Sustainability
Water is Sacred at Esalen
June 1, 2015

Esalen has been considered a place of sacred waters for thousands of years. Here, three water sources converge to heal and nourish the web of all life. The canyon stream that cascades through the Esalen property is fed by a spring that provides us with water for our daily use. The hot springs are heated by the earth’s inner fires, and this water is a source of both healing and energy. The ocean here is pristine, wild, and remote. This section of the pacific coastline is a haven for wild life, including sea otters, birds, and fisheries.

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Farm & Garden’s Success Starts with Soil
December 1, 2015

Ask any organic farmer or gardener the key to growing healthy crops and they will reply with some variant of the phrase: “Start with the soil.” Abundant, healthy crops are truly an outgrowth of vibrant soil ecology; with the exception of oxygen and carbon (which plants absorb from the air), plants uptake all of the nutrients they need to build stems, leaves, flowers, and fruits from the soil through their root systems. In order for plants to thrive, it is essential that they have access to all the requisite building blocks for their development, such as nitrogen, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, calcium, and sodium. Trillions of microorganisms live in every handful of healthy soil, and these microorganisms effectively “store” nutrients in their bodies until they die, at which time those nutrients become available for the plants in their subterranean neighborhood.

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Grow Food, Change the World
January 1, 2016

Food is a powerful tool for change. So much of who we are relates to it. As a species, major benchmarks in our evolution are linked to changes in our relationship with food.

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Sounding the Drumbeat for a Sustainable Relationship Between People and Planet
February 1, 2016

What if the building you worked in was designed to optimize your health and wellbeing while also producing enough renewable energy to meet its own annual energy consumption requirements? The latter is the definition of a zero energy (or net zero) building. The number of zero energy commercial buildings has doubled from 2012 to 2014, according to the New Buildings Institute, and speaks to a growing awareness of a different approach to building design.

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A Changing Landscape
April 1, 2016

Years ago, visitors to the area where the Esalen Lodge now stands would have been greeted by a landscape of northern coastal scrub and sage scrub – much of it subsequently cleared for cattle grazing. What they wouldn’t have seen, according to Esalen Grounds Manager Christina Dauenhauer, were pine trees.

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A Farming Family
July 1, 2016

In early 2008, Cole Cottin and Dan Phelps were invited to visit Esalen’s Farm & Garden as part of a larger group of farm apprentices from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Eight years, and two children later, the UC Santa Cruz graduates left their home in Kansas to return to the West Coast to become the farming family in residence at Esalen.

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Experiencing the Farm & Garden for a Day
September 1, 2016

Every year, hundreds of volunteers come through the Farm & Garden to open their hearts and minds while getting their hands a little (or sometimes a lot) dirty in land that has been thoughtfully cultivated for more than 40 years. The volunteer program is a wonderful way to experience Esalen for a day by working closely with our Farm & Garden staff in the morning, and then having the afternoon free to walk the grounds, take a soak in the baths, and even stay for dinner in the newly restored Lodge.

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Sowing the Seeds of Curiosity and Joy
March 1, 2018

For decades, Esalen's Farm and Garden has offered students a rich forum for experiential learning. This tradition continued recently when Farm and Garden Manager Thomas Leahy along with Chris Omer and Neil Howe welcomed high school students from Marin Academy for a day visit to Esalen.

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Autumn Abundance Above and Below the Ground
November 1, 2018

Given Big Sur’s mild coastal climate, signs of autumn in the Esalen Farm & Garden can be subtle. Yes, there are tables of winter squash curing in the sun, but all around them are bins of ripe tomatoes, rows of strawberries and innumerable bright flowers buzzing with insect life.

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Creating a Vision for the Season Ahead: Spring in the Farm & Garden
April 1, 2019

Here in coastal California, heavy rains characterize the winter months. This year, they extended well into March, which has influenced spring activities in the Farm & Garden. In addition to harvesting overwintered greens and planting trays of seed starts, Esalen farmers have been cultivating one of the intangible qualities at the heart of sustainable agriculture.

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Autumn in the Farm & Garden: Vermicomposting and Honeybees
September 1, 2019

Small yet significant creatures play such an integral part of Esalen Farm & Garden’s mindful process of growing plants and fresh vegetables that without their presence, the Esalen community would be significantly affected. As fall draws near, the Farm & Garden shared their knowledge about vermicomposting and honeybees, both of which contribute to greater good.

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Creating Community with The Four Winds Council
September 1, 2019

For more than 35 years, The Four Winds Council in Big Sur has offered itself in service to protect the Ventana Wilderness and support the Big Sur community. Esalen Institute makes up one-fourth of the Council, which includes New Camaldoli Hermitage, The Esselen Tribe of Monterey County and Tassajara Zen Mountain Center. ‍

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Self-Care for the Field
October 1, 2019

Just as humans benefit from taking time for rest and personal self-care, so do the land and plants at the Esalen Farm & Garden. This is vibrantly visible during the fall months, where cover crops act as a universal metaphor for healthy living.

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Relational Agriculture at Esalen
November 1, 2019

Three times a week, just after breakfast, as the sunbeams begin to brighten Esalen’s Farm & Garden, and the butterflies, honey bees, and hummingbirds engage in a cosmic dance of life, the Farm & Garden staff meets in another symbiotic process. It’s known as Relational Agriculture and it’s a rich and vibrant example of the powerful ripple effects that can occur when we “come together” with intention.

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Springtime in the Farm & Garden
March 1, 2020

Springtime arrived early this year in the Farm & Garden with warmer weather in February. And while staff hold out for March rains, the landscape offers a surprisingly colorful story to savor.

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Springtime Inspiration From Esalen’s Farm & Garden
April 1, 2020

Spring is normally a time for optimism in the Esalen Farm & Garden, and despite the current uncertainty in our world, Farm & Garden Supervisor Chris Omer prepares soil beds with the trust that seeds will take root. “In farming, we’re always faced with uncertainty beyond our control based on weather, pests, access to water, disease and more,” Chris says. “But with COVID-19, we still are determined to grow as much food for our community as possible while adjusting our plans when needed according to this ever-changing world.”

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Springtime and the Wonder of Microgreens
May 1, 2020

“There is a great deal of talk about gardens right now and the importance of creating our own self-sufficient food source during these uncertain times,” says Esalen Farm Supervisor Chris Omer. “Gardens can be a cathartic place for healing and reflection. They can open up spaces for personal creativity, curiosity about the natural world around us, collaboration with others and play.”

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Founded in 1962, Esalen is non-profit center for exploring and realizing human potential through experience, education, and research. Esalen is a pioneer on the leading edge of consciousness, where spiritual possibility, intellectual rigor, somatic practice and sustainable living converge toward an integrated realization of the human potential. Esalen sponsors pioneering initiatives and offers personal, spiritual, and social transformation practices for workshop participants, residential staff and interns. Located on California’s scenic Big Sur Coast, Esalen welcomes more than 17,000 visitors each year.