very powerful, wise, yet kind community support) - rather than a "lesson" you are expected to pick up right away.