Dirty Hands & Deep Ecology: Session 1

April 16 - April 18, 2021

Lisa Taranto

The Big Picture Topic: How did we arrive at this time of great crisis and great transformation? And how do we responsibly direct where are we going?The Garden Topic: Selecting and starting seeds for your garden, simple propagation techniques, spring garden prep.The Action: Hands-on experience with starting a garden, observation skills.The Knowledge: How to start a garden, what are our diversity of stories in relationship to our bio-regions.Join us for the first weekend in our series on ecological learning at Menla. Ecology is the branch of science that explores how organisms interact with one another and their environments. Ecology is interdependence, interconnectedness, and interrelationship. We will be entering the circle and pulling on strings to see where they take us, dependent on the seasons and cycles of nature and our own personal curiosities. Using the gardens, landscapes and forests of Menla as our living laboratory for exploration, we will take personal journeys into a deeper understanding of nature. It is early spring, and as nature awakens for another circle and cycle of life, we begin to awaken ourselves with her.This session will start with a wide introduction to Menla’s gardens, landscaping, and restorative ecology projects. We will then take a deep dive into the large issues facing the present and the future of our world, with an emphasis on solutions. Through direct engagement with our physical selves, we will contribute to the ongoing restorative ecology work and gardens at Menla. Through the direct engagement of our intellectual selves, we will deepen our understanding of the science of ecology. And through the direct engagement with our spiritual selves, we will deepen our sense of sacred connectedness and community with all living things.Topics: How did we get here? What are the climate and biodiversity crises, and how are they linked? What are the solutions, and how can we be a part of them at both individual and collective levels. How can the power of quiet observation and intentional interaction with our respective bio-regions grow our understanding and connection to place. We will look at nature-based solutions, land management, and agricultural practices which are being implemented around the world. Project Drawdown will be introduced as a framework for personal exploration.Hands On: We will learn how to start seeds, prep garden beds, about soil health, direct sowing cool weather crops, dividing and transplanting perennials. We will work in the greenhouse, the garden and the grounds. A wee bit of invasive species removal. Observations as spring starts to awaken our sleeping forests and grounds.Session 1: April 16-18Session 2: May 28-30Session 3: June 18-20Session 4: July 2-4Session 5: August 13-15Session 6: September 17-19Session 7: October 8-10To register for the entire Dirty Hands and Deep Ecology Series with Lisa Taranto happening at Menla Retreat and Dewa Spa this April 16 - April 18, 2021 in Phoenicia, New York, please contact us at lisa@menla.org.*Guest speakers to be announced. Materials and recommendations for self-study will be provided at registration.
ScheduleFriday, April 16th
  • 4 - 8 pm Arrival & Check-in
  • 6 - 7 pm Dinner
  • 7:30 - 9 pm Evening program and Discussion
Saturday, April 17th
  • 8 - 9 am Breakfast
  • 9 am - 12 pm Learning Through Hands-on Work Project
  • 12:30 - 1:30 pm Lunch
  • 2 - 5:30 pm Hike & Nature Exploration
  • 6 - 7 pm Dinner
  • 7:30 - 9 pm Evening Program and Discussion
Sunday, April 18th
  • 7 - 11 am Check-out of Rooms
  • 8 - 9 am Breakfast
  • 9 am - 12 pm Learning through hands-on work project
  • 12:30 - 1:30 pm Lunch
  • 2 - 5 pm  Afternoon Program and Discussion
  • 5 - 6 pm Closing and Departure
*Schedule subject to change at any time.  


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