Soil Goddess Leia on Living Regeneratively
December 05, 2019
Leia Marasovich is a surfer, photographer, yogi and practicing Buddhist who has traveled widely in her young life, blessing her with wisdom and perspective beyond her years.
She's pushing the regenerative farming movement forward in her work as the operations manager at Farmer's Footprint, an organization exposing the detriments of conventional chemical-based farming and helping farmers find an alternative through regenerative agricultural practices.
We wanted a peek into her life to learn how she fell in love with soil and how she keeps those good vibes coming.
Tell us a bit about yourself! Where are you from? What do you do for fun? What inspires you on a day to day basis?
Hey I'm Leia (pronounced like Princess Leia)! I was born and raised in LA, but my family is from Croatia and Slovenia, so I spent most my summers abroad between a humble fisherman village and a tucked away Mediterranean island.
What do I do for fun? I can't seem to differentiate between work and play — all of my daily immersions, whether creating, surfing, emailing, editing, yoga-ing, swimming, or composting — are done with intention. It's all fun (most of the time)!
The everyday people I randomly meet inspire me on a day to day basis! Today, I met a biodynamic farmer who explained some of the agrihood and conservation communities he's working on — that gave me so much hope, inspiration, and excitement! The ocean also inspires me — it's just perfectly grand and mysterious with a cadence of flow I admire. Oh! And drop any art book in front of me and I'm taken. Lastly, I love finding beauty in weird corners and unexpected cracks — I see beauty and inspiration all around — in the eyes of a farmer, in the smile of a child, in the wrinkles of an elder and more than anything hearing the stories of those from different walks of life.
Tell us about your current home and what makes it special to you.
For the first time, I finally rooted in a beautiful home with a housemate in Solana Beach, CA. Throughout the month of searching for a nest, I began to expand my vision of what I thought was possible and what I was capable of achieving.
Low and behold, I pretty quickly ended up in my current humble abode. My favorite things about it are its accessible location in the design district and walking distance to the beach, our compost and garden, the spaciousness for hosting community events, our bathtub with a hanging plant above it, and my awesome housemate Mitch!
Was there any particular life experience that sparked your passion for protecting the environment?
Growing up, my mother always took my sister and me on day trips to the farm, beach, hikes, etc. I also lived near a creek and spent hours outdoors climbing trees and balancing on creek stones, so nature was there, always part of my existence and daily interactions. My mother instilled in me a deep reverence for the natural world from a young age, so I don't think there was one moment that sparked my passion because it was always there.
How did you get involved in regenerative farming?
My most memorable farm experience was when I was on a research trip in Guatemala studying the impacts of mining and deforestation on local land, people, and farmers. I remember going to one man's farm and hearing his struggles, and for the first time I drew the connection that the food on my plate was coming from the hands and heart of a soul, most likely from across the globe!
My first experience of living on a farm was when I went to Costa Rica with my two best friends. We went to make a documentary on social sustainability and our first stop was a permaculture farm - there the seed was planted! The following summer, I took a Permaculture Design Certification course in California. The following year I started the Soka Instructional Garden at my university, among many other sustainability-related initiatives on campus. And after graduating college in 2014, I took an Ecovillage Design Educator Course in Italy. It wasn't until after a 3-year photography detour that I fell back into farming with Farmer's Footprint, the non-profit I so joyfully work for!
What can we do to help support the movement? And what can we do at home?
Living "sustainably" starts with a mindset and an awareness. Once I really understood and realized the impact my daily decisions and actions were having - from fast fashion shopping at T.J. Maxx to constantly buying a new plastic bottle of shampoo/dish soap/etc. - there came a turning point where the harm and toxic residue I was contributing to with every item I mindlessly threw in the trash became so tactile.
So, first and foremost is educating yourself because surely ignorance is bliss! There are loads of great documentaries out there on all topics (China Blue, Farmer's Footprint, Wasteland, The Story of Stuff, Banana Land, etc). Start by being inspired, knowing that you CAN contribute to the change.
Once you are educated, you for sure will have to change some behaviors and patterns of convenience. Sustainability is not easy — it takes sacrifice, time, and devotion. Commit to that — just decide here and now on just a few ventures you'll embark on and master those before overwhelming yourself with being the perfect "eco-citizen" (truth be told that doesn't exist). I started slow, and I'm surely not perfect, nor do I obsess over it.
