Stephen Smith of Onda Wellness tells us how he keeps centered.
Stephen Smith's raw demeanor undulates between something of a soft stone skipped happily out at sea and the cool touch of earth that covers an antiquated treasure just glowing above the surface. His passion for the betterment of our planet and the improvement of community sings at the hem of each stitch which holds his life experiences together and has inevitably brought him to where he is now; The driving force behind Onda Wellness and an outstanding advocate for regenerative practices at each corner of our lives.
Who are you, where are you from, and what do you do?
My name is Stephen Smith; I'm originally from North Carolina - sixth generation hillbilly and live here in rural northeast Oregon; and I make and sell regeneratively sourced hemp and herbal plant medicine products. The company is called Onda, and we've been around for five and a half years, and we have the world's first Biodynamic and regenerative CBD oil, so there's a very passionate commitment to farm sourcing and doing good for both people and the planet.
What has been your journey towards discovering regenerative agriculture?
I grew up exposed to rural America around my grandmother's farm and my parents growing and harvesting their food. Still, it wasn't until 2010, when I started apprenticing with an organic winemaker who was using a lot of animal integration and bio-diversity to bring vitality and life to where he was growing grapes and food, that I was exposed to more holistic systems. After a few years in the wine business, I took a job in Colorado at the first Biodynamic farm and Organic distillery in the United States as their director of business development. This was where things went to the next level on my journey. I started to see, feel, and taste how these kinds of closed-loop systems work and the quality they produce; it is also where I gained a deep understanding and respect for the importance of symbiotic relationships between plants and animals to create these super vital ecosystems.
After moving on from my position at the distillery, I then worked for a large cattle ranch as a ranch hand and was honored with the experience of witnessing firsthand what rotational grazing could do for a large landscape. It was incredible; all you had to do was look across the fence line and see the difference in the density of grasses. Not too long after this experience, I started Onda with an inspiration to pioneer regenerative hemp. I kept noticing that no one was doing this and was baffled as to why hemp wasn't grown alongside veggies, herbs, and polycultures of animals as an ecological and financial bumper crop for food producers. This is what brought me to where I am today.
How has your relationship to regenerative agriculture informed your approach to physical and spiritual well-being?
I'd say it all goes back to the Onda mission: to heal people, empower farmers, and support the regeneration of the earth. We need a balanced diet; we need diversity in our social circles; we need to follow the patterns of nature and honor them. I think this can be achieved through regenerative practices and principles applied to all aspects of living; the first is consuming highly nutrient-dense foods on the earth. Doing so transfers higher energy onto the body, and the body then passes that power on to our other environments; Social, communal, spiritual/psychological…I guess I geek out on these concept models and apply them to different areas of life, and find that it brings balance and harmony to the way I move about my path.
As a side note, we need to address the ambiguity in the notion of "sustainability" because it's a joke. Sustaining something as opposed to degrading something is better than not at all. Still, we are below par if we nurture a negative point or a previously degraded trajectory. We need to improve things where they need to be improved upon, which is where regeneration comes into play.
What self-care rituals do you partake in weekly and daily that ensure you live and give your best energy? How does Summer Solace Tallow play a role in this?
I would say that a morning meditation has been beneficial for me to align the different pieces of my life together, so getting my head, heart, and body synced in alignment has been life-changing. Also, being outside most of the time is always a healing reminder of our actual reality, which is nature. Trail running, swimming in the cold lake near my property, taking care of the land, re-creation…it profoundly nourishes and inspires me in a way that provides the energy I need to thrive. As for Summer Solace Tallow, I'm in the sun all the time on the prairie and am solar-powered, so I love using the tallow balm to heal and seal my skin after being outside in the elements. I also don't have a shower, so I use the lakes and the rivers with Summer Solace's biodegradable soap for bathing in the lakes and rivers. It's a pretty unconventional life, but It brings me joy, and I am here for it.
What experience has nourished you most in the last month?
It's a little basic, but being able to run in the trails in the forest, then hike and jump into this crystal clear glacier lake at the end of town, I'm not religious, but it's like my baptism. It washes and re-sets me and clears my head in ways that feel deeply regenerative. If I'm feeling stressed or down, that lake is always there for me, so being in that cool water every time brings me up and makes me feel alive.
Thank you, Stephen, for your time, energy, and all you do. Your lifestyle and mission inspire us to support regenerative agriculture and Regenerative Hemp.
Find Onda Wellness full-spectrum, concentrated, regenerative hemp in our Traumabalm Tallow CBD Balm.
Shop Stephen's Edit