Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Cross Pollination Across the Generations: Food Movement Leaders Renew at Esalen

Regeneration, rebirth, resilience, revival, relationship… Elders and youngers of the farming persuasion circled round for a week of connecting and spinning yarns around these themes and more late January at Esalen. These agrarians, like anyone else involved in the burgeoning food movement, fuel their work with a passion for creating positive change that ripples outward and effects virtually every big issue we as a species currently grapple with: climate change, world peace, social justice, biodiversity, physical, spiritual, and mental health… the list goes on.

“The worst mistakes in human history (social and environmental) were created by agriculture,” elder agrarian Tom Willey of T&D Willey Farms in California shared with the group, referencing both Jared Diamond, author of Collapse, and Wendell Berry, author of Our Only World. “Our biggest problems,” he paraphrased, “are our solutions.”

Slow Money representative Woody Tasch, who joined the group from Colorado, professed in his closing remarks: “I spend my time interfacing between the world of fast money and this world. I see this as THE peace movement – entrepreneurship, humility, and a reverence for nature.”

The Agrarian Elders and Youngers conference at Esalen was predicated on the understanding that to sustain any culture (agrarian and otherwise) requires an adequate exchange of knowledge, resources, and stewardship responsibilities across the generations. What better metaphor to be found than that of our pollinators, whom we depend on for the continuation of plant life we call food.

“The Monarchs! It takes three to four generations for them to go from their summer ground to their winter ground, to finish their journey, to reach their destination,” said Clara Coleman, farmer-daughter to a well-known farmer-author from Maine, Elliot Coleman. “Here, in this room, we have three generations of farmers. We all hold memories from the last generation, and we move forward with that knowledge.”

“The foundation of our food system and farming practices are much deeper than our plows,” Esalen Garden Supervisor Dan Phelps acknowledged. “Learning from our elders includes honoring the indigenous people who were on this land before us and the way that they related to the food.” Nodding at the two Native Americans in the room he grinned, “When I think about hope for the future, I think about you.”

Conference participants held space to both celebrate the blessings of their work and to lament and even grieve the losses. “Peak Everything” was one such agenda topic, with both a fruitful exchange of ideas about how to be more impactful parts of the solution and a recognition of the weightiness of the problems. Today’s growers must adapt to producing food in more extreme climates, with declining water availability, on damaged or adulterated soils, for populations that may have little or no connection to or understanding of their food sources.

While technical knowledge, theories, and strategies were useful, many participants felt the most useful tool shared was the deepening of relationships and connections among them. Their imperative in organizing future events like this is to continue to expand the circle to welcome in more diversity. “If humanity will supersede the challenge we have over the next few decades it will be by coming together, not pushing apart,” said Tom Willey in his closing remarks.

Nearly 30 agrarians participated in the conference, representing farms from New York, Maine and Vermont to Oklahoma, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington.

participants of the 2016 Gathering of Agrarian Elders conference outside the Murphy House at Esalen.

“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

Cross Pollination Across the Generations: Food Movement Leaders Renew at Esalen

About

Esalen Team

Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop

Regeneration, rebirth, resilience, revival, relationship… Elders and youngers of the farming persuasion circled round for a week of connecting and spinning yarns around these themes and more late January at Esalen. These agrarians, like anyone else involved in the burgeoning food movement, fuel their work with a passion for creating positive change that ripples outward and effects virtually every big issue we as a species currently grapple with: climate change, world peace, social justice, biodiversity, physical, spiritual, and mental health… the list goes on.

“The worst mistakes in human history (social and environmental) were created by agriculture,” elder agrarian Tom Willey of T&D Willey Farms in California shared with the group, referencing both Jared Diamond, author of Collapse, and Wendell Berry, author of Our Only World. “Our biggest problems,” he paraphrased, “are our solutions.”

Slow Money representative Woody Tasch, who joined the group from Colorado, professed in his closing remarks: “I spend my time interfacing between the world of fast money and this world. I see this as THE peace movement – entrepreneurship, humility, and a reverence for nature.”

The Agrarian Elders and Youngers conference at Esalen was predicated on the understanding that to sustain any culture (agrarian and otherwise) requires an adequate exchange of knowledge, resources, and stewardship responsibilities across the generations. What better metaphor to be found than that of our pollinators, whom we depend on for the continuation of plant life we call food.

“The Monarchs! It takes three to four generations for them to go from their summer ground to their winter ground, to finish their journey, to reach their destination,” said Clara Coleman, farmer-daughter to a well-known farmer-author from Maine, Elliot Coleman. “Here, in this room, we have three generations of farmers. We all hold memories from the last generation, and we move forward with that knowledge.”

“The foundation of our food system and farming practices are much deeper than our plows,” Esalen Garden Supervisor Dan Phelps acknowledged. “Learning from our elders includes honoring the indigenous people who were on this land before us and the way that they related to the food.” Nodding at the two Native Americans in the room he grinned, “When I think about hope for the future, I think about you.”

Conference participants held space to both celebrate the blessings of their work and to lament and even grieve the losses. “Peak Everything” was one such agenda topic, with both a fruitful exchange of ideas about how to be more impactful parts of the solution and a recognition of the weightiness of the problems. Today’s growers must adapt to producing food in more extreme climates, with declining water availability, on damaged or adulterated soils, for populations that may have little or no connection to or understanding of their food sources.

While technical knowledge, theories, and strategies were useful, many participants felt the most useful tool shared was the deepening of relationships and connections among them. Their imperative in organizing future events like this is to continue to expand the circle to welcome in more diversity. “If humanity will supersede the challenge we have over the next few decades it will be by coming together, not pushing apart,” said Tom Willey in his closing remarks.

Nearly 30 agrarians participated in the conference, representing farms from New York, Maine and Vermont to Oklahoma, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington.

participants of the 2016 Gathering of Agrarian Elders conference outside the Murphy House at Esalen.

“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
Cross Pollination Across the Generations: Food Movement Leaders Renew at Esalen

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About

Esalen Team

Cross Pollination Across the Generations: Food Movement Leaders Renew at Esalen

About

Esalen Team

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