The Nectar: Weaving Art and Connection in Nature

Hello! Welcome to the new High Desert Nectar blog series, The Nectar, where I feature people and stories that make up High Desert Nectar.

First and foremost, I'd like to express gratitude. The gratitude I have for those  who support High Desert Nectar and those that I will continue to highlight throughout The Nectar blog series. Through collaboration, I am able to elevate High Desert Nectar as a company and make an impact in spreading the benefits of the medicinal benefits of hemp and plant medicine.

James Jackman, a South Florida-based photographer and dear friend of mine, found interest in documenting High Desert Nectar when I invited him to Bend, Oregon for a friendly visit. James and I have connected over the years about the importance of being present and seeing beyond the superficialities that we so often get caught up in. James has true passion for soil, farming and covering stories that highlight the beauty of working with nature and every time I walk our farm, I learn more about how High Desert Nectar can work with the land and be present with the plants. James' has a pure talent to capture the essence and natural beauty of any ordinary moment. He has been the core photographer contributing to the visual aesthetic and storytelling of High Desert Nectar since it's inception.  Read on as we discuss the divine threads of photography, earth  and the human experience.

Openness is the key. Can you laugh at the sun? Moving towards this state is a lifelong journey. -James Jackman

DC: You are most certainly a talented photographer but you have many passions beyond documenting. Tell us about your passions relative to photography and beyond…

JJ: Well thank you! In my usage, photography has become a tool to document and explore the things I am passionate about, such as zen buddhism, natural farming, architecture, or fungi. Photographs often become a space to connect these ideas or topics--- a way of weaving threads together. I’m passionate about the way a vine wraps its tendrils, or the sound of wind through dry grass. These things could surely be expressed through poetry just as well.

DC: How long have you been photographing? What inspires you the most? 

JJ: I began studying photography at SCAD in 2007 and my personal practice really flourished around 2010 when they sent me over to Hong Kong to make photographs in conjunction with the grand opening of a new campus in the city. As simple as it sounds, the time spent there really developed one core function of my creative practice, walking. Many great thinkers and philosophers have praised the activity for the headspace it provides.

DC: How do you feel when you get behind a lens? What is your personal/professional objective as a photographer?

JJ: I’ve heard mushroom hunters talk about ‘getting their eyes on’ in the sense that there is a certain way of spotting the fungi amidst the forest floor, they go from being relatively hidden to completely obvious when you hit the right state of mind. Maybe that’s a kind of flow state, a rhythm with one’s surroundings. That’s how photographing can be for me. Some days I just can’t quite get there.

For personal work that’s all part of the beauty of the experience. But professionally, my objective is to get into that way of seeing, that headspace, and make excellent work for the client, to see their subject in the way they know I can.
high desert nectar james jackman farming hemp

DC: Nature is all around us. What aspects of nature fascinates you most? How do you notice nature and fall into your environment?

JJ: I think what you said is important, that it is all around us. There is no distinct place where nature is--- we are swimming in it like fish in the ocean. Openness is the key. Can you laugh at the sun? Moving towards this state is a lifelong journey. Lately I’ve taken to swimming in the ocean daily. This leads to noticing how the color of the sea changes with the amount of rain we get, or how the intensity of the waves fluctuate with the moon.

A few weeks ago a friend came to join me on my noon swim and it started pouring rain when he arrived, he wasn’t sure if we would still go, but I insisted it would be an experience! My God, if you haven’t experienced cold rain while floating in a warm ocean add it to your list.


DC: Just like humans, nature is in constant motion. Humans are constantly in motion, as is nature. How do you feel humans are losing touch with nature? How do you feel humans are dropping in and connecting with nature?

JJ: Nature does its thing all the time and will never stop. We lose touch when we make careless, destructive decisions. Our current relationship with nature is pretty terrible but we can all make changes! 

DC: Why is it so important for us to drop in with nature, rather than constantly take and take from our earth?

JJ:  The way our ecosystem works is based on balance, on a cycle of life and death. Rapacious farming practices coupled with an unbelievably small percentage of humans engaged in farming is a recipe for disaster, as we are seeing now.

DC: What does human and nature in harmony look and feel like to you?

JJ: More farmers, smaller farms. Working with the forces of nature to increase yields.

DC: What does human-plant (or human-earth) connection mean to you personally? 

JJ: Deep breaths and taking time to pay attention.

DC: Humans are  constantly taking from nature, but many of the greater population is so detached that they may not realize this disconnection. What are some of the most obvious ways we are taking from the earth?

JJ: I think one of the main issues is the concept of garbage/trash/waste. We believe there is a place where garbage goes, when in reality, it goes here, with us. There is no over there. This idea is present in most environmental issues. The concept of the long tailpipe; the US pays a lot to offshore its waste at both the beginning and the end of a product’s lifecycle.

high desert nectar james jackman regenerative farming hemp cbd

DC: We've walked on the High Desert Nectar farm numerous times during your visits to Oregon and spoke in depth about the importance of farming smaller pieces of land closer to home. Why is this so important to you and what impacts do you see this having on our food systems, local community, personal health and connection to the earth?

JJ: We only needed synthetic fertilizers and harmful ‘cides’ when farming sprawled to the gargantuan industry that it is today. Scaling down will increase soil health, biodiversity, and in turn our own health. Industrial farming practices prefer short-term financial gain at the cost of long-term yields. Bio-dynamic, natural farming is a long-term investment strategy where the soil will support greater yields as time marches on.

high desert nectar james jackman farming hemp

DC: What are the small steps that each of us can take to start heading in a more sustainable and abundant future?

JJ: Vote with your dollar, it matters. Local farmers are your friend. The produce is fresher too!

DC: Tell us about your projects? How are you involved in your community?

JJ: So much of what I do photographically is paying respect to friends and people that I admire. I worked on a book project for a man named Buck recently. He has an incredible bonsai collection in his backyard and has been quietly trimming his trees for over 40 years. I wanted to pay homage to his work with my photographs. We worked together to document all his pieces and create a book. Seeing him feel recognized always warms my heart. 

DC: Lastly, what aspects of the High Desert Nectar farming process and family business have you witnessed that most inspires you? 

JJ: As always, the greatest part about working with HDN is the trust in my ability to create what the brand needs. Carte blanche to show up with a camera and document is such a treat. That being said, I am also passionate about the product HDN is creating. When it comes to anything smokable/ingestible, it's so important to have trust in the purity of what we are putting in our bodies. HDN offers up that honest look into the product.

high desert nectar james jackman regenerative farming hemp
Enjoy more of James Jackman x High Desert Nectar here and here.
All photos by James Jackman
instagram: @james_jackman_