The Coast News Group
Isabella Castillo, 11, of San Marcos, enjoys the view from a garden tree. The gardens boast 80 types of fruit trees and vegetables. Photo by Promise Yee
Isabella Castillo, 11, of San Marcos, enjoys the view from a garden tree. The gardens boast 80 types of fruit trees and vegetables. Photo by Promise Yee

North County Earth Day healing fest

VISTA — Organic gardens, music, art, plant sales and healing arts were celebrated for Earth Day at Alta Vista Gardens on April 12.

The organic gardens served as the perfect venue for the Earth Day festival. The gardens feature sculptures, permanent outdoor instruments, an interactive sundial and panoramic views to the ocean.

“The gardens are a natural habitat with no chemicals, and no fertilizers,” Bryan Morse, Alta Vista Botanical Gardens president and CEO, said. “There are 80 types of fruit trees and vegetables. We add a few varieties per month.”

For the Earth Day festival, three stages of music filled the air with folk tunes and Rastafarian beats. Dance groups and musicians performed throughout the afternoon.

Avid gardeners could select from a variety of plants to purchase, which ranged from flower six-packs to 10-gallon shrubs. There were also eco-friendly vendors.

“I came last year and learned new things,” Claudia Martinez of Vista said. “This year they have even more.”

Artists set up easels throughout the gardens to participate in the Star Foundation plein air painting contest. The winner took home a $100 cash prize.

There were also art stations for kids.

Unique to the festival was a healing arts area that featured yoga instruction, reiki healing dance and palm reading.

Lia Strell organized the healing arts area, and worked with Morse to create the festival theme of healing the Earth, healing ourselves.

Strell is also a professional sculptor. Two of her pieces are permanent installations in the gardens.

She described healing artists as creative healers who share a nature centric connection. The practice involves ancient wisdom and modern vision.

A focus of the practice is taking responsibility to clean the Earth of manmade toxins and create positive energy.

“It’s community peace making, and giving back to the soil,” Strell said.

“It’s an understanding of our responsibility to ourselves and the planet,” she added. We realize this by slowing down and experiencing quiet. We have to have this for our next generation. There will be careers in cleaning up the planet.”

The theme of healing fit the Earth Day fest.

“Earth Day is about promoting the health of the planet,” Morse said. “We wanted to incorporate creative healing, and open the door to people who have alternative approaches.”

The fourth festival stage area, with vista views, showcased healing arts performers. A drum circle was held, and for the finale Gong Players for Peace performed a gong sound healing ceremony.

The drum circle led by Native Americans gave a healing blessing to the earth.

Morse described the nature of the drum ceremony.

“They’re dealing with issues related to nature and earth following Native American tradition.”

The finale performance consisted of four gong players and a spoken word artist, who led the audience through visualizations.

During the ceremony two musicians carried their gongs among the audience and played.

The gongs filled the air with clean, calming, empowering vibrations that adults soaked in and children responded to gleefully.

“It’s incredibly powerful,” Morse said. “The gong is 3 foot in diameter. You feel quite connected to it.

“You can unwind and relax at the end of day, with ocean views.”