Regenerative Agriculture Specialist Ben-Yam Barshi discusses Agriculture and OYA with Marco Derhy
As part of our Series “Inspiring success stories,” we enjoyed interviewing Ben-Yam Barshi. Ben-Yam is an agroforester and a permaculture expert with vast experience launching and running businesses in the environmental space. He’s ventured into aquaponics and co-founded Aqualibrium, a closed-loop home gardening system for indoor food production. His entrepreneurship is always mission-driven, and he is also committed to giving back by donating his time and expertise to NGOs.
Thank you for joining us today, Ben-Yam! Please briefly outline for our readers your life’s backstory.
Ben-Yam: My name is Ben-Yam Barshi Barbier. I was born and raised on the tropical Caribbean Island of the Dominican Republic, where my parents, who immigrated from Israel and Canada, established one of the pioneering surf shops in Cabarete — the renowned Carib Wind Center. Their profound affinity for the ocean not only brought them together but also inspired my name, which translates to “Son of the Ocean.” Growing up, their deep-rooted love for nature profoundly influenced me.
I developed an unwavering fondness for the ocean and an unbreakable bond with the Dominican Republic, a place that truly feels like home. In 2007, I proudly graduated from the International School of Sosua — an institution with immense cultural diversity with students from over 35 countries despite its humble beginnings on a farm. This multicultural environment and my proficiency in four languages nurtured an open-minded perspective and a profound appreciation for the global community, regardless of their origins.
Driven by an innate curiosity and passion, I embarked on an educational journey at the University of Concordia in Montreal, where I pursued a degree in electroacoustic sound design for four and a half years. This rigorous program allowed me to explore my interests at a profound level and instilled in me a steadfast commitment to honing my expertise through intuition and unwavering dedication.
Wow! You started in the music field. What led you to agriculture?
Ben-Yam: While the pursuit of mastery in the realm of sound was exhilarating, I soon realized that music alone could not satiate my hunger. At this juncture, I turned my attention to food production and explored Permaculture, Aquaponics, and Regenerative Agriculture in-depth. This transition marked a pivotal moment in my life, as my fascination with sound art seamlessly melded with a profound devotion to understanding and working harmoniously with the forces of nature.
To this day, the thrill of discovering a new fruit or plant that I can cultivate, and the satisfaction of providing high-quality nourishment to those around me, fuel my passion. Over the past decade, this passion has manifested itself in numerous projects, as I assumed the role of Technical Director for ventures such as Aqualibrium LLC (founded on Kickstarter) and Jardin del Futuro (Landscape Aquaponics Installations).
Please tell us a bit about your career path and achievements so far.
Ben-Yam: During my journey as a Technical Director, I was honored to participate in a Permaculture Course in Haiti, collaborating with the esteemed Sadhana Forest project. During this experience, I encountered the abundance of Moringa Trees renowned for their health-enhancing properties. It became evident to me that the deforestation in the region was primarily driven by economic desperation. Motivated by a desire to foster positive change, I realized that incentivizing tree planting would be pivotal in ensuring successful reforestation efforts.
With the support of my beloved family, I embarked on an endeavor to create an artisanal product line specializing in Moringa. By generating demand for this remarkable plant, we simultaneously contribute to developing impoverished communities in the arid rural villages along the Dominican Republic and Haiti border and offer the highest quality natural products imaginable.
Over the years, this undertaking has evolved into Moringaia LLC and Creaciones De La Tierra SRL — a testament to our unwavering commitment to reforestation initiatives and economic support for rural communities on both sides of the border. We seek to restore harmony and equilibrium in our world through our endeavors.
My love for plants extends far beyond Moringa, as I actively seek to cultivate every tropical and sub-tropical fruit conceivably. This unyielding drive to collect rare fruit trees and seeds propelled me to traverse the diverse countryside of the Dominican Republic in search of fertile farmland.
In this pursuit, I have been fortunate to discover awe-inspiring locations and share the dream of land ownership with friends and those around me.
This serendipitous journey culminated in establishing a remarkable real estate project — www.properties.land — in collaboration with Erik The Viking (YouTube: Viking In The Jungle) and Sina Sadhegi (Web Development).
You will be collaborating with OYA; what exciting things can you share with our readers about OYA?
During one of our land viewings, destiny led me to cross paths with Mayan and Michala, two individuals who shared a vision of creating A New Earth, which ultimately became OYA. The alchemy of shared intention and an unwavering passion for contributing positively to our world brought us together and continue to drive our collaboration.
Once Mayan and Michala discovered their dreamland, we embarked on an ambitious planting project. To date, we have successfully planted over 3,000 fruit trees spanning more than 100 species — and this is only the beginning. With numerous plantations in progress, we are steadfast in our commitment to sharing the bounty of our labor with the world, both in physical and virtual realms.
Exciting developments are currently underway aimed at making Regenerative Agriculture accessible to all. I consider it an honor and a true blessing to be an integral part of this transformative journey dedicated to serving the greater good. Stay tuned, as there is much more on the way!