“What does a physician need to feel comfortable writing a prescription to someone to go spend time in nature?”
For those who have regular contact with nature likely harbour a knowing about the not-so-subtle benefits on their overall sense of well-being. The concept of Nature bathing as a prescription from a medical professional is perhaps a bit far fetched. Or is it?
After speaking to an acquaintance (that happens to produce a kava beverage) who was panicking on the telephone about having to do another production run before the Holiday Season because they were completely out of stock – an unexpected surprise, it struck me just how much of a pressure cooker we live in with no pressure relief valve.
I started my own search for a pressure relief valve several years ago and stumbled upon the concept of Shinrin-Yoku which has changed my life…from concrete walls to a farm.
The term Shinrin-yoku (forest bathing) was coined by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries in 1982, and can be defined as making contact with and taking in the atmosphere of the forest.
A study (one of many on this subject) published in the Environmental Health and Preventative Medicine Journal in January 2010 showed that being in nature had a significant effect on salivary cortisol levels, blood pressure, pulse rate, and heart rate variability which were used as physiological response indices before and after contact with nature.
The results showed that forest environments promote lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, lower blood pressure, greater parasympathetic nerve activity, and lower sympathetic nerve activity (fight or flight) than do city environments.
Their results contributed to the development of a research field dedicated to forest medicine, which may be used as a strategy for preventive medicine.
Below is a very powerful and inspiring video about Shinrin-yoku and the significant role it plays in preventative medicine, self-care and over all quality of life.
Dive into shinrin-yoku or become a trained guide in 2018.
Get a free Shinrin-yoku starter kit by signing up at shinrin-yoku.org for their newsletters. Access their informative printouts, links to research articles and resources as well as opportunities for guide training.
For more information, purchase one of their 40-page handbooks.
This shortlist of great reads came from a larger reading list recommended by the experts at the American College of Health Sciences. I regularly participate in ACHS continuing education courses and webinars and borrow the books they recommend from our local library.
Here are my 5 favorite wellness books which I had a chance to peruse and put to good use in my kitchen.
As I settle into more indoor time and harried obligations, I am always on the lookout for books to help me re-focus on self-care. Fortify your mind, body and spirit with these great resources.
Raise your hand if you or someone you know may benefit from holistic strategies for managing ‘stress’? This books helps you identify the parts of your life that are causing stress, how your body responds to stress and to discover personalized activities to alleviate stress.
A must have for those interested in creating their own natural self-care products. ACHS says: ‘Rosemary Gladstar is an iconic herbalist, and her book presents an informative guide for knowing, growing, and using medicinal herbs. Each herb chapter has recipes or formulas for medicinal use of the herb. This best-selling text profiles 33 of the most-common botanicals used in herbal medicine, including how to prepare your own remedies like tinctures, oils, and creams.’
This resource makes incorporating herbs into everyday cooking a breeze. ACHS says: ‘An American Herbalist Guild Registered Herbalist (RH), de la Foret demystifies the kitchen and shows how to turn common foods into healing agents … and on a budget! Using herbs and making your own remedies does not have to be expensive. de la Foret shows it’s “as simple and inexpensive as cooking dinner.” Twenty-nine of the most popular herbs are profiled, including history, modern uses, and recipes.’
This book has put me into full garden planning mode and it’s only November. ACHS says: ‘In this fully updated text Haas breaks down the detoxification process and cleaning protocols for things like sugar and caffeine. Hass also provides 50 recipes to follow-up detox.’
Author Jan Berry offers many projects you can make with common herbs and oils … no fancy equipment needed! This is my kind of essential resource.
Resource: American College of Healthcare Sciences
I am always on the lookout for unique deliciousness – home-made ingenuity, character, panache and gusto. Passion and hard work are perhaps the main ingredients in making dreams come true.
Vancouver Island is filled with such stories. Farmers and artisans from all walks of life who bring their own brand – mainstream or not – and make it work.
Don Genova, a Canadian Journalist, has written a very informative book with amazing home-grown recipes about the Food Artisans of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands that captures the spirit of this place off the west coast.
Don’s enthusiasm for local food, wine, ciders, farms and the people behind such artisanal exploits is inspiring and his book is a beautiful window on the options and opportunities as well as some amazing recipes. This book is a wonderful guide for foodies and those who engage in casual or serious travel-for-food – a virtual trip through bakeries, chocolatiers, cooking gear and kitchen shops, farms, specialty shops, butchers, charcutiers and salumists, sea food, specialty shops and even some recommended Saturday adventures. Start planning for your next vacation or your next escape!
After moving to Vancouver Island on a whim three years ago – not knowing much about the local farm or food scene – I was quickly drawn deep into the mystical feel of the land, nature and the potential to do and create in harmony with the planet. Very early on, I met many people who were on a path that was never even a consideration in my mind. But this is what this island and surrounding islands do, they gently nudge and offer.
