In March a friend and I started a new business in Pasadena and Altadena, California where we live. It’s called 5Mi Radius. Think Fresh Vegetables, Hyperlocal, Sharecropping. In short, we grow food in community member’s yards (while transferring skills and knowledge and distributing workload), share the abundance of produce, and sell it at the farmer’s market or on our gypsy cart bicycle, all within a 5 mile radius of the Pasadena Central Library.

Last week one of our growing companions, Shannon, bought red and green okra seeds and a package of holy basil (Rama Tulsi, Ocimum sanctum) from Horizon Herbs. We planted the okra together in her garden on Wednesday evening, and this evening I planted the basil seeds in six small pots as I sat on the back patio.

Sown Rama Tulsia the next morning after a light night drizzle.

Holy basil is a very special plant. I have had a love affair with basil (Ocimum basilicum) ever since my first summer farming in 2007, when I wwoofed on Zephyros Farm at the foot of Mount Lamborn in Paonia, Colorado (where chacos are born), but I didn’t fall in love with tulsi until 2010 when I stumbled upon her as I was researching adaptogens (this is another wonderful subject, altogether).

Zephyros Farm Summer 2007

Tulsi is revered as a goddess in India and is prized in their ayurvedic tradition. A sacred and blessing presence, called “The Incomparable One”, a tulsi plant is placed in the center of the entrance of every home, and watered and sung to each morning.

Thulasi shree sakhi shubhe, papa haarini punyade,
Namasthe Naradanuthe, Namo Narayana priye.

Oh, Holy Thulasi,
Bosom friend of Lakshmi,
Destroyer of sins,
Bestower of blessings,
Salutations to thee,
Who is praised by sage Narada,
And is the darling of Lord Narayana

There are 108 tulsi mantras and only women are allowed to do the watering. As dusk fell tonight and birds waved above my head, I mixed rich worm compost my friend Laura gave me last night and organic potting soil in a cardboard box, watered it and put it in clay pots. After I finished filling the clay pots with soil and transplanting genovese basil, dill, mugwort and motherwort, and kale, among other things, I ran water over my hands and sat quietly as they dried in my lap, preparing myself for the sacred sowing.

Six soil-filled pots, and a paper envelope full of seeds. Small dark orbs. I am reminded of Leah’s art from Dharma Comics:

Nature Knows Dharma Comic by Leah

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except the grain of wheat falling into the ground die, it abides alone; but if it die, it bears much fruit.
And with this trust in the seed, I share a heartfelt prayer.
Salutations to Thee, Tulsi! I am so thankful for your presence and your wonderful healing powers!
You help me feel GOoD and work in powerful ways on this earth! May you grow happily with me and thrive wherever you are sent.
I love this plant. In this love is a recognition of divine blessing and herein lies a portal into the understanding that the earth abundantly gifts us from her fertile lap and supports us in our healing.
I am thankful for the opportunity to grow food. It blesses me!