Gentle Woman of the Month: Amber Tamm
There are there very few people that you'll meet in this lifetime that you will connect with instantly + build a genuine friendship with. I had the pleasure of meeting Amber when I moved cross country to New York, and she immediately felt like family. Being able to spend time with her + her family gave me the opportunity to experience one of the most beautiful relationships that I had ever seen between a mother and daughter. I admired Amber for so many reasons and over the years my admiration has continued to grow. After experiencing a tremendous loss, Amber has embarked on an incredible journey that's rooted in serving the earth + being an educator in garden/farm spaces. As someone who is not caught up in our social climate + genuinely believes that the quality of persons work supersedes their reach/popularity, Amber is a true representation for Gentle Women.
1. Firstly, tell us a bit about yourself, where you are from and what you are passionate about!
My name is Amber Tamm Canty. I’m a certified Brooklyn gurl (born & raised!). I’m 22 currently living in Northern California. I am a farmer but I refer to myself as a farm shawty. I’m passionate about bringing people back to their knees, making sure people have the tools and knowledge to know that healing is available to them at all times, bringing kids into garden and farm spaces + teaching them the language of momma earth, so they can speak it for the rest of their lives. I’m passionate about living a life that’s centered around earth, that’s for, in servitude of the earth, working for the earth, making the earth as better as I can make despite my human nature.
2. What does your style say about you?
I’m looking at my closet now …. I would say my style definitely speaks that I’m earth toned. *laughs* I wear a lot of brown, yellow, green, beige. I don’t really wear too many other colors besides those. I do have a lot of African printed clothing and I’m particularly obsessed with mud cloth. I would say my style gives away to the calmness of my personality but also brings awareness to my personal morals and politics. I’ve been told that I don’t look like a farmer, that I don’t dress like a farmer. I’ve also been told that I dress like a librarian. *laughs* So, I’m assuming that its like African farm shawty, earth toned librarian look that I serve.
3. What does self-love mean to you and how does that translate into your personal style?
I don’t use the term “self-love”. I think naturally that term never drew me in and when it blew up on Instagram as a hashtag, I had just lost my parents. So I’m very disconnected from that term. I also think that term is very saturated with other peoples definitions and actions, so when I hear that term I think about people posting a selfie or doing a face mask or treating themselves to lunch but those aren’t any of my own definitions. But if I’m talking about how I love myself, I call that getting in touch with my inner earth. Explanation: So, the earth on a planetary scale represents the heart. Therefore, the earth is the heart of the universe. So the heart in your body is your inner earth. There words even use the same letters. *laughs* What does taking care of my inner earth look like? Or what does that term mean to me? That means, making sure that I have the correct amount of energy for self, efficient fuel for self FIRST so I can do what I need to do through out the day. This has manifested into me creating + implementing routine. But not routine equating to redundancy but routine that aids in real support. So, yes that looks like meditation + yoga in the morning, a plant based diet , high water intake, and face masks. But that also looks like really small things like making sure I massage my feet every evening, making my bed, making weekly wild bouquets for the dinner table, speaking to someone I love once a day, making sure I spend time with my feet on the earth. I think the most important thing recently has been making sure that my audio intake is balanced, making sure that I’m listening to things that can empower me, empower my body, awaken my will, teach me new things along with things that might not do that but I still enjoy like trap music or celebrity interviews.
This translates into my personal style through making sure that what I’m wearing reflects my morals and politics while still feeling real fly & real beautiful. I tend to wear colors that resonate with my heart, greens + browns. I’m always reflecting earth 24/7 even as I’m working with earth 24/7. As a farmer, I tend to wear the same things, work clothes stained with all types of dirt and liquids. I try to find as many ways to bring beauty to my everyday work fits, even through the stains. But I take the stains of the earth as a part of it, no resistance to it. I also might put on my favorite pair of earrings or purposely buy thrifted clothing that’s real fly to be farming in.
4. There are so many inspirational women in this world. Which woman resonates with you the most and embodies your idea of femininity?
This such a hard question! There's so many names that come up but the first ones to really resonate with me was Assata Shakur + Robin Wall Kimmerer.
5. What is your food philosophy?
I’m assuming this question is truly asking me what my diet looks like. I am NOT vegan, that’s the first thing I will say. I enjoy milk based butter, eggs and friend chicken every now & again. I do maintain a plant based diet, meaning 50%-75% of my meals are green whole foods + root crops. I try to always source local + organic first but will buy mainstream if my pockets are hurting.
