When entrepreneur and “love activist” Ryland Engelhart was feeling hopeless about the damage human beings were doing to the planet, there was a solution so obvious that it was practically hidden beneath his own two feet: the soil. Upon discovering that healthy food heals the soil that produces the food, as well as our bodies, and that healthy soil can help balance out gases in the atmosphere, Engelhart responded, “Wow! There’s nothing else to give my life to but that. The most important story right now on Planet Earth is that there is a solution.” As a result, in 2013, he co-founded Kiss the Ground, a nonprofit organization that focuses on awakening more “soil advocates,” educating consumers to make healthier choices and training farmers in regenerative practices to help sequester carbon from the atmosphere and reverse global warming.
Engelhart was born into a family of love activists—practitioners of “sacred commerce,” the philosophy of right action, right intention, and right speech in business. In 2004, his father and stepmother, Matthew and Terces Engelhart, opened an organic vegan restaurant in San Francisco called Cafe Gratitude. Their experiment: What will happen if we use the workspace to cultivate the most important human values — such as love, gratitude, connection and trust? The menus listed whimsical names, like “I Am Generous” for an order of guacamole, or “I Am Dazzling” for a Caesar salad. Wildly successful, the restaurant became a chain that spread to Southern California, the Los Angeles branch of which was run by Engelhart himself. Today, the family business also includes a vegan Mexican food restaurant, Gracias Madre.
Gratitude is something we all have, Engelhart’s parents taught him, but we often lose awareness of it. “The idea was people will come in for the food,” Engelhart says, “and we’ll give them a little uppercut of transformation and a little love and little warmth and a little shift in their attention and see if maybe that ripple effect will make a difference. It is all about shifting our attention from the glass half empty to the glass half full.”
Engelhart’s foundation in service and gratitude led him to explore his own path. Through Kiss the Ground—a name that references the great Sufi poet Rumi (There are a hundred ways to kneel and kiss the ground)—Engelhart is both a catalyst of boundless possibility and practical inspiration, traveling the world to sow the seeds of sacred commerce, gratitude, and the regeneration of our planet. He also produced the award-willing film by the same name, Kiss the Ground, available for streaming, and hosts the podcast “We Can Do This," a weekly conversation about how we can participate in the healing of our Earth and ourselves, as we are one and the same. There are hundreds of free online video resources he offers. To continue his learning, he lives and works with his family on a 17-acre regenerative farm called Be Love Farm in Fillmore, California.
Engelhart’s definition of success? “Success is how much love we can give in this lifetime.”
Please join Rahul Brown in conversation with this heart-centered entrepreneur and community activist.