Makers 01: Agroecology

Fénix Farms is regenerating our forest ecology for a future of a closed-loop Modern Utopia.

Lily Foster, founder of regenerative agriculture expertise Fénix Farms, is a modern day explorer. Guided by an intense curiosity and fervour for deciphering many of earth’s mysteries from both the natural and historic human worlds, Foster evaluates and uncovers new pathways for the construction and optimisation of regenerative food systems in a rapidly changing, and heavily populated global context. Part of a movement that is not only fostering growth and education on our current mixed ecologies, Foster and Fénix are leading the charge on the innovation of bespoke systems with the sole goal to “transform agriculture from something destructive, monoculture, and distant to something regenerative, biodiverse and local”, as crucial to our climate and food outcomes.

Since its conception, MUSA has functioned as a hotbed of innovation and forward-thinking design, envisioned as a model community that identifies and pursues opportunities for ‘future living’; taking risks and collaborating with the industries most bold of boundary-breakers, to conceptualise, plan, and evolve frameworks for not only sustainable living, but regenerative and custom closed-loop systems unique to the MUSA townscape. These collaborations, a working relationship and ongoing conversation between land, designer, and maker, seek to find pathways to efficiency, functionality, and above all joy in our environment, leading to vibrant peer to peer partnerships that further work towards achieving a true vision of a Modern Utopia; where the land is preserved and nurtured, where art and culture not only collide, but thrive, and where new movements begin as people converge on new ideas in an culture that cultivates free thinking and disruption to static methodologies.

In the first instalment of our Makers series, we highlight a glimpse of the process and people behind the curriculum of social and environmental projects at MUSA that are quickly shaping our net positive future for residents, guests, and the wider local community. As a radical thinker and active reformer in her field, Foster aligns with MUSA’s quest for positive change in our slice of paradise and in the region at large; leaning into our native canvas of natural possibilities and creating an enhanced format for organic farms, localised soil and water conservation systems, that start small but designed for scale. At MUSA, Fénix’s work on analysis and research of the native ecology is documented as we work towards a full scale, intricate, and highly functional on-property network for food and medicinal agricultural systems that maintain both human and environmental health .

“Fénix Farms exists because we believe that the future of climate is commercial community, poly-species systems that work with local ecologies and economies in order to create a more resilient and abundant future for all life systems involved.”

In true expedition fashion, ‘Part One: Discovery’ of our Makers series with Fénix Farms, is part field notes, part guided tour, as we start down the long-term vision of soil regeneration and the development of a complete syntropic food forest. In collaboration with Juan Pablo Gómez Servin of Estudio Contexto, our partner on landscape design and town planning, tune into this informative first hand exploration of the beginning of the journey, now underway at MUSA.

Part One: Discovery

Journal Entry by Lily Foster, Founder of Fénix Farms

“Right before she jumps into the Pacific, the great Sierra Madre del Sur takes a pause on the Guerrerense coast. The stunning ecology which results is a unique conversation between the mountainous jungle, the wildlife rich mangle, and the great Pacific ocean.

“We had the pleasure of exploring this unique and vibrant habitat early November just as the last rains were tapering off and the deciduous forest was preparing its transition into the 6 month dry season which marks the integrated tapestry of all life cycles in the region.

“As an agroecologist, I work with clients to design regenerative forest systems that produce value added commercial products while at the same time revitalising local ecosystems as they increase biodiversity, enrich the soil microcosms, and transform what is often bare or deforested land into a vibrant jungle of species all working in harmony to create exponential growth. Each strata of forest creates inputs for the system in exchange for the forest providing the conditions of life the species need to thrive. The collective engine of this life force is a transformative power of revival we humans are just beginning to understand the potential of.”

Establishing a forest future

“The key to establishing this forest future is first observing and understanding the underlying patterns of weather, ecology, species, and community that are the beating heart of the place and its dynamic evolution. In the case of the Guerrero coast, the conversation between coastal and mountain ecologies has been dramatically evolving over a cool 1.8 million years. We can see the questions, answers, innovations, and experiments that this place as a collective life force has developed by looking closely at its soil, geology, plant life, species life cycle patterns, community dynamics, and the complex tapestry of interactions between its parts which constitutes its sum.”

