‘If governments won’t solve the climate, hunger, health, and democracy crises, then the people will. Regenerative agriculture living provides answers to the soil crisis, the food crisis, the health crisis, climate crisis and the crisis of democracy.”
Message from Elders of the Future
In the decade of the 2020s, we asked ourselves the question – In the Crisis: Regeneration or Degeneration. A significant shift was upon us. Here are a few steps we took to become herbal forest dwellers.
Imagine waking up in the morning of 2030 living in a herbal ecovillage – everyone is acting as an ecosystem participant contributing to the whole, thriving in a regenerative forest community—fully connected forest dwellers. The basis of this earth culture is a living – like a tree’s metaphor for our society.
The root system is our relationship with the earth, and the stem of the tree or hardwood that it’s the centre of the trunk is our core governance. The branches are the various cultural expressions, and the leaves are us as individuals.
The ecological wisdom and knowledge of regenerative culture are – giving attention to and respecting communicating with the land and holding the ancient plant language as sacred and living according to the sacred laws of interconnectedness.
Interconnectedness – Biophilia
Biophilia is the passionate love of life and of all that is alive. While the past did indeed face dire ecological and social challenges in the 2020s, humanity also expresses a sign of tenacious courage and love of life through our willingness to work for humankind and Earth’s betterment. Shifting to biophilia principles, biogenic living and following a regenerative system can again bring itself into existence. Ecosystems that are restored, renewed, revitalized and miraculous abundance returned.
Thriving with Nature: Regenerative Community Living
A regenerative way of life processes that restore renews, and revitalizes their sources of energy and materials. A wholistic design uses whole systems thinking to create resilient and equitable systems that integrate society’s needs with nature’s integrity.
What does it mean to be regenerative? During the 2020s, regenerative agriculture and herbaculture became a way of life with the basic message, “you give back more than you take.” During this time, we asked ourselves deep ecology questions that went beyond our landscape, beyond ourselves, to envision how to change our immediate landscape and become even more intimate with our green family. To see these beings of life and shift our consciousness to a deeper connection of how to live in this circle of life. A regenerative design of imitating an ecosystem which goes a step further than sustainable. So our present community became an ecosystem village, and each of us became an ecosystem participant. We took an active role in both seeing and acting for the whole so that everything we did to support the whole – to regenerate to move the entire system forward to reach its fullest potential.
As ecosystem participants, we see ourselves as suppliers, distributors, consumers, governance, processes, producers, and even healthy competitors, improving our ecosystem as a whole. Our behaviour patterns streamline the flow of ideas, talent, resources and circular economy throughout the system. We see an ecosystem thriving and also supporting our neighbouring ecosystems through our gifting economy.
We live knowing we are wholly dependent on Earth’s ecosystems and services, such as food, clean water, disease regulation, climate regulation, spiritual fulfillment, and aesthetic enjoyment. The relationship between our well-being and ecosystem services is not linear. Our vitality and our inspiration because we see and act as our forest is our provider, infinite wisdom university and sacred cathedral.
We chose and committed to daily practise in regenerative habits and processes that go into everything we do. This goes from our homes to agriculture to our home-made fashion and livelihood – not just to limit the toll on us here in our environment but also to make the air, soil, water, and ecosystems healthier than we found them. Many indigenous cultures offered us examples of how to apply this way of life, which is inherently regenerative and respectful toward Mother Nature. We took the best of ancient wisdom and the best of scientific understanding, and we braided these threads together to create a regenerative fabric.
A Regenerative Sustainability Future
We saw regenerative sustainability as the next wave of sustainability, based on a wholistic worldview and aimed for thriving whole living systems. It integrates inner and outer realms of sustainability and focuses on shifting deep leverage points in transformational change systems across scales. The regenerative design uses whole systems thinking to create resilient and equitable systems that integrate community needs with nature’s integrity.
“Regeneration is an act of love towards the soil that is responsible for pretty much all of life on earth. A regeneration lifestyle is a lifestyle of uprooting oppressive systems and treating our earth and its inhabitants with dignity and respect.”
The Prime Directive
“Braiding Sweetgrass was an inspiration to many of us during this time. Of how we need to have our foot in the spiritual world and the world that thrives in and paying attention to these non-human beings in our lives and one foot stuck in reality and facing shadows of supremacy that live here for us to quell them, and make room for more thriving.”
~Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass, 2015
A few of us moved onto the land a few decades back, and we reforested the land, so we became known as herbal forest dwellers and created a livelihood for ourselves and our families. And yes, planting we did, thousands of trees; edible, medicinal, and native restoration happened every year.
What would happen if everyone planted a tree every year?
For this, we know, without trees, humans would not survive because the air would be unsuitable for breathing. If anything, people would have to develop gas masks that filter the little oxygen left in the air.
Statistically, if everyone planted a tree, the amount would still be dwarfed by the population of trees worldwide because there are currently three trillion trees worldwide – this is around 400 trees for every living human!
Each tree planted will save an estimated 4 kg of carbon each year – so that 20 million trees will eventually hold 80 thousand tonnes of carbon every year.
What’s low-tech, sustainable and possibly the most useful thing we can do to fight climate change? Planting trees. A trillion of them.
