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My Healing Garden

My dream of creating a food forest started in college, over thirty years ago, in my favorite class - environmental science. I did a paper on regenerative agriculture. Of course, it wasn't called regenerative agriculture at the time. I learned about taking degraded farmland and building it up using compost, using cover crops instead of leaving bare soil, using companion planting and beneficial insects to control pests, avoiding tilling, and not using chemical fertilizers and pesticides. I didn't become a farmer out of college. Instead, I went to law school and became a lawyer. Over the years, I gardened as much as I could, but between my career, Fresno's air quality and my health, it wasn't much. Still, I dreamed of creating a system where I could grow most of my own food and nurture the earth.


In 2021, we bought land in Costa Rica with the intention of starting a food forest. I watched every YouTube video out there on Costa Rican fruits and veggies, organic farming and gardening, and permaculture. My kids joked that I didn't have a YouTube channel, I had a farming channel.


In November of 2022, my son Owen, his girlfriend Linda, and I attended a 15-day Permaculture Design Course ("PDC") at Finca Tierra in Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. I learned so much about permanent agriculture. It was life-changing and life-affirming. It was on this trip that it really hit me that I was killing myself with work and needed to change everything immediately - not ten years down the road.

The video below tells the Finca Tierra story.

When Mark and I moved to Costa Rica in July of 2023, I planned on designing our food forest. I planned on personally selecting every plant and tree and planting them with Mark. I had lists of everything I wanted, but where should the mangoes go? What does full sun in the jungle look like? How could I tell the difference between total shade and partial shade? Can the landscape support a 1000-liter water tank? I experienced massive analysis paralysis. Plus, we still were not used to the climate. Planting two avocado trees took two days.


I decided to reach out to a local expert for help. When I discovered Regenerate Your Reality, I knew I was heading in the right direction. Alan of Regenerate Your Reality really got to know me and what I wanted. Not only did he help me design a food forest, a chicken house, and other structures, he and his team did the heavy lifting. Instead of me spending the next several years putting the base together, Alan selected plants that are suitable for our climate. He sourced most things from his farm including medicinal plants, plants that would prevent erosion, plants near the living space to repel pests, trees that would provide fruit, trees that would provide privacy, and ornamental plants (because beauty is important and because we want to attract birds and bees). There is no doubt that Alan is an expert in regenerative agriculture, but what makes him really special is that he has the heart of a teacher. I wish I had taken videos of how excited he was when he explained the importance of each plant.


Alan did the planting over the course of four days in September and October. The rainy season will continue until December, so I am hoping that everything is well-established by then! The major compost system and the chicken house will be built in November. For more info on regenerative agriculture, check out www.regenerateyourreality.com.


It took me way too long to write this blog because I felt like I needed to know the names and benefits of every plant and tree on the property first. It finally dawned on me that it might take me the next fifteen years to learn everything I want to know, so I decided I know enough to share what I know right now. I have so many cool medicinal plants: gotu kola, yuerba buena, all kinds of mint, all kinds of basil, and tarragon. I may not know all of the health benefits of everything yet, but I know that the fresh mint tastes amazing! Soon, I will have enough edible perennials to harvest fresh salad every day. In a few months, I will have hundreds of flowers in bloom bringing beauty and bees and hummingbirds. We will have cucumbers, tomatoes, squash, corns, and beans. Soon, I will have ten chickens that will provide eggs for us every day. In ten months, we will have yuca and sweet potatoes. In ten months, we will have 50 organic pineapples. (See pineapple hill below.) In a couple of years, we will have lemons, limes, coconuts, cacao, avocadoes, mangoes, mangosteen, breadfruit, rambutan, and so much more!





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