Locally sourced and biodynamic stopped being abstractions and became reality. I wanted to support these people who worked their butts off and didn’t allow corporate cents and sensibilities to dictate their passion and vision.
My next expedition is to Alderlea Farm near Duncan, Vancouver Island, where Katy and John run a family friendly farm-to-table cafe and take part in community-supported agriculture.
View our Original Photos on Canvas Gallery Shop here.
Rather than fighting the world we reject, let’s use our knowledge, skills, insights, principle and techniques to create the world we do want. ~ Bill Mollison
We are so proud to announce that Seedling in the Wind Micro-Farm will open in Spring 2018. We are located in beautiful Central Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada.
Our micro-farm, as the words suggest, is a small-scale, family run operation. All plants and seeds have been carefully obtained from producers that exclusively use organic practices as well as heirloom AND non-GMO seeds only. We grow our plants and foods using ONLY organic growing practices and materials. We use organic worm castings, bat guano, horse manure and our own organic compost.
Everything we need to nourish our bodies, minds and souls is found beneath our feet. The planet provides us with the medicine and nutrition we need for maintaining optimal balance in our bodies as well as for supporting recovery and return to a healthy balance.
We love all things sustainable, local and organic. As a family, we are nature enthusiasts, gardeners, photographers, hikers and now farmers. In early 2017, our family started an Urban Front Yard Farm Project. We turned our dry grass into a productive hugulkultur garden in order to grow food for us and our neighbours.
Our urban garden project included 360 square feet of growing space on our front suburban lawn. We wanted to know if this space could provide nutrient dense sustenance for a family of 5 over a 22 week growing season and beyond? We wanted to know if growing our own could save us money or even make money?
Read more about our Front Yard Urban Garden Project here.
Once we started growing our own, we just couldn’t stop. In August 2017, basically on a whim and with the winds of synchronicity blowing, we sold our suburban home and bought a small acreage in a rural part of Vancouver Island all in the span of four weeks. It was a whirlwind AND we are happy to say we have settled in to our new place nicely.
We down-sized big time, shedding much of the stuff that was cluttering every corner of the old house – a truly liberating experience. We uprooted our garden beds from the front lawn and transferred them, rather unceremoniously, to our new garden, where most plants are once again thriving, still giving us tomatoes, cucumber and squashes.
Our dream is to farm, to grow and to nourish our bodies and the planet…so we started a farm…Seedling in the Wind Micro-Farm! We are the growers of Superfoods – plants that can help to create, maintain and restore balance.
We have been busy landscaping our family run, small-scale, organic farm and planting all kinds of berries and herbs as well as growing a new (to us) kind of superfood that will be ready in the spring. Stay Tuned.
We are off on a new and exciting adventure and we hope that you will visit us when we open in Spring 2018!
Bees are almost impossible to capture in action. They flutter about with such focus and determination, rarely stopping to pose for the camera. Whenever I water the garden, I am armed with my camera in hopes of capturing the abundant life, activity and beauty.
My hope is that such photographs capture the very interconnection and divinity of life that happens all around us, all the time. Blink and you miss it – perhaps even take it for granted. Without this microcosm of activity, there would be no food. We are all connected and depend on one another for survival, big or small.
All photographs by Jane Grueber 2017
See Photo Gallery here
The sheer beauty of sun, sand and ocean waves is indescribable. I am always in awe of the immense power of water and bathe in the blues, greens and yellows of summer as often as possible. These photographs capture my love of the earth’s summer beauty.
Here are three good pieces on the current state of the world today. I hope they inspire you to look around and be the change we need.
2. Geoff Lawton’s Permaculture News is a hub of useful and relevant articles available from his Permaculture Research Institute.
‘What is Permaculture? “Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted & thoughtful observation rather than protracted & thoughtless labor; of looking at plants & animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single-product system.” Bill Mollison
3. This is a must read for those who are currently indifferent to or apathetic about Genetically Modified Organisms that flood our processed foods and crowd out supercenters. The jury is not out on GMO foods as some would have us believe and the hidden funding of ‘impartial’ academic research by big agro is the tip of the iceberg. This article was forwarded to me in the early morning hours by a very good friend of mine.
This article is about the impending defamation lawsuit launched by an academic who was called out by a New York Times journalist on his undisclosed research funding sources. I look forward to seeing all the evidence in this suit.
All photographs by Jane Grueber 2017
It is always so remarkable to see bees in action. As I read about whole bee colonies being doused out by synthetic agricultural chemicals around the world, it is my hope that these images speak to the beauty of those most vulnerable and those we take for granted. Nature isn’t here for us to use and abuse. Vote with your dollar for ethical companies and local food producers as much as possible. Plant flowers that nourish your local ecosystem. Grow your own food.
