Doug's Story: Trading in the High Life for a Pair of Farm Boots.

April 29, 2016

Doug Genna and Kids and Kauai Farmacy Gardens

I grew up in a tiny town with one stop light just south of Boston. My dad made sure he enjoyed both breakfast and dinner on a daily basis with the family, rarely missing one of our sporting events, and staying on our grades like a hawk. My mother would not sleep until the laundry was folded to precision, and spoiled my brother and I with the best brown bag lunches in town. During our classic suburban upbringing, strong family values certainly rooted us in our being.

After graduating from the University of Michigan, I spent my twenties as a partner in the world of Private Equity. Based out of Connecticut, my real estate investment experience included acquiring posh hotels, urban skyscrapers, regional malls and expansive parcels of land on behalf of institutional investors from the likes of large state pension funds to private endowments like Yale and Harvard to high net worth individuals. During that time, our funds under management grew from $300 million to $3 billion, and our lavish lifestyles grew with it; including private jets, fancy meals and 5-star hotels. At the age of 27, I was a road warrior, cutting multi-million dollar deals with real estate moguls in just about every city in America. At the time, I was not exactly sure what I was learning, but I knew I was seeing and experiencing quite a bit at a relatively young age.

Doug and Genna

In my late twenties, I married one of my best college friends’ younger sister, she was a beaut. Also graduating from Michigan, Genna spent her childhood just north of NYC, experiencing a similarly strong family fabric in a suburban town that seemed to mirror the one that I grew up in. It was uncanny how similarly sheltered our childhoods truly were. Looking back on it, it was actually all very intentional. The suburban communities of Sharon, MA and New City, NY were designed for families to raise their children in a “safe” place, educate their children in a public school setting, and send them off to college to pursue a successful white collar career in pursuit of the "American Dream".

Genna was logging 12 hour days as an industrial designer in a boutique firm in Manhattan when we first started dating. I commuted to see her on weekends after typically spending the work week flying across America. We were living the high life, so it seemed. Collectively, we had plenty of disposable income to enjoy the entertainment of NYC and spent quite a bit of time traveling the world as well.

But time was going by, and as I turned 30, we began to see the writing on the wall. After a month long sabbatical to Southeast Asia and another one to India, we began to seriously question what we were doing and where we were headed. I couldn’t help but notice my colleagues’ lifestyles around me. Many had families, but none could boast daily breakfast and dinner with their young families, as I had so fortunately experienced every day of my childhood. In fact, as a result of many days traveling or late night dinners, my colleagues would often not even see their families for several days at a time. With the hope of having children one day, this didn’t seem like an option for me.

So my wife and I both left our careers. The next several years were kind of a blur. We were honestly kind of stuck. We wanted so much to evolve, but our ambitious “careers” were in our blood. We freelanced a bit and got involved in a few entrepreneurial projects that kept us busy and paid the bills; as well as self-published a book on economic theory called The New Game. It was a blue sky economic theory that contemplated a world in which tenants ruled over landlords.

In November of 2007, we gave birth to our first child. It was a boy. The experience for us was certainly life changing. During the period leading up to the birth, during the birth and the aftermath, we abruptly learned how different our thought patterns and intentions were from the culture around us. Yes, we were idealists. And the institutional business of birth was impossible for us to accept. So after experiencing a heart-wrenching C-section childbirth, we took our 4-month old boy and split for Hawaii and the Garden Island of Kauai.

We were not really sure why we had come to Kauai. But as we spent more time here, we realized we had come here to heal from our childbirth experience, as well as slow-down from our go-go lifestyle, and evolve spiritually in this healing mecca. So we began our evolutionary journey filled with innocence, bliss, and some very hard lessons.

On paper, we spent the next 4 years “living the dream” in paradise; surfing, canoeing, practicing yoga, and taking advantage of island life in Hawaii. But the truth is that we struggled as so many new parents do, especially with no “support” from family. Simultaneously, we started to become surprisingly aware of what our suburban upbringings, coupled with our intense work-filled twenties, had truly created in our beings. Slowly but surely, we realized we had a lot of work to do, but it was not the kind of work that we spent our entire lives training for and practicing in our 20s. This work, we soon learned, was referred to as “working on ourselves”.

