12 episodes

The health of humans and the planet are interconnected. Across industries, the forward march of progress has led to practices that, despite being proven as harmful, continue to proliferate. Fortunately, individuals and companies around the world have been innovating solutions that prioritize human and planetary health over profit. Join host Melissa Bloom, Founder of The Sisters Bloom, for inspirational conversations with the people reforming their industries with eco-conscious values and proving that, even in our modern world, it’s possible—and necessary—to live in alignment with Nature.

Return to Nature The Sisters Bloom

    • Business
    • 5.0 • 2 Ratings

The health of humans and the planet are interconnected. Across industries, the forward march of progress has led to practices that, despite being proven as harmful, continue to proliferate. Fortunately, individuals and companies around the world have been innovating solutions that prioritize human and planetary health over profit. Join host Melissa Bloom, Founder of The Sisters Bloom, for inspirational conversations with the people reforming their industries with eco-conscious values and proving that, even in our modern world, it’s possible—and necessary—to live in alignment with Nature.

    11. Healing in Harmony with Monica Aben

    11. Healing in Harmony with Monica Aben

    In this episode of Return to Nature, Melissa interviews singer songwriter Monica Aben about how her healing journey impacted her creative journey.

    Hailing from California, Monica's musical journey began at a young age, mastering the piano and guitar while growing up in a music-loving and rhythm-filled home. Her music exudes passion, authenticity, and a profound love for life's adventures. Monica defines success as being wholly authentic and creating music and art that resonates with her audience, regardless of societal expectations. She has performed at notable events like the Future Echoes Festival in Sweden and Camden Club in London.

    Her latest EP reflects her passion for regenerative farming and holistic health. Inspired by the brand of the same name after attending their “What Good Shall I Do?” conference, her single, Force of Nature, shares a message of honoring and reconnecting to nature. 

    Monica Shares


    Her musical upbringing learning piano by ear rather than by learning to read sheet music 
    The health obstacle that changed the course of her life as a teenager
    The teachers who helped to nurture her creativity rather than forcing her to fit high school’s mold 
    How she rejected the stereotype that artists must suffer to be good or successful and chose to create wholesome music
    How her music career started immediately after high school in Nashville
    Her first songwriting collaboration experience with Adam Shoenfeld, Tim McGraw’s guitarist, and how that led to finishing her first record album 
    How establishing deeper relationships with collaborative partners can lend to the songwriting experience 
    How to keep your own voice in tact when collaborating with others
    Following your intuitive creative process to avoid overproducing
    Thew functional medicine doctor who catalyzed her healing when her symptoms came back and how that led her to realize how our environment contributes to human health
    How she found Force of Nature meats when her healing required eating a carnivore diet
    Why she attended the “What Good Shall I Do?” conference and how that inspired her recent album
    Being receptive to inspiration and ideas from unexpected places
    How human design has helped her understand herself and her creative process
    How true healing in our toxic world can be expensive and inaccessible to most, but also how we can use our gifts and creativity to empower and educate people on health

    You Can Connect with Monica through her music:

    Website: www.monicaaben.com

    Instagram: @monicaaben

    Spotify: Monica Aben



    Intro/Outro Music by Ken Belcher

    • 59 min
    10. Shepherding Soil Health with Amanda Shine of Roving Ram Ranch

    10. Shepherding Soil Health with Amanda Shine of Roving Ram Ranch

    In this episode of Return to Nature, Melissa interviews Amanda Shine, a shepherd, teacher, and researcher passionate about soil health and regenerative agriculture. She and her husband Seth established Roving Ram Ranch in 2019 and provide affordable meat, wool products, and adaptive grazing services for local landowners who need their land regenerated. 

    Amanda started her livestock career working on Wisconsin dairies and attending the Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy Farmers, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has degrees in Biology (B.A.), Agriculture (B.S.), and Agronomy (M.S.), with coursework for the latter degrees focused on rangeland ecology and management. She also raised Savannah and Boer meat goats for many years, using them for grazing projects in both Oklahoma and Nebraska. 

    After six years operating Roving Ram Ranch in Montana’s Flathead Valley, Amanda and Seth are moving operation to Texas, where they will continue Roving Ram Ranch while Amanda has an assistantship at Texas A&M involving grazing research.



