Reverence for All at Ahimsa Farm Sanctuary, Maui
Approaching a turquoise temple, trimmed with gold, at its greatest height sits a lotus flower with a crystal too large to wrap your arms around, an embodiment of Om Mani Padme Hum meaning “Praise to the Jewel in the Lotus”. I walked along the fertile ground to this temple, unknowing of the mysteries that cohabit the soil beneath my feet. I was approaching the heart of a space called Ahimsa Farm Sanctuary, located in the Valley Isle of Maui along the iconic Hana Highway. After reading about it in a health magazine I decided I would hitch hike to its Saturday tour. I arrived early so I rolled around on some grass outside the property, watching some nearby goats, reading some Deepok Chopra. I wandered into the vast property and met the owner, a man named Blue Mountain, who carried with him the presence of a spiritual reverend. He guided me towards the fantastic turquoise temple, where he showed me around his family’s art gallery. Living at various heights throughout the room were these organic flowing sculptures, living an extravagant tantric existence. Wait, what? I had taken notice of one of these sculptures in the driveway, that was frozen in a posture of pleasure. Blue Mountain calls these pieces of art Kundalini sculptures, which balance both male and female energy. From one perspective, the sculpture takes on the form of male anatomy, and from another perspective, it embodies that of the female. It was at this point that I realized the pattern between conscious spaces I had been visiting like AFS, spirituality and sexuality. The openness and beauty of it all. I was transfixed on this idea when Blue Mountain invited myself and other visitors to his table to discuss the tour and details of the farm.
Historically, AFS was planted on what was previously a pineapple plantation. When soil samples were taken, there we no levels of toxicity, but the soil was depleted: acidic, no carbon, no life force. Blue Mountain explained that Ahimsa means honouring all life as sacred, so the farm utilizes techniques that embody this value in building the life force of the property. AFS uses a permaculture approach, which advocates observing the ecosystem you are cocreating, becoming conscious of its qualities, topography, patterns, and use this knowledge as the foundation of creating an efficient and dynamic system. AFS is not only conscious of its 25 acres; it focuses on reducing a carbon footprint by using renewable wind and solar energy. The farm also grows its own soil amendments instead of shipping fertilizers and conditioners in from far off places using fossil fuelled transport; Ahimsa strategically plants the soil amendments next to the gardens and orchards it will be used on. AFS avoids the use of pesticides, instead they foster healthy populations of predator insects like ladybugs to control pests like aphids, which demonstrates a permaculture approach to pest management which is becoming more widely accepted. I don’t think its necessary to quote Silent Spring here; the effect of chemicals like pesticides have continued to wreak havoc on the balance of ecosystems, yet spaces like Volcanoes National Park in Hawaii continue to use pesticides and herbicides to control unwanted species and invasive species. Blue Mountain pointed out something new to me: a certified organic farm can even use compost that contains animal parts like bones, blood meal and feathers which are “byproducts of the meat industry that can be contaminated with antibiotics and other chemicals”. In trying to regenerate the planet its key that we eliminate contradictions and hypocrisy, like big environmental nonprofit organizations accepting funding from ethically questionable corporations, whose operations contradict the mission of the organization. This is akin to organic farms relying on ethically questionable, unsustainable and potentially hazardous material. Its time to hold organizations, government, corporations accountable and implement policies that ensure transparency. We cannot continue to swallow our hypocrisy, we have to recognize how we operate and work through it. Ahimsa Farm Sanctuary embodies this value, which is one of its most admirable qualities.
