We thought everyone could use a beautiful dose of hope right now, so this issue is dedicated to the multi-faceted, stalwart heroes of nature: trees and forests.
While we can’t offer the money-bearing variety — as much as we’d all like a robust specimen of that mythical tree in our yards right now — we can highlight the incalculable value these wondrous living beings contribute to people and our planet.
Stay safe and don’t be shy about hugging a tree on your next socially-distanced walk outdoors. It might just tell its neighbor that you’re a good sort of human!
Find a vocation you’re passionate about and you’ll never work a day in your life. This is how we feel about helping Forested Foods communicate its inspiring story. Their vision is to help build a world where people value and subsequently conserve forests because they understand that biodiverse ecosystems produce many of the most unique and flavorful foods. Forested Foods partners with forest communities - starting in Ethiopia - to sustainably grow and bring the most distinctive forest-grown honeys, spices, herbs, gums/resins, and fruits to market.
Forested Foods launched in the U.S. on the United Nations’ International Day of Forests, March 21, with Maryiza, its flagship brand and line of single-origin honeys from Ethiopia's indigenous tree flora. With its curated collection of specialty honeys, Maryiza will help define the nascent category of raw and single-origin honey, showcasing the drastically different flavors and other physio-chemical nuances of honeys that can be traced to major flora sources and specific forest terroir. The Maryiza line is available via the Forested Foods e-commerce shop as well as through culinary thought leader partners such as Natoora and The Inn at Little Washington.
Meet Ariana Yuen, an extraordinary woman who is dedicating her keen intelligence, MBA degree from Yale School of Management with coursework in Forestry and Environmental Studies, NGO field training, unparalleled work ethic and commitment to social justice for smallholder farmers living in forest ecosystems.
I met Ariana last summer and we instantly bonded over our common trait of ‘nerding out’ over things like soil organic matter, climate change science and our total and complete love of trees and forests. She hosted me on my first trip to Africa which included thrilling, long days meeting her farmer partners, touring Ethiopia’s Southwestern Afromontane forest region and eating incredible Ethiopian food.
In her own words, here’s how Ariana started down the path of creating Forested Foods:
Since I can remember, I’ve always enjoyed problem solving, whether it be as simple as an elementary brain teaser or as complex as combatting our climate crisis.
I first became exposed to the world of agriculture and forestry, while working for TechnoServe, a global NGO, in their Ethiopia office in 2015. During the several years I worked with TechnoServe, my work revolved around building and stregnthening supply chains and market systems that were more inclusive of smallholder farmers, often to increase the quality and yields of their various cash crops like coffee, malt barley, honey, spices, and other horticulture. It was there that I started to understand the scale at which these industries affect everyone from the poor to the rich.
We know our name, Marin Restorative Communications, is a tad cumbersome but there’s meaning and thoughtful intention behind the word choice. First, while talented team members live throughout the country, we are based just north of San Francisco in Mill Valley, Southern Marin County at the base Mount Tamalpais.
A spectacular and naturally beautiful place like this seeps into your soul. Marin County is a hotbed of climate solution activists, farmers and ranchers following ecologically beneficial practices, and talented chefs who have long embraced plant-forward eating, holistic regeneratively raised meats procured from places like Stemple Creek Ranch and farmstead cheeses from Point Reyes Cheese. Place matters. Authenticity matters. You’ll find it here.
John Wick, co-founder of The Marin Carbon Project and philanthropic climate solution champion, inspired the use of the word ‘restorative.’ During long conversations at he and his wife Peggy’s ranch in Nicasio Valley, he explained the difference between regenerative and restorative. Both are important ecological concepts, but the idea of restoring the Earth to biological diversity and abundance and to pre-Industrial Revolution temperatures hit home.
In his review of Isabella Tree’s Wilding, Returning Nature to our Farm, Michael McCarthy says, “To save our beleaguered wildlife, we should move beyond conserving what remains – we should restore what we have lost.”
At Marin Restorative, we seek to restore what’s been lost in human communication: Trust. Integrity. Meaning. We hope you’ll put up with our unorthodox moniker and, if you’re looking for someone in Sausalito to fix your sailboat, you’ve come to the wrong place!
Check out the tree/forest section of the MRC bookshelf!
Tree Reads Worth Your Time (According to Amy)
Okay, so my mom didn’t love her book group’s choice last fall when they selected this one, saying "Amy, I have a book that’s right up your alley!”
Well, it was and I tore through the pages in incredulity as the life of acrobatic, daring, borderline maniacal botanists introduced the mysterious canopies of the largest living beings our planet has ever sustained, coast redwood trees.
Did you know that Frisbee games have been played atop the crowns of some of the giants?
The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben
You’d have to be living in a treehouse to have missed hearing about this gem! (And if you are, may I come visit?) Thank you, Peter Wohlleben, for teaching us that trees are like human families, they have complex forms of communication and they even take care of ailing members of their communities. Read this and I guarantee you’ll be the most interesting conversationalist at your next Zoom party!
Even bookworms enjoy movies and other forms of media and I promise this short film, "Life in Syntropy" , made to be presented at COP21-Paris will inspire you about the possibilities of syntropic agriculture as practiced by Ernst Gotsch. There is a better way, people!
Last December I lost my beloved father, Gene Quermann, age 87. Our family is honoring him by buying a beautiful redwood tree in the Santa Cruz location of Better Place Forests. It’s hard to describe the positive, calming peace we experienced throughout the entire process of working with the compassionate visionaries behind this new, ecological end-of-life service. Every step of the process was highly professional.
With this decision, we created a special family place where our father can rest in a serene, picnic-worthy natural setting, helped save biodiverse forest in the Santa Cruz mountains from future destruction, and planted 100 trees on land that’s been ravaged elsewhere by fires or floods.
MRC has no affiliation with Better Place Forests. I just wanted to pass along my highest recommendation for your consideration. We can all make our last act a wonderful one for future generations!