Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Autumn in the Farm & Garden: Vermicomposting and Honeybees
Photo Credit: Vera Lin

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.

Vermicomposting is the product of composting using various species of worms to create a mixture of decomposing vegetable or food waste, bedding materials, and vermicast. Vermicast is the end-product of the breakdown of organic matter by earthworms. At Esalen, red wigglers are the star of this agricultural show. They reside on the top four-six inches of soil in a four-by 16-foot compost box with a grated bottom, raised above ground.

“We run our vegetable waste from the kitchen through our normal compost process called aerobic thermophilic compost,” says Chris Omer, Esalen Farm & Garden Farm Supervisor. “Placing the vegetable waste straight into the bin would create temperatures too hot for the worms.”

When piles cool down to 105 degrees, farm staff adds a three-four-inch layer into the worm bins weekly. Once harvesting begins, which typically takes about 16 weeks, 40-50 gallons of vermicomposting can be harvested weekly. Some of the benefits include enhanced biodiversity and increased micronutrient value of the soil with calcium, magnesium and sulfur, which act as a superfood for plants.

How does vermicomposting compare to traditional composting? “Both are valuable,” Chris says, however, “worm castings take the composted material to another level and some of this finished product goes into our seed-starting mix for the greenhouse, some into the field, and some will be available for sale through the bookstore in the new year.”

Meanwhile, above ground, other creative things are buzzing—literally.

Photo Credit: Doug Ellis

Bees will always be vital to the Farm & Garden’s unique ecosystem, where pollination is needed for plants to reproduce. At Esalen, bees reside in three hives on-site, two of which are the traditional box-like langstroth hives, the other a flow hive.

“The flow hive is an experiment for us and the next wave in bee hives,” Chris says. “You can acquire the honey through a tap so you don't need to remove the frame. The benefit for the bees is that it’s less disturbing for them during harvest. We're not taking too much honey out so they can have enough for winter.”

Currently the bees have a radius of about two miles at Esalen. The long-term goal is to have eight to 10 hives and a landscaped area of different flowers to support the bee population.

In other bee-related news, there’s an intriguing class offered through one of Esalen’s Experiential Programs called The Hive and the Hum. The class allows seminarians to experience bees first-hand in a group setting and better understand their frequency.

Honeybee Guardian Deva Munay will explain the significance of sacred sound frequencies and Esalen’s apiary and how these aspects are interwoven. Afterward, she guides seminarians in meditation using a variety of instruments including modern alchemy crystal singing bowls.

“These instruments embody sacred sound so that participants can tune into a unified state of heightened awareness prior to visiting the apiary,” Deva says. “This allows us to approach the hives in a state of reverence and respect, just like receiving Darshan from a spiritual master. This is important because honeybees attune to their environment through vibrations and frequency, and enables us to learn from them.”

Experience The Hive and the Hum from 2-3 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at the Buddha Garden, adjacent to the main lawn. Check the Experiential Program menu posted in the dining hall for up-to-date schedules.

Photo Credit: Vera Lin



“Remembering to be as self compassionate as I can and praying to the divine that we're all a part of.” 
–Aaron

“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
–Karen
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
–Charles
“Try on a daily basis to be kind to myself and to realize that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. Learning from our mistakes is a journey. But it starts with compassion and caring. First for oneself.”
–Steve

“Physically: aerobic exercise, volleyball, ice hockey, cycling, sailing. Emotionally: unfortunately I have to work to ‘not care’ about people or situations which may end painfully. Along the lines of ‘attachment is the source of suffering’, so best to avoid it or limit its scope. Sad though because it could also be the source of great joy. Is it worth the risk?“
–Rainer

“It's time for my heart to be nurtured on one level yet contained on another. To go easy on me and to allow my feelings to be validated, not judged harshly. On the other hand, to let the heart rule with equanimity and not lead the mind and body around like a master.”
–Suzanne

“I spend time thinking of everything I am grateful for, and I try to develop my ability to express compassion for myself and others without reservation. I take time to do the things I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. This includes taking experiential workshops, fostering relationships, and participating within groups which have a similar interest to become a more compassionate and fulfilled being.“
–Peter

“Self-forgiveness for my own judgments. And oh yeah, coming to Esalen.”
–David B.

“Hmm, this is a tough one! I guess I take care of my heart through fostering relationships with people I feel connected to. Spending quality time with them (whether we're on the phone, through messages/letters, on Zoom, or in-person). Being there for them, listening to them, sharing what's going on with me, my struggles and my successes... like we do in the Esalen weekly Friends of Esalen Zoom sessions!”
–Lori

“I remind myself in many ways of the fact that " Love is all there is!" LOVE is the prize and this one precious life is the stage we get to learn our lessons. I get out into nature, hike, camp, river kayak, fly fish, garden, I create, I dance (not enough!), and I remain grateful for each day, each breath, each moment. Being in the moment, awake, and remembering the gift of life and my feeling of gratitude for all of creation.”
–Steven
“My physical heart by limiting stress and eating a heart-healthy diet. My emotional heart by staying in love with the world and by knowing that all disappointment and loss will pass.“
–David Z.


Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Strike up a conversation with your own heart and as you feel comfortable, encourage others to do the same. As part of our own transformations and self-care, we sometimes ask for others to illuminate and enliven our hearts or speak our love language.

What if we could do this for ourselves too, even if just for today… or to start a heart practice, forever?



About

Esalen Team

Autumn in the Farm & Garden:
Vermicomposting and Honeybees

About

Esalen Team

Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Photo Credit: Vera Lin

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.