So the healing journey began, massage, acupuncture, yoga, healthy eating, herbs, nature and so much more. As I mentioned, Kauai is a mecca for the healing arts, and healers seemed to surround us everywhere we went. It’s ironic that I never knew of this word “healer” before coming to Kauai. They bestowed upon us their experience and knowledge at every turn, and we ate it up as if we were studying for our SATs.

Genna and Noni teaDuring that time, we were introduced to a Polynesian healing plant called Noni, and we began innocently experimenting with the leaf of the plant in making tea. The leaf was not being utilized much on the island; and we found its healing powers to be quite amazing. The Noni Leaf empowered us with increased circulation, awareness and overall energy. So it was only a matter of time before our entrepreneurial instincts resonated with the Noni Leaf; and so in 2009, we began attending farmer’s markets and stocking local health food store shelves with tea bags of Noni Leaf.

Even with all of the time we were dedicating to healing over the past 4 years, I was still experiencing so much frustration and anger from physical stiffness, internal stagnation and excess weight, particularly around my waist and neck. For after 10 years of steak & wine dinners, logging hours and hours behind the computer and on the cell phone, not to mention long coast to coast airplane rides, I was finally waking up to how much personal work was really necessary to turn back the clock and find my youth. The truth is that it was totally disheartening and frustrating to experience my 3-year old boy in real time, literally running circles around me; I was getting older and more tired, while he was getting faster and stronger. I had another child on the way, and I knew something had to give. It was high time to make a dramatic shift in my physical, mental and spiritual being.

Around the same time, we rented a new place on Kauai that happened to have a small Ayurvedic herb garden in the front yard. On move in day, I asked the landlord how to use the dozen or so plants that were all so new to me. She suggested I make tea. So that night, I stayed up late researching the different plants that were in the garden and the next morning began making tea. My first blend was comprised of Tulsi (Holy Basil), Lemon Balm, Mint and Sage. I began making gallon batches and drinking it throughout the day. It was delicious!

My entire system began to change from the inside out. My waist and center literally came alive after years of dormancy; and my neck began to trim out and loosen up. My appetite picked up as well, as I began preparing and consuming large plates of super healthy food. It was amazing. I began losing weight simultaneously to my increase in appetite. My metabolism and digestive tract had been rejuvenated in real time. And most importantly, I began playing like a child with my then 4-year old boy. I couldn’t help but dream of ways in which we could bring this new found health and wellness to my local and international community.

So we decided to use our savings from my former life in private equity to purchase a 4-acre horse ranch in Kilauea, on the north shore of Kauai. It was a jungly property comprised of a diverse array of fruit trees and flowers, including; macnut, mango, orange, startfruit, lychee, guava, coconut, breadfruit, lemongrass, puikinikini, gardenia, and of course noni trees. Yes, there is actually a signature noni tree at the top of hill as you enter and look down on the 4-acre property. The diversity of plants on the property is unbelievable.

Kauai Farmacy EntranceWe moved onto the property a month after my second child was born. The farm had been a horse ranch for the past 30 years. The truth is we had no idea what we had got ourselves into. And as much as we had learned during our transformation after leaving corporate America, 7 years prior, the real life learning had just begun. With 3 young children and a 4-acre jungle ranch that needed way more work than we could have ever comprehended at the time, we were challenged to say the least. The next 5 years would prove to be the most challenging, growing, and evolutionary period of our lives to date. The stage was set. The mission: to transform this former horse ranch into a working farm, an Herb Farm, a Tea Farm, a Medicine Farm.

The canvas that was in front of us was so exciting. We couldn’t wait to paint it. So paint it we did. We moved fast at the beginning: gathering seeds and plants, planting gardens, cutting down huge invasive trees, building solar dehydrators, hanging racks to cure the herbs, removing fences, transporting the volunteer bee hive from the shed wall into the gardens, and playing with different packaging and branding options. As we experimented with the herbs and consumed more and more tea made with exquisite taste in mind, we become more excited every day. We knew we had an awesome idea and a great product, and we couldn’t wait to share it with the world.