One of my favorite things to do at home is compost! If you don't have a yard, you can check out Bokashi! Start in your own community —host a film screening with friends, support local farmers, join a local club/volunteer group, and be a conscious consumer!
Have you experienced eco-anxiety, climate grief or activism fatigue?
Nah, I don't. There is no time to worry or be anxious! We must mobilize, stay inspired, have faith, and do what we can while being light about it. If we get too serious, that's not healthy either. Balance is key, the future is wide open, and we have all the technology and hearts to reverse the trajectory.
And if not, hey — might as well enjoy the moment now while we're here! Of course I cringe at the thought that our future children won't have the same lived experience and connection with nature as we did. But instead of living in fear, I choose to live with a higher vision! We can fear, or we can dream — it's just a future projection of the opposite sides of the same coin...
How do you practice self care? Do you have any go-to rituals or practices?
Since my days are super jammed packed, my self care ritual is to do things that slow me down. Some examples are taking a candle-lit bath, creating space for a tea ceremony, painting, cleaning the house (your outer environment reflects your inner), reading, and going to Korean day spa! I've started to incorporate the Activist Method after my baths, and nothing feels more yummy than it!
I have a daily Nicherin Buddhist practice of chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, a devotion to the mystic law of the simultaneity of cause and effect through sound vibration. This practice empowers individuals to awaken their innate Buddha-nature and encourages inner-transformation and reflection for the ultimate vision of individual happiness and Kosen Rufu (world peace).
Last but not least, yoga has been an incremental part of my journey since a young age. I created an online series of yoga classes called Elemental Yoga which is inspired by nature and dedicated to the five elements. Each video is filmed at an epic Moroccan nature-scape and has a personalized soundtrack by Maltese temple singer Amber Riya that fuse the organic sounds of nature with kinetic beats and soul-nourishing melodies. You can join me on the mat from the comfort of your home on my website :)
Give us your best advice for young people who want to be part of the change but don’t know where to start.
Find your niche! There are sooo many ways to create value in this life, but find your personal thing that you're so passionate about. Is it wildlife? Educating girls in X? Ocean conservation? Prison reform? All issues are interconnected — human rights issues are also environmental issues and vice versa. Research organizations doing these things and reach out and ask how you can help!
Other ways you can reduce your footprint are:
- consume less, like of everything ;)
- be aware of what you are buying and where it comes from/how it's made >> buy from ethical, sustainable brands (do your research!)
- buy your produce from local farmers at farmer's markets or via CSAs
- buy things in season and local
- drive less! can you walk more, ride your bike, or carpool?
- eat less meat and more plants!
- avoid food waste (compost your raw produce, cook just what you need, get creative with leftovers)
- can you start a small garden or join a community garden or volunteer at one?
- commit to Plastic Free Fridays! And let that trickle into the rest of your days...avoid plastic as much as you can!
- find a local bulk store where you can refill your bottles (shampoo, soap, cleaning products, etc.)
Why is making a commitment to living more regeneratively important?
Quite frankly, we don’t do these things to protect the earth. We make mindful decisions and take conscious action to make life better for the most vulnerable populations who feel our consumptive and exploitive repercussions the most. We do it for the future generations — our great grandkids — so their bodies aren't infested with the toxins we ingest today. We choose to live ethically and ecologically for the women in China who are laboring away so we can wear a $9.99 shirt. We choose to live ethically and ecologically for the families in Japan who’ve been displaced after the tsunami. We choose to live ethically and ecologically for the indigenous tribes in the Amazon who’s culture and traditions are being replaced by beer and television, gifted to them by big oil companies. We choose to live ethically and ecologically for our ocean animals who are dying from eating our plastic waste.
Don’t you see? We do this for our Earth family — all the creatures and humans in the present and future. The decisions we make in the present, determine the reality of the future. It’s up to us, right now, to live responsibly, not just for ourselves but for each other.
You have many years of activism ahead of you. What are some of your goals for the future?
Thank you! Honestly, I can't even imagine what lies ahead. My intention is: for all my skills, passion, wisdom, and creativity to be fully utilized and appreciated for the good of humanity and to nurture this mother earth. When I hold that prayer, the universe provides me with the work :)
Thanks to Leia for sharing her story with us. Follow her @leia_vita