In this episode of Waking Up With Melissa Ruiz, I welcome a very special guest, Katherine Fotiades. She is the owner of Skydog Farm, an artist, educator, community weaver, and, as it turns out, my first Harvest Host on my van life adventure! From the wonders of plant medicine, to an intimate reflection on The Rainbow Gathering, all the way to the life-changing impact of the Ram Dass Fellowship, listen in as Katherine takes us down her inspiring decades-long journey as a community weaver!
A BREAKDOWN OF THIS EPISODE
[01:20] How immersion in the New Age movement in the 90s led Katherine to Skydog Farm
[07:26] Turning Skydog Farm into a refuge for travelers
[14:22] Katherine recounts her fascinating experience at a Rainbow Gathering in the 80s
[24:31] The impact of Ram Dass
[6:20] Cultivating our spirituality with plant medicine
Tell us about your work, what brought you to this beautiful land, and why you’ve opened your doors to van life-ers.
Katherine: Skydog Farm is in North Scituate, Rhode Island. These are Native lands. I actually grew up in the south of Rhode Island in the woods, and the woods became my solace and my friends. It was so freeing. I was brought up in the New Age movement in the 90s, and when I found shamanism and spirituality as a young adult navigating this period, I realized that all of it was about nature. This is my religion. As a healer, my dream has always been: Put me in the woods and let people come to me—a refuge for others.
What are your hopes as you continue to invite more people to this land?
Katherine: I’ve been a gardener forever and was always connected to nature as a kid. I’m self-taught through direct experience. Working with herbs is what I call “living meditation”. It helps me heal. It helps me attune and focus. Serving that dharma of mine of becoming a refuge and being of service includes sharing this sweet little two-acre piece of land with others so that they feel that same sense of sanctuary and solace that I do. This is the time to embrace the feminine energy of beauty, the arts, compassion, and moving up to that heart chakra. How do we move beyond just surviving?
Talk to me about your background as a rainbow kid.
Katherine: I grew up in the counterculture world of the 80s. I remember when I was at the 20th anniversary of Woodstock. It was late at night and I was gathered around a fire with these hippies. There was all this chatter about “the rainbow family is coming”. So, this “rainbow family” has a wonderful annual gathering called “The Rainbow Gathering” at which they go to a National Park for three weeks. You’d have all of these little villages in the park with their own kitchens and everybody serves one another for free. When I joined a gathering, I just so happened to walk into the Hari Krishna kitchen. They were baking bread in these wood-fired ovens made out of old oil tanks. There was no money, everybody did what they wanted, they were eco-conscious, and the dream of world peace was on everyone’s minds. It was the place to be. The rainbow family was my introduction into “possibility”.
How did you get introduced into the Ram Dass Fellowship and how are you weaving your experience into Skydog Farm?
Katherine: Ram Dass has been in my life directly and intentionally basically since I moved here six years ago. Ram Dass is initially a way to return to our roots, to the Earth, with the use of plant medicine; but, then, we are encouraged to keep going on this journey without having to rely on plant medicine. I’m a creative and deep person, and Ram Dass before he had a stroke was a very philosophical and eloquent person. His message is to love everyone, serve everyone, feed everyone, and tell the truth. He fed my head as well as my heart. Like all my other teachers, he came at the right time for me. I had four grown children and was now on this land. I was entering the Crone Stage of my life. I needed to move away from physical work and towards curating wisdom. This physical body will not always be here, so how do I teach others or share the seed of this experience? We are unique and we all are that one limitless light and energy and thing that is nameless. Darkness is just the absence of light. It is not “this” or “that”. It’s “this and that and more”! What we need to learn is “unity”, and yoga has been a big help in teaching me that. As a community weaver, this is medicine that I want our society to really cultivate. That is part of what we want to offer here, with our retreats, with plant medicine. We need to know that we’re not apart from nature, but that we are nature. We work to become enlightened not for ourselves, but for all of humanity.
Learn more about Katherine Fotiades and Skydog Farm:
Visit their website: www.skydogfarm.com
Follow them on Instagram: www.instagram.com/skydogfarmri
Our farmer friends you visited: