Nestled in the heart of Ibiza near San Matteo, amidst the rolling hills and sparkling Mediterranean sea, lies a plot unlike any other. Here, under the care and guidance of Nathalie Alice Blanche Barda, medical plants and herbs grow on a variety of soils. She is a true expert in the field of Permaculture, Phytotherapy and Aromatherapy that transforms these verdure into a beautiful selection of balms, liquids, cosmetics, and creams that are crafted for both health and beauty.
About Nathalie Alice Blanche Barda
Meet Nathalie, originally from Montpellier, is a globetrotter at heart, having traveled to the most exciting destinations across the globe, including New York and Asia, before settling on Ibiza over 25 years ago. A fun fact about her is that she used to be a go-go dancer on the island, but now she has dedicated her life to sustainable farming and educating others on how to live a healthy, beautiful life in harmony with Mother Nature. Her plot is a testament to the power of nature, and a shining example of how we can live in harmony with the world around us.
“When I was young I was so bored I escaped. Then I became curious and started to study. When I believed in democracy I worked at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. When I believed in information to be useful for the masses I worked as a journalist. When I believed enlightenment was the only interesting path, I went to study in Dharamsala. When I met Osho I realized that sex was the first step….but not the last. When I wanted to be closer to nature, I moved to Ibiza. When I believed in using my body for money I worked as a fitness instructor and go-go dancer in Ibiza nightclubs. When I believed that education was key, I built educational programs for children in jail. When I believed I could help people, I became a coach. When I finally accepted my woman incarnation, I became a mother. When I got my menopause I felt so relieved and free that I decided to devote the rest of my life studying plants.”
''Time is on my side''
Nathalie is not your typical grower, she takes a unique approach to her growing and harvesting methods. She's not afraid to experiment with different soils and growing techniques, even if it means some plants don't make it. She's all about that underground world and knows that what's happening below the surface is just as important as what's happening above it. When it comes to harvesting, Nathalie's goal is to have her plants and herbs growing autonomously, almost without her help. ‘’We will see how it goes, but I go very slow anyway. The time is on my side’’
She's always trying out different soils, like clay, sand, and even soil from different areas of Ibiza. Since she's got an angry neighbor who cut off her water supply, Nathalie's had to get creative with self-made greenhouses to keep her plants hydrated. Her plot is divided into five different levels, each with its own unique soil and testing methods. She keeps track of everything in her trusty notebook and knows every inch of her land like the back of her hand. And get this, she even built her own walls to keep the bigger animals and hunters from messing with her plants. Now that's what we call a true grower boss!
Go with the flow
She uses the trees already present on her plot as a foundation for her plants and herbs to grow and thrive independently. ‘’I use what already exists, I study this and that is my base. My base is not my knowledge, it’s the land’’. What's even more interesting is her belief that plants and herbs can either be accepted or rejected by the soil and Ibiza's nature. When a plant is rejected, she says it's "dead from above," but there's still a chance it may grow or support other plants underground.
Nathalie really goes with the flow of what she has on her land, experimenting with different soils and techniques to see what works best. The plot itself is a beautiful sight to behold, with a colorful array of herbs, and plants growing alongside imported seeds and trees from France. ‘’This cherry tree from France I put in the ground in November 2022 without any leaves, and one month later I could see that she accepted the immigration and that she was accepted by Mother Nature.’’
Ibiza has a very special ecosystem, which is not below sea level. At the moment trees are being cut while still alive. The old Ibiza used to be a fully autonomous island. A finca had its own agriculture, animals and ecosystem. People would go only once a week to a village to go to the church, or to sell their seeds. ‘’Some of this old Ibiza I studied, but it's very old. What happened in the last 15 years I do not trust, all is about economic objectives.’’
''Transformation is key''
While Nathalie is showing us her products that have been transformed from the plants of her land, she tells about what else makes her different compared to other growers: ‘’I see how people sell on other farms. They grow it, they cut it and then they sell it, straight into all those fancy salads. No, no, no. The secret is to make the transformation of the products, for tomatoes and for flowers. If you go to the markets you see local products everywhere. There is an overproduction in food and waste. And you know why? Because there is an abundance of products straight from the farm and they are not being transformed on the island.’’
