Siri Lorece is an Urban Farmer, Yoga Teacher, Singer/Musician, Minimalism Advocate, Sustainability Educator, and Podcast Host.
Creative Arts Farm an urban family farm and partially off-grid homestead, cultivating sustainability & self-care education through urban farming & gardening, yoga, and the performing arts. Food, movement, and music are universal languages worldwide, all essential to our emotional and physical nourishment – it is our mission to unify community members of diverse abilities and socioeconomic backgrounds through our mission of Sowing Seeds of Wellness – which is anchored by Music, Farming, and Yoga wellness.
Million Gardens: Tell us more about your work with Creative Arts Farm – especially, Garden Grooves or other community events!
Creative Arts Farm community offerings are inspired by my career as a vocalist and my life-long love of plants. Our friends, family, and neighbors are at the forefront of our mission of Sowing Seeds of Wellness through live music performances, urban farming, yoga, and sustainability education. Each offering is intended to be accessible from wherever you reside (virtually and/or in-person) with pricing ranging from no cost to low cost, and sliding scale. For us, accessibility applies to time commitment as well. This is why we provide short concerts and yoga classes (15 mins), as well as longer offerings performances like “Garden Grooves” – which features myself and the Creative Arts Farm Band. It’s a GREAT time!
We offer virtual full band music performances streamed directly from the Creative Arts Farm website. We play songs new and old, all genres, all bops! Our last Garden Grooves concert was 90’s themed and our setlist was full of some of the best songs from the ’90s. We also have a no-cost concert series called “Vocals & Keys” featuring myself and my music producer and best friend on piano. We love this offering. It’s a shorter concert than our ticketed streamed events, and we present it via Instagram Live. August 7, 2021, is our next virtual concert and it is going to be a dream come true! The Creative Arts Farm Virtual Concert Choir is going to be presenting some of my favorite classical music selections. The choir is composed of friends of mine who I have known for over 20 years and taught and performed with all over the world. We have professional Opera vocalists, musical theatre professionals, and choral educators joining us for this offering. It is going to be a delightful treat of virtual music wellness. We hope you will join us! Tickets are available through the Creative Arts Farm website.
Another way we meet in wellness with our community is through our Monthly Mindfulness yoga subscription. Each month I curate a self-paced wellness package that is emailed to our subscribers to enjoy on their own time. The package includes a crystal singing bowl sound bath, Restorative Yoga Session, guided meditation, and more. It’s a beautiful way to exchange in wellness with our community members here in Los Angeles, as well as all over the world. We have subscribers in 4 countries and almost every state.
Million Gardens: What are your favorite vegetables to gift to others if you have extra?
If a neighbor passes by, they’re not leaving empty-handed! One of the most beautiful experiences in our grow space is engaging with our community through the Creative Arts Farm mini farmstand (no cost). We have copious amounts of collard varieties, amaranth, and various seedlings we share weekly with our neighborhood. There is always extra, no matter what. We believe strongly in sharing what we know in order to help others grow. Be it through harvests, casual conversation, or garden consultations – we are committed to the wellness of others through our offerings.
Million Gardens: How do you think the world would change if everyone was growing their own food?
I believe if everyone took the time to form a sustainable relationship with food, we each would naturally gravitate towards growing food ourselves. Which in turn could put worldwide unification in motion. The relationship with self, others, and plants are interconnected. As our farm mission states – our intention is to offer the community the very things that unify us all: music, food, and movement. Imagine if every balcony, porch, windowsill, front stoop, back, and front yard were laden with fruit trees, herbs, and vegetables? My husband grew microgreens in a mason jar in his van window! A little sun, light, and nourishment goes a long way.
Community wellness would be through the roof if we were able to grow food freely! Lack of quality accessible nutrition is a pandemic of its own. If more folx had accessibility to grow food, society as a whole would be fed and energized to face some of the other challenges that present themselves in life. Food is not something we should ever be fearful of having enough of. If someone wants to grow, send them my way. I want to help others successfully grow food and their overall well-being.
Million Gardens: What party hosting or attending skills do you think plants helped teach you, from patience to managing unexpected guests (often called weeds)?
Patience and hospitality definitely play a major role in all of our work through Creative Arts Farm. Be it navigating extreme heat and performances outdoors, working with clients in yoga wellness, and finding grace when nature has other plans for our seed and food production, we have to lean deeply into patience and hospitality. I consider seedlings our guests in a way. We make sure their needs are met, respond when they request a change of growing conditions, and honor when they have given their all to nourish us and Momma Earth.
Million Gardens: Although you do so much, from building a tiny house to hosting a free farmstand, a lot of your work deals with either growing plants or yoga/dancing. What is the overlap between these two worlds? How have you seen your love for yoga and movement alter how you garden, if at all?
