Your ceremony starts in the soil. Your ceremony starts with real people’s dedicated work. Your healing starts long before you realize it will even happen…

It begins in the delicate hands that grow, wildcraft and tend your plant medicine, your organic food, your herbs. In the soil that nourishes them, in the elemental dance, of fire(sun), water, earth and wind that transform them. It begins in the many hands that lovingly and, with great physical and personal effort, process it, ferment it, prepare it, sing to it, and put it out into the world so it may land here for you to heal with. 

In a world obsessed with self-growth, healing and transformation, it’s important to remember it’s not all always about you. It’s about people, the earth, the elements. Our great earth and spirit community. We recognize this in giving thanks as we take in these things. But are they truly embedded in our intentions, in our sourcing, in our honoring of traditions from which they come? 

The energetic blueprint of your healing allies is defined by the traditional practice, growing and cultivating processes as much as by the fancy labels, packaging and space where you meet them. This means digging a little deeper behind the shiny easy story. 

Remember that the plant medicines, food, and herbs you use are more than ingredients for you and your health. They are the hands that grew them and the soil that fed them. So choose wisely how you source them. Plants hold energetic imprints of their stories and theses become part of your story too.

If this resonates with you, while farming some years ago, I wrote about the fact that soil health equals human health. Because, as I have believed for so long, food is truly our medicine. While the lens of this past reflection was purely our food, you can extrapolate a lot of the concepts and apply them to your herbal and plant allies, medicine, and sources of nourishment. You can also apply this beyond the soil, to the people behind the food, as noted above. In reality, it is all a metaphor for the bigger picture – we are all inextricably connected. Your wellbeing, whether you like it or not, is absolutely linked to other people, elements and our great mother Earth. And if you acknowledge that, it is actually a really beautiful journey of honoring one another, their work, their form, their function, and the web that weaves us all together.

A copy of the original post is below:

A few weeks ago I attended an inspiring talk linking human health and soil health by Dr. Daphne Miller. This inspirational woman made connections that many of us who are deeply embedded in food systems work already know deep down. But, to my knowledge, no one has ever solidly backed up the profound connection between healthy, vibrant soil and human health. Dr. Miller provided a plethora of personal research coupled with studies in scientific journals. Her qualitative and quantitative analysis was so exciting! Finally, real proof for what all of us soil and healthy food advocates feel and know to be true!

My personal path through food systems work is winding and at times I feel lost. This talk deeply moved me, made me feel committed to my work, whatever form it may take. While this path is full of surprises, at least I know it is full of meaning. Whatever direction it leads, I feel I am  improving the connection between humans and the environment, promoting a whole systems approach to health from soil bacteria to human beings. Some key learning points are below:

  • Plants grown in ecologically managed, healthy soil are healthy for us:  Because they are more nutrient dense and have a greater diversity of nutrients than those grown non-ecologically. Soil, whether conventionally or organically tended has soil microbial activity in it (fungi, bacteria, etc). Different microbes are responsible for getting key nutrients to the roots of certain plants. ( I never knew that nutrient exchange was this complex!) This all happens in the rhizosphere, essentially where the nutrient exchange party takes place. Plants also give certain nutrients back to the soil. Holistically, ecologically managed soils have a greater diversity of soil microbial activity. That means that food grown in this soil is indeed more nutrient dense, thus providing us with more nutrition than its conventionally grown counterparts. So ecologically grown crops are accessing more soil nutrients and that transfers to amount of nutrition we access from that plant. Makes sense that systems that mimic nature (biodiverse) are the healthiest for us and the environment.
    • A key point here: this is true for systems that grow soil quality through ecological practices such as adding compost, mulching, low to no-till, crop rotation, etc. Many chemically conventional and conventional organic systems attempt to put additives into the soil for plant roots to soak up and practice deep tilling. This is often not effective and results in less nutritious food.
  • Diversity, diversity, diversity: I just mentioned diversity in soil. This applies to life in general. Asthma and allergies are a major part of every day life. In Helsinki, Finland, one type of tree has almost completely taken over. Dr. Miller learned from experts there that many people ware developing allergies because they are not exposed to a diversity of bacteria during developmental years. This can happen in so many urban environments. Babies on farms drink raw milk, inhale hay dust, and manure particles and show lower rates of allergies. Exposure to diverse bacterias makes us healthier. This also applies to gut bacteria. Everyone should consider spending some time on a farm, in the woods, etc. exposed to different bacterias to build up immunity.
  • Food as medicine: Herbal remedies, food as medicine, all these things should be taken seriously. The medical system should communicate with farmers or food system advocates at the least. The food system is a way to get us the nutrients and/or cures we may need for a healthier life, to avoid certain diseases, or cure existing ailments. Dr. Miller mentions that she asks patients: “Would you rather get your prevention/cure from a pill bottle of from a whole food?” That being said, products extracted from natural sources often isolate one or a few key compounds. Often side effects of a compound are negated by the interaction of other compounds in said plant. Thus, an isolationist approach may not serves us well. A whole plant approach is often safer and better for us. This is not to deny the necessity or deep knowledge in our medical system, but rather to remind us to work together for holistic health.
  • Farmers are soil doctors: They are indirectly doctors for us too. After all, what they grow, feeds us and may indeed keep the other type of doctor away! Just call me “doc” from now on.

~Kat, Founder of Yarrow RI

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