Nathalie's vision for her plot is not to simply sell products, but to educate and inspire others to care for their inner health and beauty. She transforms her plants and herbs into a wonderful selection of balms, liquids, cosmetics, and creams that are crafted with love, care, but most importantly: with time and patience.
‘’I go poco a poco. I can do my business independently because I am a product chain myself, which is the fabrication of the products. I have my own farm, I pick the plants and herbs I need and transform them into the products and sell them at the Ibiza markets when I want.’’
How do you balance the demands of running a land with other aspects in your life, such as family or leisure activities?
‘’Ah. This is a very interesting question! Listen, I am 57 years old with a very low social aspiration to meet people, haha! I decided to study with full dedication to plants after being a model for years. But, two years ago, I learned how to play drums, so my social life is happening at the Benirras beach on Sunday, where I meet up with the drummers. Besides that, I don’t care so much.’’
‘’It is a very difficult walk, to go back down to the earth and to get back to working with your hands. When you work hard, you are alone in Ibiza. But actually I am not alone, because I communicate with the plants and I try to listen, to feel what is needed. So I am alone as a human, but I have guidance in what I do.’’
With a deep understanding of the moon cycles and the energy they bring, Nathalie works in harmony with the natural rhythms of the earth. ‘’You need to catch the smell alive’’, which reminds us of the German book ‘Perfume’ from Peter Suskind. Luckily it doesn’t go like in the book, but every month during the full moon at night, she harvests her plants and herbs, capturing their vitality and fertility in order to create her products. ‘’I know that I’m an alien’’ laughs Nathalie while preparing our matcha tea.
Nathalie Alice Blanche Barda is truly an inspiring individual. Her lifelong passion has been studying and utilizing medical plants and herbs to educate in health and wellness. What drove her to this path was a set of health issues that no doctor could solve without resorting to surgery. Determined to find a more natural solution, Nathalie delved deeply into plant-based medicine and used it to heal herself.
Once she was feeling better, she began sharing her knowledge and experience with others, advocating for natural remedies over chemical drugs. Her dedication to this lifestyle is evident in her choice to be a vegan for over 45 years. Nathalie has created a self-survival technique that consists of a list of 14 sentences that she lives by. ‘’In search of self-survival techniques I have a long list that I hold close to my heart. These include…
''To start understanding what my body is telling me. To master my wounds and turn them into strength. To look at pain and suffering as an opportunity to grow. To put my vulnerability and my sensitivity in service for others. To use my fears to become more conscious in my everyday life. To learn how to adapt in order to enjoy each day.
To respect and worship my temple, my body. To seat and breath from my nostril, my life center. To accept that my guts can be more clever than my brain and carry all my cellular memory to play with my limits because my freedom depends on it. To challenge my comfort zone regularly not to get old too fast. To know what is good or not for my health and be able to help my body heal itself.
To learn how to put rituals to help my organs in their purifying process. To get my power back because I know how to restore my energy. To regain my sovereignty by becoming friends with my body again.”
Pictures: Medsea Studio
About Banc De Terres D'Eivissa
Nathalie receives support and assistance from the Banc De Terres D'Eivissa, also known as The Landbank, which helps local farmers connect and take agricultural land into the custodianship of landowners, which make it accessible to new farmers and existing farmers who want to expand or improve their production. The land is leased to farmers under agroecological management contracts. Since the relaunch of the project in September 2020, 54 hectares of disused farmland are under ecological management by 9 farmers, of which one of them is Nathalie.
We got you Covered
When you book with Covered, we contribute €10 to this project of Banc De Terres D'Eivissa. We also ask this from the homeowners (also €10) and from you as a customer. A total of €30 per booking. Together we can make a small difference. We like to give these farmers a hand to make this happen and through this article you will get more insight into the project behind this partnership. Hopefully with your help