17 thoughts on “Mercado Sagrado & a disconnect

  1. Hmm. They ripped off the Big Sur Pledge without permission. Altered it and then use it to market a class in damaging the coastline. Who are these people???????

  2. this sort of thing is everywhere along the coast; it reeks of a sort of creeping exploitation of the natural world for personal monetary gain.

  3. “We chatted with the healing arts festival creator on finding your truth, building community, and the power of creativity” from a website about Heather Culp, founder of Mercado Sagrado with photos taken of her at home in Topeka Canyon. What is the benefit to the Big Sur Community and its precious natural environment from an event like this?

  4. From the National Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary…
    “Leave everything as you found it. Strict laws govern collecting tide pool life. Enjoy seashore life in its natural environment and leave the plants and animals exactly as you found them.”

  5. These people are to nature what TV evangelists are to spirituality. Makes my skin crawl.

  6. Hello Kate,

    I tried to post the below as a comment on your Mercado Sagrado blog post, but not sure if it went through? Maybe too long? Please advise?

    By the way, I feel hugely indebted to your blog over the years and want to thank you for your work protecting and informing Big Sur.


    My husband Fletcher and I lived in Big Sur for 7 years until bridge collapse. Fletcher was garden teacher at Captain Cooper and I was farm coordinator at Esalen. Last year we founded our wilderness education program Wildtender, focused on cultivating nature connection and reciprocal relationship with California wild lands.

    We organized this Seaweed workshop in partnership with Mercado Sagrado and are excited about the opportunity to educate people about intertidal / kelp forest ecology and the complex considerations around sustainably and ethically harvesting for personal food & medicine use. I hope to clarify our intent/approach and hopefully bridge the disconnect this blog post suggests. Please read on! 🙂

    We have been in touch with both Fish & Wildlife and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary agencies to ensure we operate and educate in compliance with local regulations for this workshop. While the Marine Sanctuary does promote conservation principles to the public, they do not regulate or prohibit kelp harvesting. Fish & Wildlife is the primary regulatory agency for this. [The broad strokes are that people with licenses are allowed to recreationally harvest up to 10 pounds of wet kelp, only in areas that are not Marine Protected Areas, not cutting more than four feet below the ocean’s surface, and not harvesting protected species like sea palm, surf grass and eel grass.]

    The teacher of this workshop, Tanya Stiller, is a longtime seaweed harvester and herbal educator whose ethical guidelines go above and beyond the basic regulations of Fish & Wildlife (in our opinion!). You can read the guidelines that inspire her work here: https://www.seaweedtours.org/blog/beyond-bucks-10-ways-to-make-a-difference

    Tanya advocates for assessing over many years the complex relationships between organisms in the intertidal and subtidal zones, and how they are impacted by factors like humans and climate change in order to make thoughtful decisions around harvesting and ecosystem support. For example, even though it’s technically legal to harvest kombu, she advocates against it because the abalone populations that feed on kombu are in decline.

    I hope this helps demystify the workshop and clarify that this is not intended as an exploitation of Big Sur’s precious natural resources… quite the opposite! Because people are drawn to Big Sur, we hope to engage this landscape as a site for expansion of ecological awareness. Our project is aspirationally named Wildtender after the indigenous land stewardship paradigm of “tending the wild”: humans participating in a mutually beneficial way with the environment, in support of all species and maximum biodiversity.

    Since someone took issue with our tuition fee, I’ll share that it costs a surprising lot to operate with integrity as a small-scale wilderness education org — paying teachers living wages, sourcing organic sustainable meals, covering wilderness insurance, permits, first responder certifications, etc. Please trust me when I say we are not making big bucks on our project whatsoever, I don’t recommend becoming a wilderness educator if you want to make money! 🙂 We usually offer 1-2 scholarship positions for every Wildtender program, and I am hopeful about growing our capacity to make pricing accessible for everyone in the future, especially locals.

    If you have further questions or concerns, I welcome the dialogue and am open to your input and insight. I can be reached here: noel@wildtender.com

    Thank you,

  7. Would recommend a “look but do not touch” to anything in the Marine Sanctuary. Period. There is little that is appropriate about the intention of this program.

  8. Why not just keep it simple, go to the market by some lettuce and have a nice salad .

  9. These kelp harvesters are extracting their “living wage” from the ocean, just like the fishing boats. The fishing crews are a lot less precious about it though! The last thing we need is for the influencers to decide that kelp juice is the new “elixer of youth”. You create a hot market for something, and then it is harvested, legally or not as we have seen with the dudleya craze. I bet most of the people who sign up for this have nothing wrong with them but affluenza.

  10. Building Community is essential to living in Balance again with our Earth. Why is it these events seem to focus on going to ‘other communities’ while not involving the local community where the event is held? Our planet needs people to get to know their neighbors, literally next door neighbors and work together, create a community garden, host a potluck and really get to know each other and learn how we can work together and support each other. I am reminded of the Winter of 2017 and the Big Sur Island. Esalen, and institute that touts social entrepreneurship on it’s website closed it’s doors- with a abundant garden/farm of plenty. Many locals were unable to get fresh organic produce for weeks. After a few months, the garden/farm crew did bring some amazing produce to the tap house for locals which was nice. A Community Potluck would have been a brilliant social entrepreneurial thing to do. With this Eco- centered month long festival happening in the Big Sur Village it would be nice if actual Big Sur community members were invited. Thoughts?

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