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Andrea & Matthias Reisen

Andrea and Matthias Reisen both grew up in eastern Pennsylvania. Although they went to the same high School, they didn’t meet until after Matthias had graduated college. He asked her to the movies that night, and three months later they were married. Perhaps even deeper than their love for each other is a shared love of plants and the earth; each enjoy a sacred spiritual connection to the land, animals, water and air - and while these connections are strong individually it seems to be focused and galvanized by their connection to one another.

When first married the pair spent two years in the Philippines with the Peace Corp. Matthias shared his knowledge regarding subsistence agriculture. Andrea, a master seamstress, worked with local women to market their handcrafts. 

When they returned to the states, Matthias worked as an agricultural agent in Stuben County. In 1982 they purchased a dairy farm in the hamlet of Wallace, NY and began raising children and cows. By 1989 it became clear that dairy farming was becoming economically inviable, so they sold the cows and began searching for another use for the land they had grown to love.

They apprenticed together under renown herbalist Rosemary Gladstar, and Matthias acted as Gladstar’s teaching assistant for eight years afterward. They also studied nature awareness and philosophy at Tom Brown’s tracker school, studying under Mr. Brown, Wallace Black Elk, and Karl Slick. Matthias completed a year long study of Biodynamic Agriculture at Pfieffer Center (sp?) where he developed a deeper understanding of the farm as a total organism including the spiritual aspects of how the movement of the sun, moon, and stars affect the soil, water, and growth of plants. 

Under their careful love, study, and attention Healing Spirits Herb Farm was born. It was important to them that they farm naturally, working in connection with the land. Healing Spirits was organic from the beginning, and received its organic certification in 1992.

As they dove deeper into the spirituality of the land and using plants heal the body they found it natural to begin studying bodywork as well. Andrea, in particular, is a student of healing modalities such as CranioSacral, Reiki, Zero Balance and Therapeutic touch.

Deeply respected in their field, Andrea and Matthias teach individually and as a pair at herbal and agricultural conferences throughout the US and Canada. After children were raised, Matthias traveled to Belarus, Nepal, Jamaica, Columbia, and the Dominican Republic to share information with other farmers regarding aromatic and medicinal plants, organic growing, solar drying, etc.

Day to day on the farm, it seems as if they are separate arms of a singular organism as they pour their energies into the land and the land returns. They act as two fisherman casting into the same pool of knowledge from different angles - and ones depth of knowledge always seems to pick up where the others ends. “Babe, I didn’t understand that, did you?” “Yes, let me explain…” is a conversation often heard with the two alternating between explainer and explainee. 

Matthias can often be found in muddy jeans with a pair of snips on his belt using the sacred tractor to work the land. Just as often Andrea can be found in the the apocothary’s industrial kitchen mixing custom teas, brewing tonics and tinctures, or making creams and lotions. They are happy to sit together with the rest of their staff to chat and strip bark. In the summer the store is left safely unattended as everyone heads outdoors to harvest and plant. In the winter, when many farms lay off their workers, projects are found to keep their workers employed (while still giving them plenty of time off to hunt.)  

As bodily needs are met, so too must spiritual needs, and they often gather with their friends in the community for sweat lodges, pipe ceremonies, yoga classes, or simply for tea. 

 

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