Sown.

Since the election, I have been writing daily tips on twitter, on the concept of gardening as a form of protest. Historically, we have seen that putting our money towards sustainability, organics, equality and small-business is a vote for a more efficient, just and healthy system of living . There are many avenues to support these causes, and for my companies, we start with sowing seeds, selling and giving our crops and educating people on how to grow their own food and medicine. 

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With the recent rains this February, the ground has been considerably swollen, dark and teeming weeds. I let a couple weeks go by without tracking the weather too strictly, and without a planting plan. On the third week, I got strategic on what I should plant at the farm on the next available dry day. Last Sunday I got that day; warm, dry and not even a breeze - perfect for sowing small seeds. I tilled up some crud rows in different sunny locations all over the property, since perfection is never something I strive for in farming. I churned up the soil, pulled away the larger weeds and broadcasted thousands of organic seeds. All bought from small, organic farmers, I look forward to these plants growing into something beautiful, profitable for my companies and abundant enough to share for free. It's been a while since I've farmed flowers, so I went a little crazy... here's my list. I'll keep you posted on the progress. 

2/15/2017 On the farm. In no particular order or arrangement. Seed quantities are not exact on all. 

Borage - Borago officinalis 1.5 gm.

Candytufy 1,500 seeds 

Sweet Alyssum 8,700 seeds

Dragon's Tongue beans 50 seeds

Sunflower Mammoth Grey Striped 25 seeds  5.5 gm. + 50 seeds 

Sunflower - Maximilian - Helianthus maximiliani 50 seeds

Sunflower - Hopi Black Dye 25 seeds

"Haagen-Dazs Wildflower Mix"

"Large Sweet Pea Pods"

Virginia Stock 8,000 seeds

Fava Bean 10 seeds

White Yarrow 14,000 seeds

Viscaria oculata 1.5 gm.

Gilia tricolor 1,000 seeds

Scabiosa - Fama Deep Blue 10 seeds

Scabiosa - Fata Morgana (2 unmarked packs from Floret Flowers)

White Sage - Salvia apiana 100 seeds

Nasturtium - Sahins's Paso Double 25 seeds 

Daucus carota - Choclate Laceflower - Dara (unmarked pack from Floret Flowers)

Sweet Pea - Noel Sutton 30 seeds 

Sweet Pea - King's High Scent 40 seeds 

Sweat Pea - Oxford and Cambridge 40 seeds

Sweet Pea - Beaujolais 30 seeds

Sweet Pea - Matucana 20 seeds

Sweet Pea - Apricot Sprite 20 seeds

Sweet Pea - Mr. P (2 unmarked packs from Floret Flowers)

Sweet Pea - Erewhon (unmarked pack from Floret Flowers)

Poppy - Black Swan Pompom 1 gm. 

Poppy - Iceland, Giant Peach (2 unmarked packets from Floret Flowers)

Poppy - Meconopsis - Frances Perry 50 seeds

Poppy - Meconopsis - Lingholm Hybird - x sheldonii 25 seeds

Poppy - Oriental - Fruit Punch 100 seeds

Poppy - Breadseed - Hens and Chicks .5 gm.

Poppy - California .5 oz. 

Stock - Apricot (unmarked pack from Floret Flowers)

Rudbeckia birta - Black-Eyed Susan - Chim Chiminee Mix (unmarked pack from Floret Flowers)

Zinnia elegans - Lilliput Salmon (2unmarked packs from Floret Flowers)

Zinnia elegans - Benary's Giant Salmon Rose 30 seeds

Zinnia elegans - Oklahoma Salmon 50 seeds

Zinnia elegans - Zinderella Peach 50 seeds

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Gardening is a form of protest.

I believe gardening is a form of protesting in a time of social and political unrest. With an administration aiming to divide the nation, lead by fear and prejudice and make money at all costs, it's important to find empowerment within our local communities. Historically, gardening has always been a way to take care of ourselves, our families, and connect with communities - let alone ground into nature and the natural rhythm of the earth. These are big concepts that can be explored for pages and pages, but for now, I invite you to visit these few links of people who are staying healthy, voting with their dollars and connecting our nation, by the simple act of gardening

Want to learn more? Visit my twitter account for my #dailyprotest. 

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Cacao, for the skin and beyond.

