Deep Ecology & Dirty Hands as a Path to Nature Based Solutions: Full Program 9 Weekends

April 03 - April 05, 2020

Lisa Taranto

An 8 month intermittent weekend apprenticeship at Menla, with Lisa Taranto. What language and tools do we need to step into the unknown together? How can we apply the concepts and actions of deep ecology to create solutions in our daily lives? Explore and deepen your ability to connect to your own ecological community, using Menla's precious land in the heart of the Catskill Mountains as a laboratory for discovery. The Pantherkill Valley, Menla's home, has long been used for sacred practices, and we continue this tradition today. Over 8 months we will deepen our personal understanding of the fundamental interdependence of all geo-physical systems and cycles, elegant cycles in which the human spirit can experience awe and boundless love for nature.How does ecological awareness contribute to a spiritual sense of belonging and worth in our cosmos. How does it shape our collective environmental philosophy and help us see the intelligence and value of all living beings regardless of their utility to human needs? What does non-human intelligence look like? Can we radically restructure modern human systems to elevate our regard and understanding that this interconnectedness sustains life for all? How do we turn grief into productive healing of our great Mother Earth? Through direct engagement of our bodies, we will contribute to the ongoing restorative ecology work at Menla. Through the direct engagement of our minds, we will deepen our understanding of the science of ecology. And through the direct engagement of our spirits, we will deepen our sense of sacred connectedness and community.Delve into a deeply immersive learning experience--the anticipated results are a heart-centered understanding of how ecological systems work, our place as humans in our respective ecological homes, and how to create, build and regenerate systems that are healthy and nurturing for all living things.This registration page is for the full 9 weekend program please see dates listed below:
  • April 3rd - 5th
  • April 24th -26th
  • May 29th - 31st
  • June 26th - 28th
  • July 17th - 19th
  • August 21st - 23rd
  • September 18th - 20th
  • October 23rd - 25th
  • November 20th - 22nd
If you are unable to attend the full 9 weekend experience we are offering a 7 weekend option and a 5 weekend option.Please note that Menla is unable to provide an option that is less than the 5 weekends. As this program is quite immersive, classes are curated to provide participants with a particular curriculum based on the weekend option you choose. Due to this structure we are unable to mix and match dates to suit individuals personal schedules. Once the program begins on April 3rd Menla is unable to offer any type of rate reduction or refunds for unattended class time.
THE BIG PICTURE—> What will we leave with?
  • Eco-literacy: The ability to understand the organization of natural systems & the processes that maintain the healthy functioning of living systems and regenerative life on earth. Through working in the gardens, landscaping & restorative ecology  projects, three seasons experiential learning will inform individual curiosity and independent research.
  • Nature-Based Solutions, Innovation & Creativity: Currently nature-based solutions to the climate crisis account for 2% of the investment in solutions to the crisis & species extinction. This is not enough. We will deepen our understanding of what nature based solutions are, how to apply this understanding, positively impacting at local & global levels.
    • Spiritual Ecology: All life is sacred, everything is interconnected. Honoring the lives of all living things, we will nurture our intuitive connection and understanding to the natural world.
    • Service: Embracing an ethic of care—care for the land, all living things, and the natural human inclination to serve beyond the personal.
  • Systems Thinking: Deepen the intuitive understanding of how things influence one another in a whole, and how to best design systems.
  • Regenerative Action: How do we care for ourselves and our communities in a way that the caring and generosity is self perpetuating.

HANDS ON TOPICS & SKILLS COVEREDMenla is building a new 8,000 SF garden starting in 2020, so beyond the existing gardens, forests and native landscaping, we have a new project to apply all kinds of experiential learning.
  •  The power of consistent and quiet observation
  •  Elegant complexity of relationships in nature & human systems
  •  Ecological Restoration
  •  Soil, what is it, what does it do, and who lives in it, and what can our role be in restoring it
  •  CARBON! And the role of Holistic Land Management
  •  Water, global cycles and local impacts and relationships
  •  Pollinators-role our insect communities within an ecologically balanced system
  •  Birds!
  •  Composting to reduce landfill impacts & feed your soul
  •  Edible annuals & perennials, flowers, culinary & medicinal herbs
  •  How to extend the session for longer production times
  •  Starting your own seedlings and plant propagation
  •  Understanding permaculture principles and techniques
  •  Companion planting, and what to plant when
  •  Daily, weekly, monthly, seasonal, annual maintenance
  •  Amendments—what are they?
  •  Integrated pest management
  •  Cut flower gardens, annuals, biennials, perennials
  •  Tools! what tool for the right job, and tool care & maintenance
  •  Harvesting for maximum production
  •  Native plants vs invasive plants
  •  Working with shade
  •  Saving seeds
  •  Effective weeding
  •  Plant ID
  •  Mushrooms, fungi, mycelium

Sample ScheduleFriday
  • 3 - 7:30pm Check-in
  • 6 - 7pm Dinner
  • 7:30 - 9pm Opening Teaching/Discussion
  • 8 - 9am Breakfast
  • 9am - 12pm Learning Through Hands On Work Project
  • 12 - 1pm Lunch
  • 1 - 2pm Afternoon Break
  • 2 - 5pm Learning Through Hands On Work Project
  • 5 - 6pm Evening Break
  • 6 - 7pm Dinner
  • 7:30 - 9 Evening Teaching/Discussion
  • 7 - 11am Check-out of Rooms
  • 8 - 9am Breakfast
  • 9-12 Learning Through Hands On Work Project
  • 12 - 1pm Lunch
  • 1 - 2pm Afternoon Break
  • 2 - 5pm Afternoon Teaching/Discussion
  • 5 - 6pm Closing and depart


Lisa Taranto

Lisa Taranto is an explorer of ecology and the dynamic elegance of nature and natural systems. She holds more than three decades of study, practice, curiosity, and adventures in ecology, art and design. Currently she is the Head of Horticulture at Menla Retreat Center, in the hea...



375 Pantherkill Road, P.O. Box 70 Phoenicia, NY 12464