Slow Living Resolutions with Stephen Smith from Onda Wellness
Today Stephen Smith from Onda Wellness talks to us about his journey to creating his inspiring CBD oil business, he describes how, like nature, growing a conscious business takes time and how he has learnt to incorporate the slowness of nature into his everyday lifestyle. He also explains to us the principles and importance of biodynamic farming and how his lifelong connection to the cannabis plant influenced him to create Onda.
“Throughout my life I’ve found it difficult to slow down, possibly driven by the fear of missing out on an experience or adventure. However, there is no shortage of stimulation to constantly fill our consciousness and I’m choosing to create more space in my life. This can provide more of an opportunity for magic.”
First of all, can you tell us about your goals for 2022 when it comes to living a slower lifestyle?
Sometimes we have to say “no”. It feels counterintuitive to how I’ve lived, but slowing down means creating spaciousness. Throughout my life I’ve found it difficult to slow down, possibly driven by the fear of missing out on an experience or adventure. However, there is no shortage of stimulation to constantly fill our consciousness and I’m choosing to create more space in my life. This can provide more of an opportunity for magic. The magic we felt as children wandering around the woods worry free and truly tuned into the moments. I struggle like many of us to create boundaries with the constant technological connections, work responsibilities and distractions that flood our realities.
You grew up very much connected to nature – how has this continued to play a role in your life?
It has been at the core of just about every major life decision and many of my most meaningful relationships. You really get to know someone when you are in a remote part of the world and depend on one another to get out of the backcountry safely, for example. Or sharing those magical moments when the light is just right after a summer rain. I have always asked myself how I can be outside more, with less between me and the natural world.
Most of my jobs have revolved around recreation or agriculture, both allowing for that connection to nature to flourish and be foundational. I chose to buy bare land instead of a home so that I could experience the path of starting from scratch. I prefer space and view over stability and ease. I wanted to learn about the necessary systems, food, water, shelter, power etc. I wanted to know what we actually need to survive and thrive, not just what we are told we need. It feels completely insane at times, but what can be learned and felt through this process is irreplicable.
Have you found a connection to nature to be an active part of living a meaningful life?
I realized early at an early age (during a mushroom journey) that the truest reality I could feel was in nature. All that man has constructed was just a veneer to the living, breathing Earth we are a part of. When the stresses of this life test me I can always find myself again in the woods or waves.
How has your interest in biodynamic farming evolved as something so hugely important to you and to the foundations of Onda?
The principles of Biodynamic / Regenerative farming are parallel to the systems that are foundational in our business practice and model. Biodynamic farming treats the farm as a living creature, an ecosystem capable of self-sufficient regeneration and production. We see the body, farm and Earth in the same way. Onda is a mechanism to support the regeneration, harmony and vitality of each of these interconnected entities.
Biodynamic farming takes a lot more time and care than conventional farming – how do you find the patience to wait for the results?
I cannot speak for our farmers but being closely connected to them and having worked on Biodynamic / Regenerative farms I found it to be more in sync with the rhythms of nature. This conventional, industrial farming model is highly incongruous with these natural systems and is setting us up for environmental, social and economic catastrophe. Just like lots of conventional business models relies on heavy inputs to rapidly grow at the expense of substance or true nutrient density. This model doesn’t consider the impact on the land. Nature takes time and accepting how long it takes to build soil health or grow a truly conscious business also takes time. It is about adjusting our perception of time to be more aligned with the reality of nature, not the construction of industrial models.
Do you find the results, when they do happen, to be more powerful?
Yes! More flavor, more nutrients, more expressive characteristics and ultimately a healthier surrounding ecosystem.
Why did you want to work specifically within the world of hemp oils?
My biology has always aligned with the cannabis plant. My fire and intensity found a soothing mate with the benefits of the plant. I grew cannabis in the woods as a teenager and wrote my highschool senior thesis paper on the expansive historical context and varied benefits of the hemp plant in 1999. I was shocked to realize that this very generous plant was not being used in our modern world since the propaganda and subsequent prohibition in the early 20th century. I was shocked and pissed! 17 years later I had an “ah ha” moment while traveling home for the holidays after blending some homemade hemp CBD oil with herbs and tea. I knew it was time to dive in and explore the potential of this ancient medicine.
“Biodynamic farming treats the farm as a living creature, an ecosystem capable of self-sufficient regeneration and production. We see the body, farm and Earth in the same way. Onda is a mechanism to support the regeneration, harmony and vitality of each of these interconnected entities.”
How can Onda oils help with relaxation and slowing our quite hectic lifestyle paces?
Onda oil is made using a slow infusion process with verified regenerative and certified biodynamic hemp. A very different process than any other products on the market. These differentiators allow us to offer a more nutrient dense product that is ultimately more effective. Our bodies produce endocannabinoids that are a mirror molecule to the phytocannabinoids in Onda oil. These cannabinoids help our bodies get back to centerline or homeostasis. What results is less anxiety, better sleep, less inflammation and general well being.
We read that you want to make hemp a plant that is used in many different outlets – why is it such a versatile and good thing to grow?
It is a weed. 🙂 Unlike other “superfoods” or limited natural resources, this crop grows in many parts of the world under varying conditions with little infrastructure. It sequesters more carbon than just about any crop and the different strains can be used for everything from insulation to clothing to bioplastics to food to medicine. We are using hemp on our partner farm to help as an ecological and financial diversification crop. It helps their bottom line while also helping to draw down carbon and add nutrient diversity. They grow food first and foremost and integrate hemp as a rotation crop.
It is a miracle crop that was suppressed by the paper industry and the government. But we have coevolved with it and it is time to integrate it back into the agricultural ecosystem and consumer markets.
How do you pace yourself when it comes to your goals of creating something so large within the industry of hemp and it’s amazing properties?
What does that word “pace” mean? Haha. I’m just learning how to pace myself honestly. I have historically charged ahead until I reached burnout then moved on to the next project but with this revolutionary opportunity I’m learning more self care. I see the long game finally. It feels like my life’s work. We have no plans of creating something “large” necessarily however I do realize that if we maintain this model we can have a larger more significant impact in people’s health as well as converting conventional land to organic / regenerative / biodynamic. We don’t want to be too exclusive or unapproachable. I think we can continue to be the highest quality hemp plant medicine on the planet while growing the mission to help more people and land. The beautiful thing about being a part of a pioneering industry is that we are not restricted to the BS models that have put small organic family farms out of business, cut corners, marginalized people and communities etc for a bigger profit. So far, our model seems to be doing all the things we want it to do; we just need endurance.
“Nature takes time and accepting how long it takes to build soil health or grow a truly conscious business also takes time. It is about adjusting our perception of time to be more aligned with the reality of nature, not the construction of industrial models.”
What are the simple pleasures that give you the greatest joy?
Surfing, dappled light, good food, romance, sunrise, my dog Butch.
What does an ideal slow morning routine look like for you?
Getting out of bed whenever I want, maybe some dog cuddles, some yoga then maybe a long meditation. Make some mushroom coffee and a big breakfast. Read, lay in the hammock, catch up with loved ones.
What does an ideal slow evening routine look like for you?
Maybe a nice meal with good wine and candles.
As we enter 2022 with a hope that people will begin to embrace slower ways of living, can you give us all one tip for how to embrace a slower style of life?
Consider being inspired by the rhythms of nature. They don’t rush.
Words from Stephen Smith, CEO & Founder @onda.wellness