Name: Marsha Mason of Abiquiu, New Mexico.
Profession: Organic herb farmer, actress, author.
Former Incarnation: Movie star with four Academy Award Best Actress nominations for The Goodbye Girl, Cinderella Liberty, Chapter Two, and Only When I Laugh.
Current Incarnation: Organic herb farmer, environmental activist, manufacturer/marketer of herbal products for bath, body, health, and home. Author of autobiography, Journey (Simon & Schuster, 2000).
Her Journey: In 1993, career frustration motivated Mason to leave Hollywood and buy land along New Mexico’s Chama River. She renovated a dilapidated pig barn, where she lived while supervising construction of a 6,400-square-foot adobe-brick house with passive solar orientation, rainwater catchment, and radiant heat floors.
Her Farm: Mason grows organic herbs, farmed in accordance with Rudolf Steiner’s biodynamic principles. “We do rituals to honor the elements and changing seasons,” she says. “I believe our care for the earth is reflected in the health of the land and plants.” From her harvests, she creates tinctures, soaps, lotions, oils, and potpourri, which she markets on RiverHerbs.com.
Water Champion: Mason is helping restore damaged riparian environment by planting new trees and foliage bordering the river. She reinstalled the traditional Spanish irrigation system and has become a water management activist. As a member of the Rio Chama Acequia Association, she sat down with the Interstate Stream Commission and the Army Corps of Engineers to represent northern New Mexico’s small farmers’ concerns about water use.
Why she does it: “For me, stewardship of the land is the ultimate. I want to leave it better than I found it.”