All photographs are from our garden.
All photography by Jane Grueber
“Fruit is nature’s purest and most immediate enjoyment, requiring nothing more than a rinse or simple rub on your shirt to clean it. From the fruit-eater’s point of view, it’s effortless pleasure. It demands non of the slicing, chopping soaking, or parboiling needed by vegetables. Even on a chemical level, its energy is more accessible, more mobile, with no complex starches to break down.” (MK Wyle in Greenhorns: The next generation of American Farmers, pg 97)
This will come as a surprise to no one, connecting to nature creates improved well-being. Research has repeatedly shown that sensory gardens and the practice of shinrin-yoku (forest bathing practiced in Japan), for example, have direct positive effects on emotional, cognitive and physiological well-being. So when I came upon a recent article from the Washington Post extolling the wonders and scientifically-proven benefits of involving children in gardening: building microbiomes, better attention skills and patience, trying the fruit and vegetables they helped to nurture along and growing happier and healthier kids overall, I wanted to share it and add to it. In my opinion, not only is growing food good for the individual, it is good for community and humanity; developing understanding, empathy, and compassion are direct side-effects of growing and sharing food.
It is encouraging to see that growing food as a family is becoming more common, again. As we pat ourselves on the back for reaching this get-back-in-the-garden milestone, it is important to remember that most of the world (other than North America) still grows its own food, as well as the food to satiate the ever expanding North American appetite. Families used to grow their own food in North America and Europe in the not-so-distant past. It’s what they needed to do in order to have something to eat. It’s important to not forget that growing our own food is not a new lofty ideal, it is imperative for health, food security and environmental regeneration.
In a recent book I read, Greenhorns: The next generation of American farmers, 50 new generation farmers discussed their modern day challenges with feeding the North American inflated expectations that fly directly in the face of growing food naturally and in sync with nature.
“In our supermarket culture, fruit has become so visual, so linked to beauty and perfection, that people ignore the fundamental paradox of modern fruit production – high levels of chemical are the cost of unscathed, ‘perfect-looking’ fruit. In pursuit of this ideal, we’ve lost a sense of what good fruit might actually look like, cosmetic imperfections and all.” (pg 98)
I am a huge advocate of growing our own food, regenerating soil, getting the whole family involved in the process, sharing the food we grow with neighbours and others who face food insecurity.
I am a big believer in ‘real food is medicine‘ – preventative medicine. The more we are in tune with Nature and eat what Nature provides, the more we may improve our body’s functioning, mental clarity and overall well-being.
If you are not able to grow your own, support those who can and who are growing their own.
Teach your whole family to be a part of the locally sourced, regenerative gardening/farming and organic food solution in what ever way, big or small. Teach your children about the importance of healthy soil, rampant food insecurity and how to create meaningful change in this world.
I woke up this morning to a great post written and illustrated by two women, Jennifer Luxton and Erin Sagen, titled Comic: Why You Should Turn Your Yard Into a Mini-Farm. Take the time to read it and get inspired to do things differently.
They wrote this article for YES! Magazine to incite people to ditch the 40.3 million acres of front lawns in the Continental US and to grow food, herbs and ‘weeds’ that are beneficial for humans, animals and the planet. I couldn’t agree more. Re-creating the vast suburban luscious greens lawns into mini-farms is the future of locally sourced, nutrient dense food as well as a way to create food security.
To get you started, here are some ideas for growing delicious edibles that are also wonderful for honeybees, bumblebees and other beneficial insects.
How many hours a day do you move? Have you ever stopped to take stock of how much time you spend physically moving? It’s likely that you sit to eat breakfast, sit on the commute to work, sit at work, sit on the commute home, sit to eat dinner and sit to watch television. This is not ‘being lazy’ or a couch potato. It’s about the reality of our day-to-day lives.
‘Sitting Disease” is the new smoking according to recent research. Not moving enough paves the way for chronic and debilitating diseases including obesity, back pain and cardiovascular disease. Shirley Plant is a Wellness Expert that talked about ‘Sitting Disease’ on the Dr. Theresa Nicassio Radio Show June 2017.
When sitting at the computer or on the iPad, we are not being active. It’s about movement (not just exercise) – washing dishes, cleaning up around the house, gardening, going for a walk are all forms of movement. All movement is important and has an impact on caloric expenditure.
Listen to Dr. Theresa Nicassio’s chat with Shirley Plant as they discuss “Sitting Disease” and the serious ramifications of not moving enough. They discuss the difference between exercise and movement, current research findings around ‘sitting disease’ as well as workplace wellness where sitting for longer periods of time is often a part of the job.
I’m off the computer now to move around.