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Interviews 04 March 2021

Going Green with Indy Officinalis

We love new beginnings and warmer weather just as much as the next gal—so that’s why we’ve been staring out our windows as wistfully as Rapunzel, hoping that spring comes just a wee-bit faster, because we really, really are catching a case of outside FOMO, and these recent snowstorms just aren’t doing it for us.
But hey, at least for now we live vicariously through of one of our favorite ladies on Instagram, Indy Officinalis, whose current home base is LA. That’s right: Indy is not only a traveling soul and model, but also a sustainability activist and farmer-forager. So when she’s not inspiring us to embrace slow fashion and build more sustainable wardrobes, she’s working hard to create a BIPOC community urban farm in LA. We sat down to chat with her about finding inspiration in roaming the world, getting zen at home, and what she wears when she’s feeling most at peace (hint: it’s our Washable Silk in Peaceful Green).
Indy in the Peaceful Green Robe
How did foraging become your passion?

I've always loved observing and collecting bits of wilderness in everyday settings. Growing up, I used to pick dandelions on the soccer field and gathered poke berries to dye pieces of paper, hanging them to dry on tree branches in the woods beyond my home. I later learned this was called foraging when I was in herbal medicine school 5 years ago, and learned how to identify and sustainably harvest medicinal herbs and mushrooms. Most of my teenage and adult life, I was really shy, and wandering in the forest helped me learn how to emulate her patterns, to let bundled, green buds take the place of vibrant blooms and to allow leaves to unfurl in the face of gentle sun. Being able to share my knowledge and passion with my community—showing folks how they can use and gain sustenance from the natural world—has shown me the beauty of being a person in stewardship of both land and people.

Three green things you can’t live without…

Avocados, the feel of green moss under my bare feet, my pet frog, Tony.

Indy with flowers in Washable Silk
Favorite thing growing right now in your garden?

Marigolds! Growing up and going to Hindu temple with my father, we would often adorn the statue of Ganesh with marigold garlands; strands of crimson, gold, and burning yellow encircling Ganesh's neck like an ombre necklace of a late summer sunset. The smell of the flower in bloom mixed with incense and sweet desserts always made me feel really warm and safe. Now I grow them in the garden to give out fresh to folks that are living in the tents on Skid Row. Because the garden I steward is in the heart of the houseless population, I think it's important to bring vibrant and fragrant beauty to our community. For me, it's a little piece of home, a little piece of childhood. I've been told by the community that when dried, it makes the tents smell nice in the evenings.

What places, locations, or environments inspire you the most creatively?

I spend most of my days in the garden on Skid Row, so I'm incredibly inspired by the resilience of the community, of the proverbial dandelions growing in the cracks of the sidewalks, of the audacity to hope. In my free time, however, I love to get lost on the California coast, traipsing from the redwoods to the swirling cerulean oceanside. I find the ocean to be mesmerizing; I can stare for hours at the roaring waves crashing against black stone cliffs, like the way night whispers in the promise of dreams.

Indy with Flowers in Peaceful Green Lunya
Calmest time of day for you?

I feel most calm in the early hours when the sun forces shadows against the city sidewalk in the garden in the morning. The shadows of the flowers and herbs and vegetables seem larger than life, almost as big as the skyscrapers in the distance. It makes me feel like the city and garden are all blending into one.

April showers or May flowers?

April showers :)

Indy on couch in Lunya
Favorite way to squeeze in some leisure when you’re on the road?

It might sound odd, but I love to brush my teeth in places with beautiful views. Pulling over in Big Sur to brush my teeth over the roaring ocean or finding pine needle carpeted forest to floss in is one of my favorite ways to practice self care in nature (always using biodegradable herbal toothpaste of course!)

Winter-to-spring transition or spring-to-summer transition?

Spring to summer!

Indy with Coffee in Lunya Silk
Next passion project?

I'm working with a few friends on a really fun little foraging guide to urban foods and herbs found in and around Los Angeles. I'm so excited to be able to share this knowledge with my community!

One tip on how one can become more sustainable?

Grow your own herbs! Lots of dried and fresh herbs at the grocery store come in plastic packaging which ends up in our landfills (not to mention bunched herbs often have non-biodegradable rubber bands on them as well). Growing your own herbs, drying them, and storing them in glass jars will not only reduce your use of plastic, but will also reduce the use of harmful herbicides and pesticides used in commercial herb production.


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