AFS continually cultivates the life force through composting, vermiculture, remineralization, strategic cover crop plantings and microrrhizal fungi which is the fungal network in the soil, which, like the internet operates for humans, aids the connection and communication between plants. Ahimsa Farm’s informative booklet states “biodynamic preparations and Korean natural farming methods are also being used to build life in the soil. The farm features aquaculture ponds supplying nutrient rich water via gravity fed irrigation.” Seafood and fish comprise the highest source of protein for human consumption on the planet, and unfortunately the fishing industry has depleted wild fish and seafood populations from overfishing as well as from the consequences caused by in-water open net fish farming like the salmon farming that continues all over the world in places like Norway and British Columbia. A solution to this is aquaponics and recirculating aquaculture systems where nutrients from fish waste are used for plant production. Fish like Tilapia, which are vegetarian, are becoming popular at conscious farms like AFS, these fish can be fed food grown on site like coconut, ground peanut, moringa, etc. Blue Mountain and his family also implanted biochar in the land, a technique that has become well known through Indigenous farming techniques in the Amazon. Biochar is beneficial to mitigating climate change as it holds carbon in the soil, also turning agricultural waste into biochar reduces methane, which is another destructive greenhouse gas. Biochar enhances soil fertility, boosts food security, preserves cropland diversity, and reduces the need for chemicals and fertilizers. It also improves water quality by helping the soil to retain nutrients for use by plants, which on a farm, is extremely essential (biochar-international.org).We toured each of these facets of the farm, truly a cascade of ecoconscious developments.
On the (synchro)mystical side of the spectrum, which is where the funky stories live like a gnarled tree’s idiosyncratic branches, are the esoteric practices that have been used to generate life force on Ahimsa Farm Sanctuary. The visuals brought to mind by Blue Mountain’s esoteric farming tales are nothing short of cinematic; colourfully unfolding like a lumiere short. He told us how the farm sought the assistance of a wizard in regenerating the land, and upon arrival, the wizard passed on that the spirits of the land were pleased with his efforts. He spoke of the undines, which are beings that live in the earth who send plants out of the soil, and are responsible for the blossoming of trees in the wind. Writing this, I felt the need to google undines and uncover some of their coveted secrets. “The undines work with the vital essences and liquids of plants, animals, and human beings. They are present in everything containing water”. This makes sense, healthy soil is able to retain more water, creating a positive feedback loop as more roots can grow and absorb moisture. Blue Mountain also shared, or rather, entertained us, with his story of how the wizard instructed him to meditate while pushing deer antlers into the earth. People can speculate on the validity of practices that are spiritually based, but as Blue Mountain pointed out, we may not be able to empirically measure dreams, thoughts and emotions, but we all know they exist and we all continue to experience them. What is becoming increasingly evident to people on every continent is the importance of spirituality in rekindling our connection with the earth. Ahimsa Farm Sanctuary is among many I have been fortunate to visit who praise the importance of spirituality, is it a coincidence these spaces produce such abundance, creativity, and inspire such hope for the earth?
Our tour group weaved together our own personal story through the herbs and plants we collected and brewed into what I can say is the most delicious tea elixir I have ever had. We gathered holy basil, lemongrass, peppermint, spearmint, Hibiscus, st johns wort, ashwaganda, gocola, moringa, among others which became a conscious concoction for us to share in the temple as the finale to the day.After touring the developments of the farm, Blue Mountain led the tour group around a circle, where a sacred earth stone sat in every direction. We traversed this circle in a clockwise fashion, giving thanks to each direction. We then gave thanks to the micorhizzae and microorganisms beneath us, to the plants, animals, and beings that exist on our shared earths surface, we gave a wonderful thanks to our own sacred selves, then to the angelic spirits and other intelligences above us. Reverence at every level, from the tangible to the unseen, this was the most inclusive praise of gratitude I have taken part in. For something who loves both crop circles and mycellium, this is something I will never forget. We all held hands to close the circle, and gave a final statement on what we wished to work on within ourselves. Clarity, bliss, love, non-judgement were all verbalized from our minds intention, reminding us of all the qualities we are able to to evolve. The ghoulish grey skies took it easy on us, letting down a soft rain. I love the rain, and the atmosphere of that moment reminded me of home, I couldnt resist relinquishing a couple of my own salty tears. Thank you Ahimsa Farm Sanctuary for a wonderful experience, I look forward to coming back for a festival or some other species of event !