By Natalie Forstbauer
Barefeet, dirty nails, cheeks caked with soil, clothes weathered by the elements, the smell of earth lingering in the air...getting lost in long grass, playing hide and seek in fields, singing camp songs while pulling out weeds...sitting under a canopy of blueberry branches while filling my mandatory bucket and having the occasional forbidden blueberry fight in the berry fields...
Dishes piled high and floors waxed with freshly-soiled feet as brothers and sisters run in and out of the house to fill tummies, and play in between the farm responsibilities of looking after animals, picking beans, sorting carrots and cleaning blueberries...
The long hot days of summers on the farm had a beat of their own. There was a seamless rhythm that flowed between inward contemplation and outward expression. Creativity and free play were encouraged while routines and expectations were simultaneously enforced....
This was my childhood. I am the oldest of 12 children. Our farm was the fabric that knit our family together and we in turn melded the farm. Growing up on Forstbauer Family Natural Food Farm in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia with soil built up between my toes was a journey of connection, advocacy and flow.
My dad, Hans, was the rock that laid the foundation for the farm. His gift was stewarding the land while sharing his wisdom, insights and visions with my mom. My mom, Mary, was his window to the world. She had the gift of listening, compiling and generously sharing his insights with nearby communities where they were discussed, explored and implemented.
Together, Mary and Hans, along with many of their friends in the organic community, created the framework and standards for certified organic growers and farmers in Canada. All the while, my parents incorporated biodynamic principles into their farming practices. Grandfather had studied Rudolph Steiner’s work and practiced biodynamics; it was a part of our family lineage.
Growing up I was drawn toward biodynamics because the philosophies and practices made sense to me on an intrinsic level. Without really knowing much about it, it just felt right…and I knew I wanted to learn more.
In 1990, I was 19 years old when I endured a concussion and some injuries from a car accident. I was having a hard time healing from these injuries, and within a year, I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. My health was declining rather than improving.
Thankfully I met an incredible woman who introduced me to Polarity Therapy. After just 10 sessions I noticed an improvement in my health, memory and overall well-being. I went on to study Polarity and became a Certified Polarity Therapist.
What fascinated me about Polarity Therapy was how much it reminded me of biodynamics–the elements, the energy, the consciousness, the cosmos, planetary impact, thought-awareness and self-awareness.
Biodynamics taught me that Earth is a living organism that we are all a part of, not separate from it. Polarity taught me that energy, or the flow of energy is the blueprint of all health and that we are not separate from each other, or even separate from Earth for that matter, but that everything and everyone is connected.
I found great joy connecting people to their healing abilities and their inner wisdom. I practiced Polarity Therapy and went on to launch a coaching and speaking career in which I taught people about wellness and how to be healthy, even when they had no time.
In 2003, my life changed again. This time, I endured a major brain injury from another car accident. When I woke up I didn’t know my name, who I was or that I had just written my first book. My healing journey from that brain injury was long and arduous. It challenged my beliefs and learnings on every level.
It taught me that healing is not a destination, nor an endpoint. It is not a healed bone, illness or disease; it is embracing who we are and where we are in this very moment. That is healing. Healing is meeting ourselves and others with compassion and grace, no matter the circumstances.
In 2019, after my TedX talk, Brain Injury to Brain Upgrade, I was ready to share my story on healing from my brain injury to help others navigate their journey toward health and healing.
In 2019, I set aside three days to map out my business plan to help people heal from the inside out so they could live meaningful, fulfilled and healthy lives. I thought I would be teaching them all about brain health.
Partway through the planning session we did a visioning of our greatest calling. The vision I had made me pause and take notice. It was not of healthy people dancing, being active and living healthy lives. It was a vision of a new Earth where everything flowed. What stood out was the Earth.
The colours were unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, vibrant, energetic, almost dancing. Energy was no longer taken or given but freely exchanged, shared and amplified. It flowed. Life flowed. All of Earth was in a balance.
There were new ways of living, growing food, building infrastructure, working in unity with Nature. All of Earth was in continual regeneration, harmony, sustainability, peace and love. Humanity lived with purpose, intention and unity for all. Our actions aligned with Nature.
It reconnected me to when I was 18 years old, to the time and place where I had witnessed the miracle of seeing dirt that had been destroyed by agrochemicals turn into living soil right before my eyes. That was when I discovered that Earth can heal itself and that healthy soil is teeming with life.
This vision showed me how my mission on Earth was to amplify the need for global regeneration and planetary health through the way we grow foods, the way we buy foods, the way we work with Nature and the way we nurture a more loving and conscious relationship with our home we call Earth. This is my calling.
We are not separate from Earth, but ONE with Earth. How do we manifest that and be co-creators with her? We let Nature lead. We come together. We share knowledge generously. We amplify what we are learning. We let go of what no longer serves us. We have grace, compassion and respect for ourselves and each other. We lift one another up. We connect with our hearts and regenerate the soil.
Now is the time to connect children, parents, farmers and gardeners to the magic of Nature and to the rhythms of Earth so that we can grow healthy food and have a beautiful vibrant planet to live on for generations to come.
From this vision I went on to launch Heart & Soil Magazine in January, 2020. The magazine’s goal is to amplify global regeneration and planetary health through the way we grow our food using regenerative, organic and biodynamic practices. Our magazine features farmers, gardeners, consumers, scientists, leaders, organizations and philosophers who inspire and motivate readers to think globally and act locally.
In 2015, my mom, Mary Forstbauer, left this Earth saying, “My biggest message is to teach children to love the land and to love the food they eat. In this way, they will become great people in the circle of life.”
Imagine a world where we love the land and love the food we eat.
Natalie Forstbauer is an organic and biodynamic farmer, trained in alternative medicine, a TEDx speaker and author of Health in a Hurry: Simple Solutions for the Time Starved. She is Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Heart & Soil Magazine, a digital publication dedicated to regenerative farming and gardening.