Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Creating a Vision for the Season Ahead: Spring in the Farm & Garden

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.

“On the land, spring is an exercise in patience,” says Farm Supervisor Chris Omer. “We can’t force anything. It’s a conversation with the elements, and those forces let us know when we can proceed.”

For one thing, the soil has been saturated with water. Any tilling would further compact the soil structure, which can reduce crop productivity. Day length is another factor that can’t be rushed. “In our climate with no frost, we can plant things anytime, but the crops will grow a lot slower right now because of shorter day length and less light,” Chris shares. “We could wait a month and those plants would catch up and maybe even overtake what we plant now.” To some extent, farmers are staying off the fields until the weather clears.

While they wait for things to dry out, Esalen farmers are tending to herbs and cover crops, loading seed trays with peppers, onions and tomatoes, and dreaming up new ideas. “The Farm & Garden is a collaborative creative project with staff, residential students and volunteers, and right now we have a blank canvas,” says Esalen farmer Candice Isphording. “This time of year is about visioning: seeing into the future, seeing what we want to happen in summer and fall. Spring is an exciting new beginning.”

This year, one new vision taking shape involves a much larger strawberry crop than in the past. According to the California Strawberry Commission, 88% of the strawberries produced in the U.S. are grown in coastal California. Last year, almost 50% of California strawberries were grown on the central coast, in Watsonville and Salinas — the same region as Esalen.

“Growing strawberries here connects us to the agricultural traditions of this area,” says Garden Supervisor Beth Burzynski. “Up until recently, we couldn’t get organic strawberry plant starts, but this year we found a provider so we’re planting strawberries in much higher quantities,” Beth continues.

The larger strawberry crop is also an opportunity to implement sustainable fertilizing and growing practices. “We’re experimenting with mustard seed meal as a natural organic fertilizer and biofumigant, and we’re using biodegradable mulch instead of plastics,” says Beth. “We’re excited to deliver more strawberries to the Esalen Kitchen so our community can enjoy them straight off the plant.”

For all who come to Esalen, the rains are harbingers of spring and an opportunity to pause and envision new ways forward. For Esalen farmers, that’s a multidimensional process that incorporates developments in organic and chemical-free farming to grow the most delicious strawberries available.

“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

Creating a Vision for the Season Ahead:
Spring in the Farm & Garden

About

Esalen Team

Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop

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.

“On the land, spring is an exercise in patience,” says Farm Supervisor Chris Omer. “We can’t force anything. It’s a conversation with the elements, and those forces let us know when we can proceed.”

For one thing, the soil has been saturated with water. Any tilling would further compact the soil structure, which can reduce crop productivity. Day length is another factor that can’t be rushed. “In our climate with no frost, we can plant things anytime, but the crops will grow a lot slower right now because of shorter day length and less light,” Chris shares. “We could wait a month and those plants would catch up and maybe even overtake what we plant now.” To some extent, farmers are staying off the fields until the weather clears.

While they wait for things to dry out, Esalen farmers are tending to herbs and cover crops, loading seed trays with peppers, onions and tomatoes, and dreaming up new ideas. “The Farm & Garden is a collaborative creative project with staff, residential students and volunteers, and right now we have a blank canvas,” says Esalen farmer Candice Isphording. “This time of year is about visioning: seeing into the future, seeing what we want to happen in summer and fall. Spring is an exciting new beginning.”

This year, one new vision taking shape involves a much larger strawberry crop than in the past. According to the California Strawberry Commission, 88% of the strawberries produced in the U.S. are grown in coastal California. Last year, almost 50% of California strawberries were grown on the central coast, in Watsonville and Salinas — the same region as Esalen.

“Growing strawberries here connects us to the agricultural traditions of this area,” says Garden Supervisor Beth Burzynski. “Up until recently, we couldn’t get organic strawberry plant starts, but this year we found a provider so we’re planting strawberries in much higher quantities,” Beth continues.

The larger strawberry crop is also an opportunity to implement sustainable fertilizing and growing practices. “We’re experimenting with mustard seed meal as a natural organic fertilizer and biofumigant, and we’re using biodegradable mulch instead of plastics,” says Beth. “We’re excited to deliver more strawberries to the Esalen Kitchen so our community can enjoy them straight off the plant.”

For all who come to Esalen, the rains are harbingers of spring and an opportunity to pause and envision new ways forward. For Esalen farmers, that’s a multidimensional process that incorporates developments in organic and chemical-free farming to grow the most delicious strawberries available.

“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

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