    Amanda Shares:


    How she began pursuing sustainable agriculture in her early life
    How she integrated her academic career with her practical hands-on experience
    Why she and her husband Seth chose to raise sheep when they moved to Montana 
    The revenue streams possible from raising sheep
    How regenerative contract grazing works
    Sheep’s ability to detoxifying  toxic plants and how they discern what to eat and leave
    Fred Provenza’s research on how animals forage and mix plants for maximum benefits
    All about livestock guardian dogs  
    The logistics of rotational grazing 
    The lambing process and giving back to the community by providing affordable clean meat to those who otherwise could not afford it
    Her experience teaching soil and water health management 
    The importance of educating and empowering farmers to steward the land and use regenerative practices to heal the Earth
    What sheep are really like
    The sheep breeds they raise and why
    The process of shearing 
    How rotational grazing aids the health of the sheep as well as the land
    The experiential research process of rotational grazing to meet specific goals for a landowner
    The regenerative strategy of feeding on pasture during winter to load the soil with organic matter
    Understanding Ag as an educational resource for regenerative farming 
    Her assistantship at Texas A&M involving grazing research



    You can connect with Amanda through Roving Ram Ranch:

    Website: www.rovingramranch.com

    Instagram: @rovingramranch

    Email: rovingramranch@gmail.com



    Intro/outro music by Ken Belcher

    • 1 hr 15 min
    09. Creating with the Earth with Melissa Bloom

    09. Creating with the Earth with Melissa Bloom

    In the first episode recorded in the studio’s new sound room, join Melissa for her second solocast where she talks about the Earthing project and all that went into it. Animated during the studio’s renovation, there is much more to this video than meets the eye. Get the behind the scenes scoop on the start of the new studio space and the growth that has been happening in the background of the renovation.



    Melissa is the founder of The Sisters Bloom, an eco-conscious stop-motion animation studio.



    Melissa Shares




    How strange it is that the New Year is in the middle of Winter 
    How a downshooter works and all about the studio’s new downshooter
    The Intellytech lights she used for the original downshooter, which are still being utilized on the new one differently
    Working with the downshooter’s designer and builder, Lee Peffer, of Nodal Engineering
    Why she uses Museum glass as opposed to other types of glass
    The intricacies of lighting a downshooter 
    The unique nature of the stop-motion industry that means talent goes where the jobs are and work for many studios rather than only one
    The importance of having a breadth of skill sets and knowledge of all roles rather than specializing in just one
    Melissa’s experience with internships and her decision to start an apprenticeship program at the studio in order to nurture local talent and foster long-term working relationships
    How her interview with Clint Ober led to the creation of the Earthing video
    The conceptual possibilities of aligning projects with the studio’s mission
    The process of foraging for leaves and rocks
    How to preserve leaves 
    Her method of foraging to honor the life of the trees and Earth
    Working with paper leather to make mini moccasins and sneakers
    Organic Cotton Plus as a resource for paper leather and natural fabrics
    Natural Earth Paint’s plant-based acrylik medium as a heat activated glue
    The talent that helped to create the Earthing video



    You can connect with Melissa through The Sisters Bloom:

    Website: www.thesistersbloom.com

    Instagram: @sistersbloomstudios

    Pinterest: @thesistersbloom

    Email: growwithus@thesistersbloom.com

    Intro/Outro music by Ken Belcher

    • 49 min
    08. Weaving Fact into Fiction with Alex Woodard of Ordinary Soil

    08. Weaving Fact into Fiction with Alex Woodard of Ordinary Soil

    In this episode of Return to Nature, Melissa interviews author and singer-songwriter Alex Woodard about his latest book, Ordinary Soil. After meeting triple board certified MD, Zach Bush, on an island in Fiji right as the COVID-19 pandemic was sweeping the world, Alex was inspired by Zach’s mission of finding root cause solutions for human and ecological health and the importance of the soil microbiome as it relates to health, disease, and food systems. Once he got home, Alex set out to fictionalize the history and science behind our modern day agricultural systems and bring to life the plight of the farmer from the 1800’s up to modern day.