Here on my farm in Half Moon Bay, CA, the ground is beyond muddy, plants are sleeping and the harvest season feels very, very far away. While only a six hour flight south to Punta Gorda, Belize, my friends that farm cacao are out on their farms tending to rapidly growing cacao fruit trees. Their normal harvest season is more towards June, however some early pods are being harvested weekly, mostly for use at home in traditional Mayan teas and food, like corn and cacao soup, chocolate and elixirs. 

Here at home I have been going through my Belize botany notes. A handful of filled to the brim notebooks with scraps of paper, maps with notes and lines from interviews. The paper is swollen from rain, mud and chocolate, a in the moment reminder that transports me back to the jungle when I flip through the pages. 

There are many medicinal values associated with Theobroma cacao, for our purposes, we focus on the skin benefits. Cacao oil is a key ingredient in our Higher Ground facial serum, an oil that gives the serum it's signature, rich scent and color. Useful for circulation, hydration and skin cell repair, cacao continues to amaze me - and helps my skin look glowing and healthy. 

Want to take a virtual trip to Belize with me? Visit some of my past posts

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Simmering...

Add to the stove a quart of water with generous pinches of:
- Cinnamon
- Cardamom
- Nutmeg
- Clove
- Ginger
- Black Pepper
Allow to come to a rolling boil for a few minutes, then simmer on low.

This not only makes your home smell amazing, but can also deodorizer and disinfect the air and influence our mood. With this spice blend, you are prone to feeling warm, energized and alert. I like to keep this pot of botanicals simmering on the stove while I'm cleaning or doing paperwork.

I'm not a fan of the over use of essential oils (or the MLM's they're sometimes attached to), as compared to using whole, organic botanicals. Ideally, use the real-deal plant, not a processed version or expensive oil for burning or diffusing. Cinnamon sticks last for up to 6-8 uses, brewing pot after pot of fragrant tea. Nutmeg powder does the same, with the scent slightly evolving with each use. Here is a good blog post on safety when diffusing essential oils.

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Higher Ground and the evolution of a scent.

I lift open the large wooden door allowing the afternoon light to fill the room, except for the corner spots that stay dark, housing amber glass bottles, stacks of kraft paper and miscellaneous rolls of thick gauge hemp twine. A breeze comes in the room, twirling little bits of dust and tiny dried leaves from the Pittosporum shrubs outside, no matter how many times a day I sweep. The small swirls of debris slowly settle to the ground in a lovely scatter on the concrete. The space feels like my own; cool, tidy, small and insulated. Even the settling dust feels like it belongs. It’s a calming space to work in efficient and grounded silence - something that I’m always searching for. 

I set down my big mason jar of hot tea on the corner wood table, put a podcast on low, and knot my scarf around my neck so it doesn’t knock over the oil bottles when I lean over to pour. The Theobroma cacao oil needs to be warmed up before pouring into the mixture, so I hold it tucked under my armpit, then blend other oils in the bowl with my free hand. 

Sesame, vanilla, grape seed, rose hip. 

But the cacao is my favorite; a thin brown elixir that has traveled a long way from its home in the jungle, carrying with it a scent that evokes so much to many people. 

The emotional scent of chocolate; grass stains on white tights and pink dresses during easter with family. Sadness from a break up and a pint of ice cream on the couch. Cookies baking in the oven, warm chocolate chips with a glass of milk. Midnight and a spoon resting in a glass jar of hot fudge. 

For me, the scent of chocolate is not typical. When I smell chocolate I smell humidity and heat. I smell red clay soil and sweat with sunscreen. I smell white, fruity pith and fermentation on flat slabs of pitted concrete. Burnt wood, corncobs boiling on the fire, the intense nutty fragrance from the three hour roast. Allspice. I smell whatever herbal bits were left in the big, stone mortar and pestle.

Spending time in Belize researching cacao has actually changed my scent memory of chocolate, something that I never really thought of before. What other scent memories have been altered from recent experience? 

 

Back in the lab, I gently blend the oils, letting them all get to know each other in the bowl. Once the cacao is poured into the Higher Ground serum, it quickly settled to the bottom. You need to swirl the bottle to distribute the oil, the dark elixir looks like a flock of black birds swooping down in one quick movement to explore a patch of fresh soil in the garden. The scent for me is close to heaven, and what is offers my skin is even better.

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