Awakening the Land: Alsahwa

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Jo Walker has gone from working in the entertainment industry, mixing with rockstars to creating her own regenerative farm – educating others about the foundations of wellness starting with healthy soil, while giving back to the land. Rebecca Jamieson Dwyer visits the magical Alsahwa Farm in Verrierdale to discover all that’s on offer.

Cockatoos squawk overhead, kangaroos bound across undulating hills, and the leaves from hundreds of macadamia trees rustle gently in the breeze. Welcome to Alsahwa Farm, nestled in the Noosa hinterland.

This 100-year-old macadamia farm has been recently transformed by Jo Walker, an ex-entertainment industry executive who had an epiphany while staying at a wellness retreat in 2018 and decided to radically change her life, moving to Noosa from Melbourne and pivoting into the world of wellness.

But Alsahwa Farm isn’t predominantly about massages, meditation and ice baths (although these things will be part of its offering in the future) – it’s founded on the philosophy of ‘unstructured wellness’, a term coined by Jo herself.

“Unstructured wellness is something that’s accessible to us all – you don’t have to be in a retreat to experience it,” she shares. “You can immerse yourself in a forest, ground yourself by walking in bare feet, practise yoga by a lake, or connect with nature in another way.”

The core element of unstructured wellness, however, is literally an element: earth.

The soil beneath our feet is so commonplace, it’s easy to forget we depend on it for our food.

“Healthy soil is the key to everything,” says Jo. “It enables us to grow healthy, organic food, so we can nourish and fuel our bodies without chemicals.

“Moving your body through exercise and practising mindfulness are vital elements of wellness, but the foundation of health always comes back to the soil.”

Alsahwa has been three-and-a-half years in the making, with Jo putting her heart and soul into the property. A huge focus has been joining forces with local wildlife and wilderness groups to regenerate the area by planting over 1,000 trees.

“We’re joining different sections of the farm to our existing koala corridor for koalas and other animals to move safely and freely,” she says.

Elsewhere on the farm, the team have added beehives that are producing a unique blend of Alsahwa Farm honey; an organic kitchen veggie garden; the Secret Garden where you can meditate and plant a tree; and a stunning lookout with vistas over the hills, the perfect spot to enjoy a locally-sourced picnic as the sun sets.

The farm also has a permanent ‘flagship’ farm store at Eumundi Square Markets where the team sells Alsahwa Farm honey, herbs, plants, a selection of beautiful lifestyle books, and Alsahwa macadamias.

Alsahwa Farm officially opens on Saturday 27 April, with an exciting launch weekend packed with activities that give a taste of everything that’s on offer, including a beekeeping workshop; eco living workshop; a community tree planting; Terra Firma Dining Masterclass; a community film screening of actor and farmer

Rachel Ward’s film Rachel’s Farm followed by a Q+A with her and other likeminded regenerative farming personalities – and lots more.

There will also be other big names in the farming world, such as the woman Jo describes as “the godmother of Australian permaculture”, Robin Clayfield, who will be running an Introduction to Permaculture workshop; and friend of Alsahwa, eighth-generation farmer and regeneration advocate Charlie Arnott who will be running a two-day Introduction to Biodynamics workshop.

“It’s funny, because I used to idolise performers, but now I idolise regenerative farmers; they’re the real rockstars to me,” Jo says.

Young and old, everyone is welcome to attend the opening weekend, and Jo is looking forward to a vibrant community of like-minded people growing around the farm as it spreads its roots and begins to flourish.

Jo has big plans for the future, with an eco-wellness farmstay retreat currently in development. This will provide boutique accommodation for couples, singles and groups, and combine curated activities such as Breath, Fire and Ice workshops incorporating breathwork, infra red sauna and ice bath; massages, facials and other standard wellness offerings, with regenerative farming experiences, helping visitors connect with mind, body and planet.

The name Alsahwa comes from the ancient word meaning ‘the awakening’, which is something that resonates deeply with Jo and the way she sees the world.

“I always say some people are awake, and some people are still asleep, but we meet people at different stages of their journey,” she says. “We want to take people on a journey of conscious thinking that encompasses sustainability, holistic wellness and regeneration of the earth.”

Just like a closed-loop farming system creates healthy soil, Alsahwa coming to life is a bit of a full-circle moment for Jo.

Essentially, she’s created the space she was craving all those years ago.

“I always tell my friends who are still in the entertainment industry, ‘Guys, I’m creating this for you, for all of us,’” she says.

She hopes that everyone will feel welcome to visit and immerse themselves in this special place.

“Whoever you are and whatever your background, we can’t wait to welcome you to Alsahwa Farm and help you create that deep connection with the earth, your food and yourself.”

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