You may not know about seasons
by Nicolas Salazar Sutil, MA, PhD
Your personal health and the health of forests are intimately entwined. Reconnecting with nature’s cycles is one of the first steps to achieving a life in harmony.
Here are ten reasons why living and learning from the seasons can transform your life, and the world around you.
1 Consuming seasonal products places less pressure on food production and transportation
If you eat local and seasonal products, you will help reduce food miles and carbon emissions.
2 Seasonal products are more nutritious and make up for a better diet
Seasonal products are more 'nutrient dense' when compared to stored, canned or frozen foods. Seasonal diets can lead to major health advantages, including weight loss/gain.
3 Seasonal land use allows lands to rest and regenerate
Nomadic pastoralism and transhumance are examples of traditional forms of animal farming that respect seasonal pastures and water availability. Industrial farming forces land and animals to yield, breed or graze all year round, which can lead to numerous environmental problems including soil degradation, water pollution due to chemical use, deforestation and major loss of biodiversity.
4- Reconnecting with seasons can improve mental health
Understanding UV light levels, colour exposure and vitamin intake can have noticeable impacts on your mood, and this can help achieve a balanced mental life, especially with regards to seasonal affective disorders.
5- Seasonal markets are the basis of sustainable economies
Traditional seasonal markets may not only be picturesque. They can also be examples of a sustainable economy. Supermarkets, on the other hand, offer out-of-season fruit and vegetable, which exacerbates a predatory and extractive form of agriculture that leads to deforestation and is partly responsible for the expansion of monoculture plantations (e.g. palm oil, soya).
6- Seasonal ceremony, ritual and lore
Seasonal cultural practices offer a unique connection with the land and often instil the need to protect trees. Traditional seasons affirm collective memory and belonging, which are often lost in commercial, urban lifestyles. Did you know that 15.1 million Christmas trees get cut down every year in the US alone, according to a 2017 survey published by the Wall Street Journal?
7- Seasonal observances include fasting, meditation and contemplation
These millennial practices underpin many spiritual traditions based on the rhythms of life and death, an acceptance of which is vital to holistic well-being and personal happiness.
8- Seasonal lifestyles are the basis of many forms of non-Western medicine and healing
Ayurveda, Islamic Unani-Tibb, and Traditional Chinese Medicine associate health with the observation of seasonal diets, practices and rituals.
9- Many Indigenous Peoples around the world do not speak of climate change but planetary disease and the great turning
Many prophetic Indigenous worldviews, for instance the Pachakutik of Andean peoples, speak of the current ecological emergency not in terms of climate change or global warming but in terms of a planetary disease, and the turning of a cosmic season. If we understand our predicament as a disease, the mindset becomes positive and constructive. One solution to climate change would then involve practising healing and healthy living, which is something we can all take responsibility for.
10- Forests would not exist without seasons, and nor would we
Seasons allow for continuity, regulating the life and death of insect, fungi and animal populations, thus ensuring the cyclical, regenerative and sustainable nature of life.
You can learn more about seasonal ecology and how you can gain a life in harmony with the forest, by joining our upcoming course and forest camp.
Learning with the seasons: a journey into human and forest health
Online Course: May 3 -18 | Spring Camp: May 20, 21, 22 | Autumn camp: October14, 15, 16
Learning with the Seasons is a one-month long online course and a three-day camp where we learn about the interconnection of human and forest health. In this unique course and camp, we explore the importance of the turning seasons for our understanding of holistic and collective wellbeing. We learn how to change and transform our way of living by paying close attention to the cycles and rhythms of the seasonal land.
What will you learn
• Woodland stewardship and forestry with National Trust ranger Lee Walther. We will learn how to better understand and protect seasonal woodland ecosystems.
• Seasonal medicine. We will learn from expert practitioner Mahesh Mathapati the underlying connection between seasons, land and the human body according to Ayurvedic medicine.
• Seasonal foods with Sarah Poss, we will learn about cooking and dietary practices that draw on local produce, foraging and other practices that observe the seasons.
• Seasonal flora and fauna. We will learn to identify different animals and plants in the woodland according to the seasons.
• Season and senses with forest school practitioner Emma Beard. We will discover the changing seasons of the forest, activating and enhancing our sensory understanding and connection with the living woodland.
• Movement Harmony. We will practice "chromatherapy" or seasonal colour therapy and movement harmony with Laban trained Movement Psychologist Nicolas Salazar Sutil.
• Seasonal festivities. We will learn how to gain a sense of connection with land, memory and belonging through the seasonal lore with award-winning author Sharon Blackie.