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Reply To: Introduce Yourself!

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Marise Fennell

Hello, my name is Marise, and I live in Hawaii, a small group of islands in the Pacific Ocean about 3,000 miles from the mainland. Since moving here to the Big Island of Hawaii seven years ago we purchased land, built our own off-grid cabins, and learned the methods to purify and harvest our own water, and install and operate our own solar system for all electrical needs. When I arrived here there was nothing just acres of guava trees, no road, no humans in sight. We felt a deep call to put roots down to enter the adventure of the wild. We had to figure out everything and while it was exciting it was also terrifying. Seven years later we have what we call Aumakua Healing Gardens, an evolving sanctuary steeped in nature and peace. I have over the years planted several medicinal trees such as Noni, Ulu, Lilikoi, Moringa, Soursop, Rollina, Chocolate Sapote, Avocado, Pineapple, and Abui. We live a few minutes from the ocean in a rural part of the island. We’re surrounded by many farms that are self-sustaining. Our climate is subtropical and averages 70 – 80 degrees all year round. It’s a perfect climate to grow all year but it’s also challenging with protecting what we grow from the many tropical diseases that cycle through these magnificent islands.

I was born and raised in Ireland, on another island in Europe. I grew up with the frigid rain and cold winds of the Atlantic. I moved to Canada in my early 20s and enjoyed the milder climate of the Northwest Pacific. In my 40’s I moved to Costa Rica, to the hot and humid tropics. And in my 50’s I finally found a home in Hawaii, which is sub-tropical and perfect for this stage of my life. It’s been a challenge to adjust to these various climates throughout my journey and so I wanted to learn more about how to balance all the elements both internally and externally in a way that provides me with support as I enter my senior years. And it is here that Herbalism I think can be a sacred and profound journey. Something that has been in my awareness for decades but not until now have I been able to give it front and center attention.

The community/area I now live in is filled with natural herbalists that have eons of experience and I have felt a bit intimidated by all that is unknown to me here in the tropics. It’s overwhelming at times as Hawaii has a lot of invasive species from around the tropical regions into Polynesia and beyond. I have come to learn that my land is filled with invasive species, “weeds”, and “junk trees” that I am told time and time again to get rid of. However, as I allow my connection to deepen here and connect with people who know about natural farming methods a method that uses everything that is natural to your land feels much more nourishing and symbiotic with the immensity of nature’s gifts in all ways it has found itself to arrive on my land. The junk trees can be used for composting teas and nitrogen and like a global community I have grown to love each and every one of their unique characteristics and beauty.

I am just at the beginning of the Community Herbalist program but already feel inspired by the presentations and care put into this program and look forward to meeting others along this path. Aloha!