Dirty Hands & Deep Ecology: Session 2

May 28 - May 30, 2021

Lisa Taranto

The Big Picture: What is Soil? And what is our relationship with it--the good, the bad, the wasteful?The Garden Topic: Understanding and improving garden soils.The Action: Hands on experience with starting a garden, observation skills.The Knowledge: A diversity of gardening and agriculture methods, bio-regional contexts and techniques.Join us for the second weekend in our series on ecological learning at Menla. Ecology is the branch of science that explores how organisms interact with each other and their environments. Ecology is interdependence, interconnectedness, and interrelationship. There is no beginning and there is no end. 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 all of our complex systems are getting busy.We have covered the “big picture” in the first session. The valley has woken up, spring is re-starting the dynamic relationships in complex systems of species. What is soil, this thin layer of life under our feet? How does it support the web of life?Through direct engagement of 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: What is soil, and how has our relationship with it evolved over the years? How does waste management contribute to solutions and to problems? What are some different approaches to gardening, farming, and large-scale agriculture? What is compost, and how we build our own systems or encourage municipal composting? A look at our global/local waste management systems, and how we can act more like nature and produce no (or realistically, less) waste. We will look at soil analysis reports and learn how to read them.Hands on: Soil and garden bed prep. Planting annual veggies, herbs, flowers and medicinals. Understanding planting schedules, succession plantings, root health. Basic tool and garden maintenance. What are fertilizers, soil pH, and nutrient needs. How to build container planters. Continued observations and interactions with Menla’s gardens, landscape beds, and wild spaces. Invasive species removal.Guest speakers to be announced. Materials and recommendations for self study will be provided at registration.
ScheduleFriday, May 28th
  • 4 - 8 pm Arrival & Check-in
  • 6 - 7 pm Dinner
  • 7:30 - 9 pm Evening program and Discussion
Saturday, May 29th
  • 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, May 30th
  • 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...



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