Tom Crowther is a climate change ecologist at Swiss university ETH Zurich. He found about 3 trillion trees already on earth – much higher than NASA’s previous estimate of 400 billion. His team of researchers has calculated that there is enough room on the planet for an additional 1.2 trillion – and that planting them would have considerable benefits in absorbing atmospheric carbon dioxide, the main driver of climate change.
One inspiration for this is how Costa Rica regenerated and brought back the rainforest from Costa Rica’s forest land, slowly increasing from 21% of its territory in 1987 to an estimated 75%. That means rainforests and their plantations covering three-quarters of Costa Rica. In 2020 they launched a crowdfunding campaign to plant 200,000 trees by 2021 in Guanacaste territory. They made a declaration of protecting 30% of the planet by 2030, followed by 50 additional countries making the same commitment. Costa Rica’s 2030 goal was 85% reforestation. Curridabat, Costa Rica, has granted pollinators—including bees, hummingbirds, bats, and butterflies – along with native plants and trees citizenship.
“The amount of carbon that we can restore if we plant 1.2 trillion trees, or at least allow those trees to grow, would be way higher than the next best climate change solution.” ~Tom Crowther
Herbal Forest Guardians
We knew that forests also have more indirect links to livelihoods. Forests provide soil nutrients and forage for crops and medicines. They also help to reduce soil erosion, pollinate crops and provide protection from the elements. Hundreds of millions of people in the developing world have relied on forests that sustained them since the beginning of time.
Our community forestry practices include encompassing activities by individual households, women and men forest gardeners, ecoculturist and herbalists and other folks involved in the community as a whole. As ecological herbalists, we knew that the shade-loving herbs were becoming rare, endangered and threatened. We asked ourselves and made the shift by creating a livelihood on sustaining ourselves by growing our medicine and designing a diet that included primarily perennials and shade-loving foods that thrive more on a forest edge.
We have evolved as `tribal people who depend on forests for our livelihood as we forage the woodland that we follow sacred reciprocity. Mending our relationship with the earth and deepening our daily routine of sacred reciprocity as the heartfelt exchange, gratitude, and acknowledgment for everyone and the green world sustains us.
Crafting herbal and natural products from the forest through the gifting economy, we sustain our community with the larger community. Besides providing habitats for wildlife and livelihoods for ourselves, forests also offer watershed protection, prevent soil erosion and mitigate climate change.
Forests are essential for our livelihoods, and we depend on forest resources for various products such as fuel, wood, construction materials, medicine, and food.
When done with tender loving care and respect, the benefits of community-based management can be seen over the long-term, leading to greater conservation participation, reduced poverty, increased economic productivity and the protection of many forest species. We have been living on this land for 50 years, and with each passing year, there is even greater forest cover and more miraculous abundance. Our community is on 50-acres thriving with health, joy and plenty to share.
The Ecosystem of a Herbal Microbiological Sanctuary
Key Ecosystem Participant Roles
- Plant Nursery Person
- Herbal Formulator
- Local Chef
- Wild Plant Forager
- Fermentation Chef
- Bioshelter Gardener
- Seeds Saver
- Edible Grounds Caretaker
- Landscape Permaculturist
- Medical Herbalist
- Forest Gardener
- Herb Farmer & Trail-Blazer
- Fruit & Nut Orchardist
- Vegetable Grower
- Microgreens & Master Sprouter
- Pollinator & Beekeeper
- Herbal Educators
- Tour Guides
5 hectares (12 acres) devoted as a biological reserve for teaching and species protection of rare, endangered and threatened native plants for a sacred reciprocity garden and a place to be in awe and inspiration – a deep core of the forest.
20 hectares (50 acres) total farmland converted to a forest ecosystem
5 hectares (12 acres)
A magnificent forest edge for foraging shade-loving plants and a forest garden nursery.
5 hectares (15 acres)
A reforested and planted with trees as an edible and medicinal forest garden – one of the most innovative parts of our integral agrarian system encompassing the forest garden and edible forests.
5 hectares (12 acres) are devoted to greenhouses, ponds, annual crops, passive solar homes and other ecological buildings.
Our environmentally conscious community of 2030 sustains a few multi-generational families. We connect with other villages called Regenerative Development Hub Partnerships within our bioregion. The future has shifted after a decade of what many called the Great Turning. Folks stood up and shifted their ways of being with each other and this precious earth.
Many folks feel daunted by trying to mend our relationship to the earth, but living in Sacred Reciprocity can be as simple as giving heartfelt thanks or acknowledgement as you walk in the woods, swim in a clear lake. This story is from herbal elders of a not-so-far-away future. The future is here – now!
Just imagine what would happen if every single human being participated in a sacred relationship of exchange with the Earth? Imagine living your passion – living fully-connected, living as a herbal tribe thriving in a beautiful enchanted forest.
“When we surrender the need to figure it all out and cultivate the ability to let it all in, then our earth walk becomes a sacred dance of healing service on the planet. More than the world needs saving; it needs loving.”
~don Oscar Miro-Quesada
“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.”
“The system of nature, of which man is a part, tends to be self-balancing, self-adjusting, self-cleansing. Not so with technology.”
Small is Beautiful