Rachna is a woman who inspires us through the way she communes with her community. From brewing and creating delicious recipes for our local Apiary to actively pursuing and teaching aerial dance she has shaped an inspiring lifestyle. When the personal passions and the outward expression of these pursuits meet there is a beautiful story to be told. We are so grateful to share Rachna's words with the community and her humbling authenticity! It is truly inspiring when we get to learn what shapes and molds the inspiring women within our world!
Rachna is a Santa Barbara native, who resides on the edge of the Santa Barbara foothills with her life and business partner, Nole Cossart. Co-founders of The Apiary, a small tasting room in Carpinteria, CA, focusing on Mead made from local honey, Cider made from organic local apples, and Hard honey kombucha made from local honey and organic green tea. This couple in love, founded the Apiary wanting to share these magical bubbly honey concoctions with their beloved community in 2015.
Rachna balances running her small business and dancing part-time for the dance company Santa Barbara Center for Aerial dance in the evenings. She also attended a small holistic nutrition and culinary arts program In Berkley, CA in 2011.
What led you to study culinary arts and holistic nutrition?
I sought out holistic nutrition through my constant admiration and interest in culinary endeavors. At a young age, I actively decided that the most important thing that I could do for my body and for my family would be to learn about what food gives us, and how to cook it. Growing up in a slightly more hippie family than some, I was already prone to a lot of ingredient based choices when it came to food and wellness. As an eager 20 year old, when I found Bauman College in Berkely, CA, I was looking for a city adventure, and thought that studying holistic nutrition would be a perfect balance to my growing self. To this day, I could not advise young people more, than to move to a city and strive to find balance in the bustling, most of the time wild and crazy energy that it embodies. Finding the balance an extremely valuable lesson for practicing as you move forward into the rest of your adulthood.
And what about Aerial dance?
Finding aerial dance was certainly an unexpected gift. I was an extremely active teenager pursuing swimming, outrigger canoeing, trail running and modern dance. When I found the Santa Barbara Center for Aerial Dance, like most things when you're a teenager, the timing seemed off and I was struggling to find my place in the world. But also when you're struggling, it is most of the time, exactly where you need to be. This is true for the practice of aerial dance, and it was most certainly true for me. The founder and director of SBCAD, Ninette Paloma, hosts a most intimate array of classes that I quickly found to be more full of life lessons that were intensely pertaining to my life and my individual growth. Throughout the (almost seven!) years I've been dancing and practicing aerial dance I have found that life around us is mearly a mirror of our actions, hard work, and dedication that will always need more practice and showing up for. What I feel in aerial dance is nothing like I've ever felt before, but so similar to my feelings in life, it was truly a sense of relief when I finally found it. Struggle will absolutely lead to extreme energetic pushes in your body that will come bursting through to feel lightness, beauty and a sense of completion and belonging. This to me, is the gift of Aerial Dance.
You are such an active woman in the community, can you share with us about what you are offering?
Being a Santa Barbara native has led me to love our community in as many offerings that I can. I feel so incredibly lucky that my family found roots here so that I could have the oportunity to create such a bountiful life. Co-founding the Apiary was one of the wonderful opportunities I have worked on in my life to give something back to our community. Utilizing local honey that directly derives from our native chaparral has been one of the most surprising and inspiring ingredients that I want to share with our whole community. Hosting or bartending small events in Santa Barbara is one of my favorite ways to interact and educate people on how their food is sourced or how their alcohol is made. I love facilitating the Apiary because it's kind of like hosting one large party! You never know who you're going to meet. This community is rich with artisans and entrepreneurs, all we have to do is spread the word and unite together to become even stronger. I love bringing people together, whether it's with happy hour, good food, dance, or art, I truly love each and every aspect of this little town I am lucky enough to call home.
What inspires you to create?
My inspiration is my local landscape. In the foothills in Santa Barbara I feel constantly surrounded with inspiring native plants that have many uses for land-rejuvenation and the same goes for our bodies. Being a child here opened up my world to the many sensorial experiences that this town has to offer. Hiking in our native chaparral was the equivalent of going to Church in my family when I was young. Some of my fondest memories were exploring trails and taking in the plants around me. I still to this day play a game of how many plants I can identify blooming around me and what I could use them for. When my partner and I started dreaming up The Apiary, I wanted to incorporate the native plants here to give people a little bit more of an education about their natural surroundings and what was underneath their noses, and underneath their bare feet. I feel that our mission with the Apiary is to be an education for people to know where their alcohol comes from and to learn what certain ingredients do for your body. For example, we made a batch of mead with pink jasmine flowers in it that were locally foraged from around Santa Barbara. We made it pink with rose and hibiscus blossoms, and it literally smelled and tasted like you were walking around Santa Barbara in March. I love creating that connection in people's minds to their surroundings. I would love for people to be empowered to always be asking the questions: "Where did this come from? What ingredients were used to make this? When does this bloom? How was this made? Could I make this myself?" and so forth. I hope that people can hear this and incorporate these questions in their daily routines. See what you come up with!
Is there something you are currently working on that you are excited about?
Currently at the Apiary I am working on developing a recipe for an Adaptogenic Jun that we will serve at our Carpinteria tasting room. "Jun" is a low alcohol fermented honey and green tea beverage, made in a very similar way to kombucha. But instead of black tea and white sugar, you use green tea and local honey. Fermented with a S.C.O.B.Y (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) this delicate adaptation of kombucha is a perfect canvas for many healing herbs, flavors and culinary explorations. The AdaptoJUN recipe will be made with Organic Ashwaganda Powder, Organic Cordycepts Powder and Organic local Tulsi leaves that we will essentially "dry-hop" the batch when it's done fermenting to create some dryness and herbal qualities. We will finish the herbaceous infusion with a small dose of Blu Pea Flowers + Hibiscus petals to create a light purple color in hopes of portraying a calming, and stress relieving lavender color, that resembles the color of a Tulsi flower. I hope to get this batch adapted and completed by the end of Spring 2019.
I am also currently working on a compilation of many recipes that I have been adapting for many years. Throughout my holistic culinary adventures in Berkley, to my home recipes that have shown themselves to be stabilizing in my busy, active life. Many are large pots of nourishing, nutritious and easy to make recipes that include the bounty of all that Santa Barbara farmers markets has to offer. As well as some fabulously exhilarating cocktails with local fruits, infused honeys and foraged herbs that I make quite regularly, that I cannot wait to share with all of you!
At the end of each day, how do you bring yourself back home? Do you have a book end to your days?
At the end of each day I have trastitioned from my work day at the Apiary to moving my body for several hours at the dance studio. With the frequent upkeepings of a small business and whether it be partaking in a dance class, participating in a rehearsal of teaching aerial dance, by the time I get home, I simply cannot wait to be in the arms of my sweetheart. I love making a big pot of beans cooked in bone broth, simple sautéed greens with garlic and sausage, or lemony little gems salad with a light shaving of parmesan. Soup is always a go-to. And for Sunday family dinners I love a roast chicken with mushrooms and caramelized onions.
When dinner is all said and done, depending on whether its a red wine or herbal tea night, my partner and I like to cozy up on the couch and talk about what project or adventure is next in our lives.