Adapt to local seasonal ecologies

“Of special interest to us as agro ecologists working in an age of dramatic shift in climate change, are the adaptation strategies this land and its inhabitants have developed in response to the marked wet/dry seasons. Looking forward the two most cataclysmic climate cycles are drought and flooding, many areas projected to be battered by both creating an aggressive denigration pattern. On our first trip to the land we were looking closely at how the native perennial plants and local species are preparing themselves for the arrival of the dry system. What can we learn from these beings that have thrived over time in this special place? How does the wild prepare itself? Feed itself? What can we, as eternal students of the world around us, adopt into our land management practices that support these adaptive strategies? How can we participate in this place achieving its ultimate expression? What genetics, local resources, local leaders, guardianes de semilla, and keepers of local knowledge can we work with and support? What new plant communities can we develop that will extend and enrich successful local patterning to achieve greater system resilience as well as unique experiences and robust regenerative economy for our client - the magical MUSA Hotelito”

Understanding our DNA

“Asking the right questions and listening with a creative and constructive ear is key to any first visit. We must first understand the dynamics of a place, the identity of its soil, and the DNA patterns of its inhabitant life forms in order to, and only there, design the future forests that will work with this local ecology to develop plant and soil systems that can respond to the deep and drastic changes we know are coming from a place of abundance, resilience, and collective life commitment.

“Over the course of our three days diagnostic visit we spent hours observing the soil and plants at the different site locations, talking long walks with the team, documenting through photo, audio recordings, field drawings, and copious nightly note reading and drawings to develop the first take on land development diagnostics which we are in the process of digitising so that we can share and continually develop this body of live research with the dynamic MUSA wizard team.”

“The future is an all-in, mapless, all-hands-on-deck endeavour where the answers and adaptive solutions one region develops, can be extrapolated for dynamic systems throughout the world where these patterns and climate shifts occur. We will have the world we build together.”

Routines and rituals for success

A typical day would start by hopping out of bed as sunrise was starting to peak up over the horizon, blessing those wonderful beds for a good night sleep and soaking up the beautiful cool tones of the room before getting swimsuit, sunblock, notebook, and audio jams ready to walk down to the beach. It is magical to walk or run on the early morning sands, observing what treasures and creatures have played out over the course of the night and early morning when most animals in the tropics are active (avoiding the heat of the day and humans). These Open Discovery sessions are best experienced by each individual on their own, in silence and without a fixed agenda. It is a time to open ourselves to listening to whatever stories the land and sea wish to tell us, to go exploring where our attention is drawn and to witness in silence the way in which one system ends (the night) and another begins (the day).

“Arriving from one glory to the next, morning meetings were most always over breakfast - that deep green mint tropical smoothie, a new recipe for eggs that chef was trying, conversations with the various teams and tables about their reflections of the previous day and agendas and ideas for the work day ahead.

“Mid-mornings were spent focused on specific projects and spaces with the various teams that inhabit and create in these spaces as well as starting the preliminary work of soil testing, site mapping, and species identification for the first four sites identified during the visit as puntos de partido, starting points.”

Setting the agenda for regeneration

“After cooling off in the ocean, pool or patio, we spent the afternoons going over systemic ideas with leadership and specialty teams. We greatly enjoyed every one of these sessions and feel overjoyed at the opportunity of working with such a talented, imaginative, and focused group of individuals. Most sessions were present feedback, collective design, and the analysis of plans over coconut water and a round table, a fluid gathering of the minds and a beginning of piecing together the structure of the game plan which will guide us over the course of the next year. Working together as a compilation of teams, with this rich diversity of life, will achieve the establishment of the Soil Center, Syntropic food forest, Mandala regeneration garden, and an edible ‘Chef’s Table’ forest garden for kitchen experiments, and unique immersive guest experiences.

“As Borges famously said, ‘the map is not the territory’, and while any plan will have its changes, setting out a first map of observations, values, priorities, and time tables enables diverse groups of creators to work effectively and imaginatively together.

Collaboration in teamwork

“As a team, Fénix Farms exists because we believe the great challenge and responsibility and joy of our times is working with communities, and we are overjoyed to be working with this innovative and character-rich team of dynamic thinkers to create regenerative systems. We hope it will serve not only the vision of MUSA - but more largely the region, and the understanding of the iconic climate pattern which it represents for our global future. We believe because we have seen it and lived it, that every system has a life force that if properly consulted can reach its optimal expression. The future is an all-in, mapless, all hands on deck endeavour and the answers and adaptive solutions one region develops, can be extrapolated for dynamic systems throughout the world where these patterns and climate shifts occur. We will have the world we build together.”

Continue on Fénix Farms’ journey with more insights, discoveries, and learnings on Instagram

MUSA’s Makers are creative partnerships with industry leaders who push culture forward and actively work toward positive change in their respective fields. Stay tuned for more details of our creative partnerships as they unravel.


Words by Tegan Noël

Photo & Video by Andy & Tegan Noël / Lover Lover

Special thanks to Juan Pablo Gómez Servin of Estudio Contexto