mercado sagrado in big sur
Sometimes you just fall in love with a place. Much like the head-over-heels, butterfly-in-the-tummy feeling you get for another person, you find yourself enraptured. You do everything you can to see it again, experience it continuously, and share it with everyone else you love so they can love it too!
Or, like Heather Culp, co-founder of Mercado Sagrado, you love the place so much you don’t even think to share it. Such was the case when Heather happened upon Big Sur, the locale of an upcoming three-week Mercado Sagrado residency. “It’s so sacred and such a small, intimate community,” she explains, “it just didn’t even cross my mind as an option, I think out of reverence.”
However, when she was introduced to the new owner of the Big Sur Village Shops who invited her to bring her beautifully curated market north, she knew it was the perfect time to share her passion for this place with the Mercado community.
With this passion, of course, comes great responsibility. And so Heather has dedicated herself to sharing Big Sur in a way that feels sustainable and respectful of the sacred land. This means that, in addition to the curated wares we’ve come to expect from Mercado, there will also be experiences – think botanical candle making and traditional spoon carving – rooted in nature and tradition, led by local guides. Guests will also be encouraged to take the Big Sur pledge and a portion of the proceeds will go towards the Big Sur Historical Society.
“Our ancestors lived in rich communion with the earth and were not separate from nature,” Heather relays. “We honor that and feel inspired to create experiences that celebrate this. “
Read on for all the details on Mercado Sagrado at Big Sur and start planning your trip here.
What inspired you to take Mercado Sagrado north to Big Sur and have it be almost a month long?
I have always felt deeply tied to place —to different landscapes where I've lived or in the case of Big Sur, only had the pleasure of visiting yet felt very connected to. I feel most drawn to the places that have a feeling of being sort of natural sanctuaries, places where you can really commune with the trees or the sea. Even from Mercado Sagrado’s conception, the dream was always to bring it to others locales. There was of course the daydreaming about where these might be but Big Sur wasn’t in consideration in any conscious way. It’s so sacred and such a small, intimate community it just didn’t even cross my mind as an option, I think out of reverence. However, one day Noel and Fletcher of Wildtender reached out to introduce their friend Patrick Orosoco, who was in the midst of purchasing the Big Sur Village Shops. He and his wife, Mandy invited us up and this dream emerged...it’s still a bit surreal.
Obviously Mercado Sagrado at Big Sur is totally different than the Malibu happening which is just two days. How are you retaining the spirit of Mercado over several weeks in Northern California?
In that way, this residency is really a wonderful opportunity for deeper connection with participants and the community. It’s a lot of work to arrange a two day happening that comes and goes so quickly. Often the feedback is that it’s not long enough, that more time is needed to really engage and enjoying all that’s being presented —whether that’s time to view all of the artists work or time to experience the programming or to just be able to take a break and have a grounded, connected conversation with someone you ran into at the event but haven’t seen forever, or with a new friend.
And how, if at all, does the Big Sur event differ in character?
For one thing, being in Big Sur means we’re able to offer some very special outdoor explorations with a few local herbalists like Emmaline Molloy and Kelsey Barrett. Otherwise, we’ll have experiential programming as we do at our annual event but of course, all through the month at the Village, plus healing arts practitioners in residence for one on one sessions each day such as Deva Munay and Micha Merrick as well our favorite Chef, Greg Arnold offering his amazing creations Thursday - Sunday. The Mercado Sagrado shop and gallery space and the Canyon Coffee & Sun Potion Tonic bar will be open every day and we’ve partnered with Love Yoga for classes. We’re offering an incredibly varied experience —attendees can hang out together at the Village and maybe just connect over a tonic while watching the river or they can take a class on Palmistry, etc.. It’s wonderful because there is the luxury of time —to experience all that’s being offered but also just time to BE in Big Sur, unplug and appreciate the landscape and the community.
The weekend programming seems to really draw upon the natural surroundings. Is there a program you're most excited about?
I’m really excited about them all but definitely personally looking forward to our happening on June 9th with Lloyd Kahn and Jay Nelson. Lloyd is really a legend, he’s 84 and has lived a wild life. He’ll be sharing stories and images from the 60’s in Big Sur and of his building practices, including geodesic domes and all kinds of other amazing hand crafted houses. He’s the founder of Shelter Publishing and his first book, published in 1973 is so iconic and influential. I received it as a gift many years ago and it may have been what planted the seed which let me to go and live off the grid in an earthship in Taos. And Jay Nelson is really sort of picking up where Lloyd leaves off, he’s much younger and is creating these magical wooden experimental and often mobile structures.
I know that exposing people to the beauty of the area is something you're really passionate about – can you speak a bit about the Big Sur pledge and partnership with Big Sur Historical Society?
The heart of the Big Sur Pledge is really to honor the spirit of the land, to be a steward of the land. This is really also at the heart of Mercado Sagrado as in part its creation was out of the inspiration of living in the Santa Monica Mountains and wanting to share that connection that we felt to the land with our friends, in community. One of our collaborators (whom I mentioned before), Wildtender offers nature immersion experiences that guide participants to reclaim a depth of connection to the earth that for many has been lost. Our ancestors lived in rich communion with the earth and were not separate from nature – we honor that and feel inspired to create experiences that celebrate this. The Historical Society in Big Sur also serves to inspire thorough keeping the stories of land and the ancestors alive and we’re happy to support them however we can.