6. If you could give one piece of advice to new vegans + vegetarians, what would it be?
To vegans + vegetarians: Please lay back on judging others who are not vegan or vegetarian, straight up! Everyone’s body is different and everyone is on a different place in their path of understanding self, it is not helpful to lecture someone on what’s working for you. I encourage y’all to lead by example, let people see how its working for you but to chill with the pushiness. I’d also urge new vegans + veggies to take it to the next step. Now that you’re eating all the organic earth matter, please compost!
7. What do you think the most positive result of veganism is?
I can’t say what is the most positive result. But I could only hope that veganism is impacting all local farmers. . A lot of local farms are struggling financially against the Monsanto/big mainstream farms. This relates directly back to the last question, to all plant based peeps buy local first. If you’re sourcing your veggies from your local farmers market this could be one of the best things veganism can bring in my eyes and I hope that it will in the future.
8. What inspired you to live a more sustainable + eco-friendly lifestyle?
I don’t think I was ever inspired to live a more sustainable/eco-friendly life style. Those things came with me stepping into my truth, which was working with land aka becoming a farmer. Working with the land has allowed me to always be able to compost, live off the grid, grow my own food, buy local + organic and I'm grateful but I can’t say I had this mindset of “okay, i’m going to do things more Eco-friendly now”. Instead of only thinking of these coined and now trendy terms ”sustainable” or “Eco-friendly” I just live with earth in mind all the time, therefore I’m living with my heart. Earth is now always present in my thoughts and how my habits/actions affect the earth is a constant question I ask myself daily. Actually, just having earth more constant in my vocabulary helps me keep this habit of mind up.
9. What are some steps people can take to start being more sustainable with their choices?
Small ways: buy from your local farmers market, use reusable bags + water bottles, buy sustainable products (light bulbs, notebook/papers, clothing, house cleaners, soaps,etc), go thrifting, set up composting stations (zero waste stations).
Big ways: solar panels + renewable energy sourced living, communal living, travel less by plane (try a train, way more sustainable) and understand that money is energy. So when you’re giving your money you're giving your energy, try to give your energy back to momma earth or at least give it people who are keeping her current state in mind.
10. 3 easy steps people can start to use to participate in ethical and sustainable fashion.
2. Reseaching/Sourcing sustainable clothing industries
3. Making your own clothes
11. Do you have hope the industry can change to value people and the planet?
I wouldn’t say I have hope rather I KNOW this can happen. Now will it happen in our life times is up to us, but all the possibility is present. I think the industry, if we’re referring to the art + fashion + music industry, can influence people to move everyone’s eyes back to the earth. This isn’t something that’s only reserved for the food justice movement and scientist.
12. What are a few natural products you can’t live without?
Food Products: Fermented foods (pickled ginger, sourkraut, kombucha), butter, coconut oil, essentia ionized water, oregano, chai tea, apple cider vinegar, baking soda.
Beauty products: green bentonite face masks lavender oil, rose water, dr. bronners soaps, clove oil, toms lemon grass deodorant, almond oil, coconut oil (again, haha), cedar wood oil, peppermint oil.
Clothing: muck boots (every farmer needs these!), love Beatrice jump suit <3
Houseware: bamboo/wood utensils + kitchen tools
13. How do you maintain your peace amid the chaos happening in our country?
Wow, this is such a good question, I love this question! I spoke about this earlier when we were speaking about self-love and our inner earths but that’s how I do it, I connect with my heart. Not only is there chaos happening all over the world, and in our country but more importantly there's a chaos happening within ourselves. The inner chaos is the only one we can really change on a more immediate or more direct way. We amplify this inner chaos by how we choose to live our lives and how much whole organic energy we’re giving to ourselves. We can calm this inner chaos by tuning into harmony, by figuring out what brings us harmony and making sure that whatever this is isn’t hurting anyone else. I do this by being earth centered, by doing my best to spend as much time with earth as I can. I also do this by making sure that at least 20% to 40% of my day is spent with myself. During this time I make sure I am focusing on my breath and breathing to some degree, so whether this be yoga, meditation, walking meditation, cardio, a barefoot walk on the earth, or just listening to music, through it all I just bring awareness to my breath. This is one of the most important things one can do. I feel like this sounds real cliché and redundant but its like that because its true! Once you take the time to tune into breath, which really equates to tuning into self, you then will recognize when you’re not in harmony and during those times be able to quickly realign to keep a steady stream of compassion flowing. This then will allow one to take less offense to things, react less and live with others a lot better and clearer.
I also emphasize compassion in my everyday. With earth as my teacher of course that’s a given. But I’m not talking about compassion as this vague subject, for me compassion starts and is rooted in language. This summer, I truly took the time to study non-violent communication. It changed my whole perspective on life, it helped me be able to decode what people are truly saying or be able to ask the questions to help me understand what people are really trying to get it. I encourage all to read Marshall Rosenberg’s Non-Violent Communication book or just watch one of his videos online. This is a GAME CHANGER.