    As a singer-songwriter, Alex has toured nationally behind several critically acclaimed albums, earning a few prestigious industry nods while sharing the stage with some of his heroes. His For the Sender book, album, and concert series has garnered praise from Huffington Post (“important, enlightening, and ultimately inspiring”), Deepak Chopra (“a beautiful tribute to the resilience of the human spirit”), Dr. Wayne Dyer (“an inspiring, thought-provoking, and life-changing work”), and Billboard magazine (“one of the year’s most touching, unique releases”), among others.



    Alex lives with four horses, two dogs, two chickens, and two beautiful humans on a small ranch near the California coast. He is donating a percentage of the proceeds of Ordinary Soil to Farmer’s Footprint.



    Alex Shares:

    - His musical upbringing recreating popular songs

    -The coworker at a start-up internet company that opened the world of Seattle music to him

    -The fan letter that changes the trajectory of his career 

    -How he got his first publishing deal as his work became in service of others

    - Why he chose to self publish his memoirs after experiencing traditional publishing

    - How he met triple board certified MD, Zach Bush, on an island in Fiji on the cusp of the pandemic

    -The Rich Roll podcast interview where Zach shares the history of chemical and mechanical farming that planted the initial seed for Ordinary Soil

    - How his creative process for song writing informs his process for novel writing 

    - Why he made up his own songs for the book

    -Creating an interactive experience with reading and music for the book’s release 

    - How he researched to write Ordinary Soil and how doctor Zach Bush and farmer Gail Fuller helped

    -  The reality of farmer suicide rates and how he explored the topic in the book

    - The necessity for storytelling to connect people to the issues we’re facing rather than relying solely on statistical facts

    - The importance of stream-of-consciousness writing and letting your ideas flow without censoring or editing yourself

    - The speech technique that Wayne Dyer used to make sure he said everything he wanted to while still being in the moment

    - The sequel to Ordinary Soil that he is working on now

    - His experience with hybrid publishing versus self and traditional 

    - The factor of luck in success no matter how much talent someone has

    - How creating in service of others changed the trajectory of his career and success

    - How his friendship with Zach Bush motivated him to get Zach’s message out in a creative way through Ordinary Soil 

    -The Forbes article he mentions



    You can connect with Alex through his creative works

    Website: www.alexwoodard.com

    Website: www.ordinarysoil.com

    Instagram: @ordinarysoil



    Intro/Outro Music by Ken Belcher

    Sound Mix by Andrew Pals

    • 1 hr 11 min
    07. Studio Rebirth: An Eco-Conscious Renovation with The Bloom Sisters

    07. Studio Rebirth: An Eco-Conscious Renovation with The Bloom Sisters

    Melissa sits down again with her sister, Ale, of Ale Life and Design to discuss their collaboration in renovating and restoring The Sisters Bloom’s new studio space in downtown Kalispell. A 1949 cinderblock warehouse last renovated in 1992, the building was in need of some love. The sisters reflect on the process of bringing Melissa’s overall vision for the space to life and how Ale’s unique design expertise supported the studio’s values throughout the renovation.



    Melissa + Ale Share:

    -Appreciating the historical aspects of the building and the necessity of restoration projects in a city with a high percentage of new developments

    -The similarities between general contracting and directing animation productions

    -Flathead Valley local Dave Fischlowitz’s referral to Preserve Montana for restoring the steel casement windows

    -How re-insulating the building with mineral wool will help increase its energy efficiency 

    -Snowsound acoustic panels Melissa currently uses as a sound treatment to record the podcast

    -The acoustic cork treating the studio’s sound room from Jelinek Cork Group

    -How choosing eco-conscious materials for the renovation differed from choosing for the studio’s projects

    -The lighting choices they made to make the space bright, natural, and healthy for crew, including non-flicker LEDs from Cree Lighting

    -The conscious decision to keep smart devices and wifi to a minimum and the importance of remediating the studio of non-native frequencies (nnEMFs)

    -EMF Solutions, the company whose products the sisters trust for remediating the studio

    -Earthing’s grounding mats as an alternative and supplement to remediation

    -Working with Legendary Finishes to source wooden doors through the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) with an Italian zero-VOC coating by Renner and Karcher hardware

    -Handmade ceramic tiles from eco-friendly brand FireClay for the bathrooms

    - The concrete sinks for the bathrooms from Concretti

    -Choosing a high pile natural wool carpet for the sound room to dampen sound

    -Flooring by Välinge engineered hardwood

    -How they worked with Northwest Cabinet Works to choose sustainable cabinets from Egger for the kitchen and the mudroom cubbies, designed to keep the studio clean through the Winter months

