Marianna Padilla has been working with natural elements for a long time, and she wants to bring it into many other people’s lives. Enter Casa Marianna. The hostess hosts a series of workshops that range from cooking class to gardening to strength training classes that center on being environmentally friendly.
We chatted with Marianna to see what she does and the philosophies she integrates into her teachings.
EnerChange: What kind of service do you provide for your customers?
Marianna Padilla: I’m a personal trainer, so I teach my clients vegetarian cooking and organic gardening. I also teach natural skin care, and I take women on fitness trips to Mexico.
EnerChange: Do you provide service in people’s homes?
Marianna Padilla: It most happens at my studio, but I will sometimes do a kitchen consultation. I’ll help them reorganize the flow of their kitchen; every once in a while I will go to people’s homes.
EnerChange: How do you charge for your services?
Marianna Padilla: For special training, I charge per hour. The tenth one is free, no matter how long it takes to get there. I teach a women’s strength training class, and we do a three month session. My other services depend on what they want me to do, and we usually negotiate on if they need a garden consultation or if they want to do a group class.
EnerChange: How did you get into this kind of business?
Marianna Padilla: When I was younger, I lived on a community farm, simply called “The Farm.” The main farm is in Tennesee and was started by Steven Gaskin. So I lived there, and I’ve always liked to garden. I’ve always been interested in plants and in food and health. I have a degree in sports and science. At the university where I attended school, they didn’t have a degree in health unless you went to a masters level, so I did the best with what I had at the time.
I’m also really interested in women issues that are related to health. As I read and studied and watched movies, I learn more about food and health. I sometimes show documentaries on health and make dinner for people; it’s very educational.
Unfortunately, I see the human community moving in a very bad direction, and the whole planet is suffering from that. It’s my desire to learn to live more simply and more purely — and I don’t mean your morals. I mean don’t use plastics; you can get cancer from plastic. Don’t eat pre-packaged foods. Don’t eat pesticides — pesticides kill. They’re not good for us. From the point of personal health and well-being, your circles can include your family, friends, community, city, state, country, and the world.
EnerChange: Do you feel, you, as one person, can make an impact on the world?
Marianna Padilla: There’s a wonderful book called The 100th Monkey. Have you heard of this? It’s a study; the scientists were out in Malaysia or the Polynesian Islands, and they were studying monkeys that lived on separate islands. The introduced a method of using something as a tool to the monkeys on one of the islands. That monkey taught another one, and that one taught another one, and pretty soon all of the monkeys started using the method. Then without any contact, the scientists noticed on another island the monkeys started doing that without ever being shown the method. It speaks to some collective consciousness, and you never know if you’re gonna be that hundredth monkey that’s gonna tip that.
So one all by itself is difficult to imagine, but one after one after one…it can make a big difference. I feel if this is what we need to do, then I need to not only actually talk about it, but actually do it.
Some examples of things I have implemented is getting solar power. I grow most of my own produce in my yard, and I freeze and dry it. We don’t buy produce during the year, maybe mushrooms, and maybe in the spring when I run out of onions, but pretty much I eat all of my own food all year round. I got rid of my dishwasher and air conditioner. We have one car; I ride my bike.
When people come over for cooking class, they not only learn how to cook, they learn how to conserve water. If you wash those vegetables in a large bowl, then instead of putting that water down the drain, you put it into the compost, or you use it for your plants. I don’t use paper towels and napkins; I use cloth napkins. I have a compost bin; I have hardly any garbage. I’m very attentive to what I bring into the house. It’s just little tips like that. All of these things added together try to not only teach people how to cook, but to raise their awareness of the small things that we do that collectively help.
EnerChange: Are people receptive to wanting to learn new ways?
Marianna Padilla: Yes, people are receptive. I don’t know how long it takes for people to actually change their behaviors, but it’s really up to someone at that point. I try to encourage it. Even with my daughter, I have been saying things for years, but it took Oprah to finally say something to get through to her. “Well, my mom said that, too. I should probably look into it.” [laughs] But I think more and more, it’s about inviting people into my home, so they can see how I do it, and it’s easier than advocating it. We recently had an energy audit and found more ways to cut energy.
EnerChange: Do you find you are healthier in your mind when you connect with the environment?
Marianna Padilla: Yes, because if you are closer to the environment, you are healthier in your mind and body. I think all of these things go together.
There’s a strong political piece that people need to be aware of these days. The power of these corporations in this country, and their motivation is profit. Do we really need profit over “I can’t drink the water on the planet anymore”? Plus, look at what’s already happening with gas. I try to keep myself informed; I support organizations on a monthly basis and try to put my money where my mouth is. There’s always room for improvement.