It’s ALL connected. Our farm mission “Sowing Seeds of Wellness” is rooted deeply in yoga philosophy – specifically the 8 Limbed Yoga Path. Yes, that includes asana (physical yoga postures/movements) but our mission and work is grounded within the Yamas of the 8 Limbed Yoga Path. In short, the Yamas represent 5 social ethics of yogic wellness (external ethics):
- Ahimsa – non-harm/non-violence
- Satya – truthfulness
- Asteya – non-stealing
- Brahmacharya – moderation
- Aparigraha – generosity
Embracing Ahimsa is important not only to our farm work and mission but how we move through humanity and engage in wellness with others. Ahimsa means one should avoid harming any living thing (human and animal). This not only encompasses non-violence, but also avoids all harm – mental, emotional, and physical. When these principles are applied not only to our daily lives but how we engage with community, there is no denying there is a major overlap between yoga and providing food for our family and community. There is an unbelievable amount of non-harm, truthfulness, generosity, and moderation to be considered when growing food on any scale. While remaining authentic to our path and cultivating community-inspired offerings we are able to remain grounded in our mission and only share wellness that is custom and one of a kind to us and our community. We are a plant-fueled family, and we believe in the nourishment and sustainability of growing as much food as possible ourselves – and then sharing what we know to help others grow.
Million Gardens: We’ve been blanketed with West Coast smoke across all of the United States this week, and are reading reports about new climate crisis effects in California farming, like grapes tasting different from “smoke taint.” What new climate challenges are you facing recently, and do you have any words of wisdom to gardeners dealing with something similar?
There is no gentle way to say there is a huge climate crisis at hand. This isn’t new – but it’s getting worse. Where we live in Southern California, water use restrictions are in place and outlying rural communities wells are drying quickly. Trucking in water is becoming more expensive and less accessible which puts many families at risk of having their basic needs met (which is already a major crisis in Los Angeles outside of climate issues). As we move forward in searching for land to expand the Creative Arts Farm mission, we are finding it increasingly challenging to find land with water utilities already available. As a matter of fact, vacant land with a water meter installed can cost over $100,000 more than a parcel of land of the exact same size without water.
Though there is an overabundance of raw undeveloped land in Greater Los Angeles and surrounding, there aren’t utilities available to develop the land into sustainable farms and homesteads. We capture rainwater with every rain, and we reuse our tiny house greywater for making compost tea and watering plants. Our tiny house and cozy urban farm grow space uses as few on-grid utilities as possible. Los Angeles regularly experiences rolling brown and blackouts. In the past month, we have had a brownout (8-14hrs) 4 times in temperatures over 100F. To help support our familial sustainability and safety we partnered with GoPower Mobile solar to keep us energized, safe, and cool. With the energetic support of our Solar Extreme charging system, we have less to navigate during the season shifts. But the concern of what is to come and how to improve our ecosystem remains. We are dedicated to living a life of sustainability and assisting others in taking care of themselves while caring for the planet, by being an example of how to live more sustainably in an urban area, through our farm offerings, and through our newsletter “Sustainability & Self-Care”.
Million Gardens: Being in bountiful growing spaces and gardens can be a life-changing experience, especially for those who have barriers of entry to gardens or just haven’t gotten outside recently. Have you had any guests to Creative Arts Farm whose experience there changed their perspective? How does it feel to help others join the gardening movement in moments like that?
I am hard-pressed to believe someone who is present and open to the magic of nature can enter a grow-space and leave with the exact same thoughts and feelings surrounding being within nature and growing food. It’s not possible. Whether my loved ones and community members are aware of this or not, it’s my mission to get every single person I exchange energy with to grow just one plant. I like to send people away with a little bit of everything. Each friend who visits leaves with cuttings, seedlings, seeds, and fresh food to eat. Providing them with several modalities to engage with the plants and determine if they want to dive in deeper – which they always do, I am a crafty plant magician! Many of my lifelong friends and neighbors have started gardens this year after visiting us and meeting with me in garden consultations. It is absolutely beautiful to get updates about their growth not only with their plants, but their emotional, physical, and mental wellbeing. I hope to encourage others to discover their plant love language and commit to learning the ins and outs of those plants’ needs. Plants and humans aren’t so different – the mutually supportive relationship plants and humans exchange is the exact representation of how humanity can respond to and support one another. Nourishing one another in order to nourish oneself. I dare you to spend 30 minutes in a garden with hummingbirds dancing about, bees buzzing, and flowers blooming – and walk out of the gates unchanged. It’s just not possible.
Million Gardens: The Million Gardens Movement is giving away the Ultimate Garden Party this month for a community leader or essential worker who deserves to be thanked for all their hard work. If you could throw someone the Ultimate Garden Party, who would it be and what would it be like?
I would throw a farm-to-table dinner party for Jamiah Hargins of Crop Swap LA. He is an exceptional Los Angeles-based urban farmer and entrepreneur who gives 100%, 100% of the time. Last year, Jamiah and his team began transitioning Los Angeles front yard lawns into micro-farms to serve their neighborhoods. Talk about community wellness and locally grown food! I would invite all of our favorite sustainability educators, gardeners, urban farmers, and community supporters to bring harvests to share, and we would enjoy delicious conversation and treats. Without a doubt there would be a plant and seed swap – and what is a party, without the Creative Arts Farm band providing the entertainment 😉
Do you know someone that has gone above and beyond to help their community over the last year? Someone who deserves to be recognized and frankly could do with a bit of a party? This summer, The Million Gardens Movement wants to celebrate these local heroes by throwing one lucky winner the ultimate garden party worth up to $5000.