But at the same time, every moment it seemed as though we were being taught so many life lessons during our new life on the farm. “Mistakes” were a way of life out of ignorance, ego, and fast decision making. From initially locating the plant nursery in a super shady spot (duh!), to planting run-away jungle vines that would later have to get taken out, to planting a strand of gotu kola which became so prolific that we basically had to pick up the entire top soil of the garden to remove it; the lessons never seemed to let up.

So continuing to move fast proved unwise. The lessons proved to be too costly: physically, emotionally and financially. It was finally time to “slow down” our lives and learn what the word “organic” growth truly meant. We were forced to take baby step after baby step, surrender to the powers that be; accept that every mistake was truly a lesson; followed by another and another. We learned how to trust the process. And our skills from using machetes, to harvesting herbs, to growing and procuring medicine, to learning how to work with the locals, grew a little bit every day. One by one we were also able to attract all the right people at the right time. And the cuts that covered my hands in the first few years on the farm, slowly but surely, began to disappear.

Since purchasing the land almost 5 years ago, we have collected and planted over 50 diverse medicinal herbs in our beautifully designed and maintained permaculture gardens. We have attracted a dream team of brilliant gardeners, tea-makers, herbalists, florists, and designers to produce the world’s best herbal supplements. We have built 6 solar dehydrators to cure herbs raw through ventilation, with no electricity, and minimal heat. We have continuously stocked a diverse and abundant plant nursery of herbal medicine to feed our gardens. We have designed and built a beautiful website with video, photography and written content to educate you, as if you are growing our gardens along with us; and lastly, we have figured out how to get the tea out of the jungle to your doorstep super fresh, both locally and internationally, while keeping the jungle, the jungle.

Group shotPersonally, I feel totally transformed. I have lost 25 pounds since beginning to drink Kauai grown herbal tea, and now use these herbs in my daily lifestyle. From lathering myself with turmeric juice, to healing a broken nose with comfrey root, to experiencing vivid dreaming by rubbing sage juice on my forehead, to cleansing my digestive tract with aloe, to clearing my brain with gotu kola, to learning the emotional digestion powers of ginger, to using herbs for my children’s well-being on a daily basis; I am continuing to experience and benefit from the power of this amazing plant medicine. I now feel like I radiate with the diverse vibrations of these 50 plus medicinal plants; each herb providing a different composition of vitamins and minerals to my system; each herb increasing my awareness through its own unique frequency; each herb awakening tools in my body that have been relatively dormant since my youth. And collectively, the herbs permeate my center core, to awaken my intuition and will power.

Doug and CoconutThe truth is that the only way we have been able to build this farm is with the power of the herbs by our side. They have provided us with health and wellness beyond our wildest dreams. As we continue to utilize the herbs, we have become lighter, faster, clearer, kinder, stronger, and more aware of our feelings and senses. The herbs have provided me, my family and our team with the endurance and intuition to know how to create balanced medicine. And as we have learned the power of these healing plants, we have only become stronger in our conviction to create Kauai Farmacy as a way to help people; and stronger in our belief that if you consistently drink our tea, that you too will begin to feel better, stronger, lighter, younger and more aware of your true self.

We have made a dramatic shift in our physical, mental, and spiritual being. I am on a different path now. And my 3 year old boy, who is now 8 and very fast, is no longer running circles around me. I not only eat breakfast and dinner with my children, but harvest and make fruit and herb smoothies from the farm every morning; a far cry from the go-go days of private jets and steak dinners. And we have found our ground on this rock in the middle of the Pacific, our home on our medicinal tea farm, on the Garden Island of Kauai.

The farm has been set up. Our best marketing is the power of our tea. Our herbs could only be more balanced and potent if you grew them yourself in your own backyard. Even though the FDA tells us we cannot say that our herbs will cure you, we believe they will. You are receiving the artisanal craftsmanship of what we love to do: make real medicine. We truly thank you for the opportunity to serve you in this manner. It is a dream come true.

Aloha, Doug




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