Vermicomposting is the product of composting using various species of worms to create a mixture of decomposing vegetable or food waste, bedding materials, and vermicast. Vermicast is the end-product of the breakdown of organic matter by earthworms. At Esalen, red wigglers are the star of this agricultural show. They reside on the top four-six inches of soil in a four-by 16-foot compost box with a grated bottom, raised above ground.

“We run our vegetable waste from the kitchen through our normal compost process called aerobic thermophilic compost,” says Chris Omer, Esalen Farm & Garden Farm Supervisor. “Placing the vegetable waste straight into the bin would create temperatures too hot for the worms.”

When piles cool down to 105 degrees, farm staff adds a three-four-inch layer into the worm bins weekly. Once harvesting begins, which typically takes about 16 weeks, 40-50 gallons of vermicomposting can be harvested weekly. Some of the benefits include enhanced biodiversity and increased micronutrient value of the soil with calcium, magnesium and sulfur, which act as a superfood for plants.

How does vermicomposting compare to traditional composting? “Both are valuable,” Chris says, however, “worm castings take the composted material to another level and some of this finished product goes into our seed-starting mix for the greenhouse, some into the field, and some will be available for sale through the bookstore in the new year.”

Meanwhile, above ground, other creative things are buzzing—literally.

Photo Credit: Doug Ellis

Bees will always be vital to the Farm & Garden’s unique ecosystem, where pollination is needed for plants to reproduce. At Esalen, bees reside in three hives on-site, two of which are the traditional box-like langstroth hives, the other a flow hive.

“The flow hive is an experiment for us and the next wave in bee hives,” Chris says. “You can acquire the honey through a tap so you don't need to remove the frame. The benefit for the bees is that it’s less disturbing for them during harvest. We're not taking too much honey out so they can have enough for winter.”

Currently the bees have a radius of about two miles at Esalen. The long-term goal is to have eight to 10 hives and a landscaped area of different flowers to support the bee population.

In other bee-related news, there’s an intriguing class offered through one of Esalen’s Experiential Programs called The Hive and the Hum. The class allows seminarians to experience bees first-hand in a group setting and better understand their frequency.

Honeybee Guardian Deva Munay will explain the significance of sacred sound frequencies and Esalen’s apiary and how these aspects are interwoven. Afterward, she guides seminarians in meditation using a variety of instruments including modern alchemy crystal singing bowls.

“These instruments embody sacred sound so that participants can tune into a unified state of heightened awareness prior to visiting the apiary,” Deva says. “This allows us to approach the hives in a state of reverence and respect, just like receiving Darshan from a spiritual master. This is important because honeybees attune to their environment through vibrations and frequency, and enables us to learn from them.”

Experience The Hive and the Hum from 2-3 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at the Buddha Garden, adjacent to the main lawn. Check the Experiential Program menu posted in the dining hall for up-to-date schedules.

Photo Credit: Vera Lin



“Remembering to be as self compassionate as I can and praying to the divine that we're all a part of.” 
–Aaron

“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
–Karen
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
–Charles
“Try on a daily basis to be kind to myself and to realize that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. Learning from our mistakes is a journey. But it starts with compassion and caring. First for oneself.”
–Steve

“Physically: aerobic exercise, volleyball, ice hockey, cycling, sailing. Emotionally: unfortunately I have to work to ‘not care’ about people or situations which may end painfully. Along the lines of ‘attachment is the source of suffering’, so best to avoid it or limit its scope. Sad though because it could also be the source of great joy. Is it worth the risk?“
–Rainer

“It's time for my heart to be nurtured on one level yet contained on another. To go easy on me and to allow my feelings to be validated, not judged harshly. On the other hand, to let the heart rule with equanimity and not lead the mind and body around like a master.”
–Suzanne

“I spend time thinking of everything I am grateful for, and I try to develop my ability to express compassion for myself and others without reservation. I take time to do the things I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. This includes taking experiential workshops, fostering relationships, and participating within groups which have a similar interest to become a more compassionate and fulfilled being.“
–Peter

“Self-forgiveness for my own judgments. And oh yeah, coming to Esalen.”
–David B.

“Hmm, this is a tough one! I guess I take care of my heart through fostering relationships with people I feel connected to. Spending quality time with them (whether we're on the phone, through messages/letters, on Zoom, or in-person). Being there for them, listening to them, sharing what's going on with me, my struggles and my successes... like we do in the Esalen weekly Friends of Esalen Zoom sessions!”
–Lori

“I remind myself in many ways of the fact that " Love is all there is!" LOVE is the prize and this one precious life is the stage we get to learn our lessons. I get out into nature, hike, camp, river kayak, fly fish, garden, I create, I dance (not enough!), and I remain grateful for each day, each breath, each moment. Being in the moment, awake, and remembering the gift of life and my feeling of gratitude for all of creation.”
–Steven
“My physical heart by limiting stress and eating a heart-healthy diet. My emotional heart by staying in love with the world and by knowing that all disappointment and loss will pass.“
–David Z.


Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Strike up a conversation with your own heart and as you feel comfortable, encourage others to do the same. As part of our own transformations and self-care, we sometimes ask for others to illuminate and enliven our hearts or speak our love language.

What if we could do this for ourselves too, even if just for today… or to start a heart practice, forever?



About

Esalen Team

Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Autumn in the Farm & Garden: Vermicomposting and Honeybees

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About

Esalen Team

Autumn in the Farm & Garden:
Vermicomposting and Honeybees

About

Esalen Team

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