How to Connect to Nature and Heal Through Gardening

The ORCA x Mate the Label Collection Wants to Bring You Closer to Nature.

By: Jessica Ourisman
How to Connect to Nature and Heal Through Gardening

We make no secret of the fact that we find great healing in nature. So when board-certified acupuncturist, TCM practitioner, and herbalist Janine Mahon proclaimed her love of naked gardening for summer self-care, we couldn’t help but listen. “Gardening [with intention] connects you with the earth, tuning into the giving and receiving of energy,” Dr. Mahon says. 

While basking in the elements — sunlight, fresh air, and the grounding frequencies of the soil — you will also be stimulating points on the tips of the fingers called Jing Well points, where most energy meridians begin or end. “They are a gateway into the body,” Dr. Mahon continues. “Using your fingertips to pull weeds stimulates these points, releasing tension.” She also notes that the front and back sides of the body correspond to Yin and Yang and that exposing your belly and breasts to the summer sun “energizes your inner world with Yang energy,” which is stored as Yang Qi to keep your digestion and immune systems strong for the Yin Winter to come.

As nice as this might be, the fact is that in most cities and neighborhoods, gardening au natural is not in the cards for us this summer. But don’t let this hold you back from gardening altogether. The new limited edition ORCA x Mate the Label collection offers the next best thing: organic cotton garments for gardening colored with plant-based dyes made from pomegranate rinds and katha extract from the Acacia tree. While you can wear them in or out of the garden, the collection was designed with the therapeutic aspects of connecting with nature in mind — as you tend to your garden, it, too, nurtures you.

ORCA: Connect to Nature Through Artful Immersion

ORCA, which stands for Oregon/California, is a landscape design and studio for outdoor products founded by Molly Sedlacek. She is passionate about using plants and natural materials to help rē•connect people with the cycles of nature — and it shows in the way the organic designs use raw materials to help facilitate immersion in nature comfortably and functionally. She is a favorite of designer Jenni Kayne, whose aesthetic unfailingly celebrates the natural landscape.

Sedlacek’s career in landscape design flourished, but only after heeding her inner call to prioritize immersion in nature in her life. “Going into an office felt harder and harder as my plants started to grow and my garden began to take shape,” she tells rē•spin. “I found myself trying to find more daylight hours to work in my garden. [Ultimately], landscape design truly felt like what I was intended to do with my career all along.”

She describes spending time in nature as being vital to her well-being, calling nature her teacher. “When in nature, I often think about how something so simple and elemental can be so profound and complex,” she says. “The texture of a rock, or the way a tree trunk has twisted to form a type of sculpture [from the force of the] wind… This constant yet gentle reminder of beauty in all things from the earth is my deep root of joy.”

Her aim is to create outdoor spaces that will allow clients to spend time in and appreciate their natural spaces. “The most wonderful feedback I can ever receive is that they are spending more time in their gardens,” she says. “My goal is to encourage connection to the senses while in the garden — it could be a fragrant swath of plants near an outdoor table or an outdoor cooling shower that you reach by walking barefoot on spongy moss.” She finds these sensory experiences to be the key to creating lasting memories, particularly for children. She loves when families send photos enjoying their outdoor spaces she designed. “When my work is complete, the garden’s journey is just beginning.”

ORCA x Mate the Label: What Is Nature Adjacent Fashion?

When it comes to fashion, an industry with a notoriously unsustainable and damaging status quo, reconciling a value for nature is only sometimes straightforward. “Slow” fashion pieces that are made to last, sourced, and created with sustainability in mind, as opposed to “fast fashion” selections, are paramount. And then there are brands like Mate the Label, known for its locally-made, sustainable designs created from non-toxic, natural, and organic materials. 

Founder Kayti O’Carr is passionate about offering customers “clean” clothing, keeping wellness for the consumer and the environment in mind throughout the entire process. “We believe that what you put on your body is just as important as what you put in your body,” O’Carr says, referencing pollutants like PFAs, BPA, EDCs, and microplastics. “I was immediately drawn to Molly’s vision and her design aesthetic,” she continues. “As I listened to Molly communicate her values regarding materials during our initial call, I knew she was the perfect person to partner with.” 

What resulted is a three-piece collection of apparel that is ideal for wearing in the garden — but chic enough to wear outside of it, as well. It features a jumpsuit, jacket, and workwear pants created from 100% organic canvas sourced from an ethical, women-led factory in India. The pieces are offered in three earth-hued colorways, dyed with extracts from Acacia and Pomegranate trees.

Each piece takes two-to-three weeks to arrive, embracing slow fashion with an enduring, multi-functional piece. For $268, the zip-up jumpsuit with its cinched waist could easily be seen on the streets of Los Angeles. Yet each piece strives for the versatility that is key to capsule wardrobes. Sedlacek is partial to the Garden Jacket, $238, noting that she goes “from meetings to pruning on a daily basis, and loves having a silhouette that can be an overcoat for coffee dates or presentations, yet functional enough to put to work.” 

O’Carr, on the other hand, favors the Workwear Pant, $218. “I am obsessed with them for their functionality and laid-back style,” she says. “The natural color variation from the plant dye makes each pair unique and one of a kind.” She styles them with a simple layering tank and the jacket, noting, “They’re easy to dress up or down and are my go-to pant for MOM-ing around town with my little one.” She wears them on coffee runs, lunch dates, to the farmer’s market — and beyond.

rē•connecting to Nature

Several pillars of wellness are exemplified in the coming together of these two creatives. Their connection to each other, the garden, and their shared passion for nurturing the earth give the entire initiative a benevolent ambiance. Yet each founder also relishes in the value of giving back to the planet in a symbiotic relationship with the land we make our homes in. “Our work encourages life outdoors and to tend to the land we are provided,” Sedlacek says. “Growing food, cultivating space, and nourishing the soil we inhabit are wonderful outcomes of investing time towards the earth.”

Shop the collection at
Photographer: Bryan Carr 


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