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Kamayan Farm: An Altar to the Land

Ariana de Leña started Kamayan Farm, a small vegetable and flower farm just 25 miles east of Seattle on Coast Salish land, seven years ago.

Her farm, her work, and her words are inspiring. Her farm’s name is a Tagalog word meaning “with hands” and refers to the ancestral way of eating in Filipino culture. A kamayan table is laden with banana leaves and then piled high with fresh fruit, vegetables, rice, and sometimes fish or meat. Ariana explains that in Filipino culture “food is love and a kamayan feast is like an altar to the land, community, and ancestors who, despite hundreds of years of colonization, continue to offer us resilience through food. Eating with your hands is both intimate and sacred, reminding us that we are inextricably linked to the land that feeds us.”

Ariana clearly enjoys a close relationship with the land. She grew up just outside of Seattle and remembers roaming the forests for hours, finding comfort in what she calls her “plant neighbors.” As an adult Ariana has carried forward that neighborliness toward plants and speaks about how her ancestors treated the land, plants, and trees as “elders and with deep reverence.” She and her team farm in ways that honor those beliefs: practicing low- or no-till; employing integrated pest management; using organic inputs; holding ritual space to offer gratitude to the land; growing a broad diversity of plants; and rooting the farm in a community committed to its care.

That sort of respect and reverence for land and healthy food is partly what inspires us at Farms for Life to do what we do and to partner with farmers like Ariana.

We asked her what folks could do to support her. She said, “sign up for my newsletter!” So, we encourage you to do so here: (scroll to the bottom of the page) or at this link. Kamayan Farm offers shares for both flowers and vegetables which you can also sign up for on their website. Farms for Life has partnered with Kamayan Farm for the last six years. We are grateful to do so!


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