14. How do you achieve work-life balance?
Work-life balance is not something to be achieved in my book, its something to just always keep striving for. For me, I think this balance starts out by doing something you love, for me that’s farming. So, my work never truly feels like work. But what I will say, my struggle is living where I work. Making sure I reserve time where I’m not working because my work doesn’t consume to a point of being drained , it replenishes so I have to be very careful about not working 24/7. I do this by planning my week out as best I can and adjusting the plan day to day when need be. Plans are made to guide not be followed literally.
15. What is your favorite quote that inspires and drives you to live your best life?
the moon & the sun once asked the earth "where are the woman warriors?" The earth responded, "they've been scattered all over the world but they can always be identified by the beauty in their eyes which reflects the dignity & greatness of the rainbow" the earth continued, "nevertheless, they continue to suffer greatly, often much more than what is commonly endured by human beings." Then the moon & the sun responded energetically, "we have to look for them, we have to bring them together because it is only the woman warriors who know how to survive in the midst of suffering & struggle."
16. Tell me about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.
I mean, I consider every time someone messages me or tags me in something about how they were inspired by the work that I'm doing or have done and how this inspiration is manifesting in their everyday, I deem this the best accomplishments. I am a very direct person, I like when I can directly see how my energy and work is affecting people, I like to see that result as fast as possible so when one tells me how they watched my videos or were inspired by my pictures it brings me such joy. Whether it be one just saying they got house plants, or started hiking or started farming/growing food, it brings true joy every time. I’m also a communicator, words of affirmation is my love language for sure! So, this kind of communication means a great deal to me. But to speak on a project, I recently spoke at Stanford University. This literally changed my life in every way. I mean, I had to leave College cause I lost my parents 3 years ago, so for me to be at a university sharing my farm experiences and personal plant knowledge as a college drop out + young farmer black woman was huge for me. I also did a lot of things for the first time like share poetry and lead a meditation, 2 things I will be doing more often! Grateful to all the people who were there for that experience and helped me get there.
17. What have you learned about leadership, entrepreneurship and mentoring others?
I’ve learned to meet people where they’re at, foreal. Like there needs to be a spectrum of what you’re offering to people. I think sometimes as a earth person, us earth people can be a little judgmental towards others who don’t live in tune with earth and are not looking to do that anytime soon but this why you have to meet people where they’re at. So by having variety is what you’re offering people on multiple levels helps a lot.
When it comes to entrepreneurship, this is all very new for me but what I’ve learned thus far is pacing yourself. I constantly have to remind myself that not everything is going to happen all at once. Also allowing yourself to slow down in terms of the rate your’re putting things out is important too. There’s this illusion that we’re running out of time but time cannot run out. Time isn’t linear it’s a circle so take your time, put things out when it feels good not because of urgency or the pressure you feel from social media.
When it comes to leadership, I’ve realized its not always about numbers. Quality over quantity. Like the amount of followers doesn’t always dictate leadership to me. You can really be doing outstanding work without even being on Instagram and you can be on Instagram, just posting selfies & have tons of followers. With that being said, I also want to emphasize that being a leader doesn’t mean not interacting. I say this cause there's this idea that I see playing out where those whom we see as leaders are not interacting with the people who look to them as a source of inspiration. Interact with people y’all! It’s okay, its totally cool to do that!
18. What is something that you want people to know about you that they don't already know?
Man, this is hard a question. Umm, I’ll keep this question real light. I guess somethings that people don’t know about me pertain to what I keep to myself. So, I do draw really well, I enjoy painting and drawing very much. I also write a lot of poetry, and recently have just started freestyling for fun. One of my dreams is to run my own kombucha company. Umm, I take all my own photos! I think a lot people think that I have a photographer but I take all my own photos (unless otherwise stated). I dance in the mirror atleast once a day, its how I free myself. And lastly, I eat a lot of chocolate and I’m afraid of losing my teeth.
19. How do you want to improve yourself over the next year?
If I'm to speak about 2018, I’m planning to open myself up more in the sense of not being so caught up in judging or being divided in my language. Creating more room for shades of grey to be formed rather than feeling like I have to choose when paradoxes present themselves. I also want to cultivate more friendships, I can be real hermit like but I plan on tending to friendship the way I tend to my plants. I’m learning now to really look at the things I see as frustrating in my career realm and getting to the source of that frustration to get the solution. Meaning not waiting for someone else to do what I’d like to see, but just start creating the things I deem necessary for the sake of black farmers or young farmers or women farmers & of course momma earth.
20. What is the best advice you've ever received?
See the people who inspire you as your family. Walk everywhere with roots in your shoes. You are not one thing, you are everything. All is self.