    - The ozone laundry system that kills bacteria and germs so that the studio’s reusable towels stay clean

    -Why they chose Live Pristine, the remineralizing under sink RO system, for the studio’s drinking water

    -Uncovering the conservationist building practices of the early 1900’s



    Follow along to learn more about the renovation:

    Ale Life and Design

    www.alelifeanddesign.com

    @alelanaebloom

    The Sisters Bloom

    www.thesistersbloom.com

    @sistersbloomstudios



    Into/Outro music by Ken Belcher

    • 1 hr 6 min
    06. The Alchemy of Natural Color with Sasha Duerr

    06. The Alchemy of Natural Color with Sasha Duerr

    In this episode of Return to Nature, Melissa interviews Sasha Duerr about natural color and how we can participate in transforming our food and fashion systems. Sasha is an artist, designer and educator who works with plant-based color and natural palettes. She centers her practice and research on the collaborative color potential of weeds, food and floral waste, and local and seasonal ingredients. 

    Sasha has taught for over a decade at California College of Arts with a joint appointment in Textiles and Fine Arts. She lectures, consults and widely designs curriculum and courses in the intersection of natural color, slow food, slow fashion and social practice. In 2007, Sasha founded Permacouture Institute to encourage the exploration of regenerative design practices for fashion and textiles. Her extensive work with plant-based palettes has been featured in many publications and she is also the author of  The Handbook of Natural Plant Dyes (Timber Press/Workman 2011) NATURAL COLOR (Watson-Guptill/Ten Speed Press 2016) and NATURAL PALETTES (Princeton Architectural Press 2020).

    Sasha Shares:


    Her upbringing and its influence on her passion for natural dyes
    How she merged her passions for art and the environment for her education and career path
    How she began her own process of learning around making natural pigments after the standard painting materials made her sick
    The history and significance of textiles, especially in relation to women and indigenous people
    The grant she received in collaboration with her sister and Amanda Rieux, the edible schoolyard garden teacher at UC Berkeley in the early 2000’s, to use compost as art material
    Using the principles of sensory experiences to empowering people to begin creating with Nature when they otherwise wouldn’t think of it or want to.
    The disconnect between consumers and the origins of food and fast fashion
    The similarities between cooking and making natural dyes 
    Bringing regenerative concepts back into textiles and clothing 
    Her non-profit, the Permacouture Institute
    Events like “Weeding Your Wardrobe” to promote upcycling clothing and weeds
    The art and science of natural dyeing, from plant identification to pH and mordants
    Her slow food partnership in Sicily, Italy and seasonal place-based color
    Her work with Mae-ling Lokko and the Yale School of Architecture on a multi-year grant called "Soil Sisters"
    Fibershed.org as a resource for regenerative textiles
    The Or Foundation
    The concept of “Craft of Use” from Kate Fletcher, who also coined “Slow Fashion”

    You can connect with Sasha through personal channels:

    Wesbite: www.sashaduerr.com  

    Instagram @sashaduerr

    Email: info@sashaduerr.com 

    Intro/Outro Music by Ken Belcher

    • 53 min

Customer Reviews

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A Must-Listen: ‘Return to Nature’ Dives Deep with Eco-Pioneers Who Inspire

If you’re passionate about the environment and innovative approaches to sustainability, then the “Return to Nature” podcast is an absolute must-listen. Hosted by the engaging Melissa Bloom of The Sisters Bloom, whose soothing voice alone is a reason to tune in, this podcast is a pleasure to listen to, thanks to the palpable passion and inspiration that each guest brings to the conversation. Featuring eco-conscious pioneers from a diverse array of industries—from regenerative farming to creative fields like music and stop motion animation—each episode is filled with enlightening insights and revolutionary ideas. These guests are not only breaking the status quo, they’re also finding ways to pursue their passions while living in alignment with nature, offering valuable lessons in an era where technology often leaves us feeling more disconnected than ever. The conversations are so rich and invigorating that you’ll find yourself eagerly awaiting the next episode, more educated and inspired to make a positive impact on the earth. For anyone who cares deeply about our Mother Earth and creative solutions to its challenges, “Return to Nature” offers a compelling blend of education and inspiration.

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