Have you ever tasted liquid sunshine?
First, find yourself an untouched field of dandelion flowers and carefully remove enough flower heads to fill a basket. Be sure to thank the plants for their gift, but don’t worry too much – you could hardly diminish its brilliance by a mere grazing of the golden heads. Now sit on a deck in summer sunshine and carefully remove the petals from the green stem base, so as not to have any bitterness in our brew. Next, fill a mason jar with this bright yellow confetti and pure mountain well water before placing your concoction in bright sunlight. Let the sun distill the petals and warm the water until you have a pale gold brew. Sip with friends and let this delicate floral elixir shine through your body.
Now, the truth is, that is just a method for Dandelion Petal Sun Tea. Would such a treat be as enjoyable bought and sold as a commodity in your local health food store? Perhaps not. The real magic comes from the care taken to craft a lowly “weed” into a delightful drink and the offering of it to a community of folks who have just removed their hands from the rich earth to join for a meal under that same bright sun.
This exchange of energy, care, and companionship is the magic of Metta Earth.
My days nestled in the mountains at Metta Earth Institute, a farming community in Vermont, are many and treasured. In the Summer of 2014, I participated in a two-week immersion and returned again for the full growing season this past year. There is no one thing I can distill to summarize Metta Earth. My experience is a trail of moments. Of days spent learning and deep in dialogue about world concerns, with my hands buried deep in freshly turned earth. The themes found in the 2017 Sustainability Immersion program mirror my long-term takeaways of earth skills, contemplative practice, community, and natural activism.
I carry with me newfound skills to connect with what I consume. Whether it is through my budding knowledge of herb craft or strengthened skill in preservation and farm-to-table cookery, Metta Earth brought me the closest I have ever been to the origin of my food.
I carry with me deep appreciation for contemplative practice. Through the integrated practices of yoga and meditation, I began to slow down and breathe into the present and presence of every moment and interaction. A style of life offering reprieve from the sometimes thoughtless and impersonal hustle of everyday life.
I carry with me the desire for rich and diverse community. I seek ways to escape an echo chamber and enrich my thought patterns to encounter new and challenging social situations. To question the culturally given norms we grow into and chafe against when they no longer fit.
I carry with me a newfound voice and urgency to represent the natural world that surrounds us. In college, I found a start with studying sustainability. However, without viable lifeways to follow, my momentum fell flat. Living in a yurt and engaging in the daily rhythms of a land-based lifestyle on the farm and in the gardens deepened my respect for nature and solidified my position as steward.
Now, you may be wondering, what does life after Metta Earth look like? Well, I am still seeking out breadcrumb trails through the forest. The philosophies and ideologies still follow me and inform many choices I make and turns I take. Fortunately, I believe, those paths are moving in the right direction to counter the ways our world is moving backwards. I cannot recommend the Sustainability Immersion highly enough. The immersion is for dreamers, activists, farmers, nature-lovers, protectors, healers, philosophers, artists, and all curious beings. If you count yourself among this category, then Metta Earth may be calling you to discover your home this summer.
Because even now, the taste of sunshine is still on my lips each day and the bright blue sky framed by rolling mountains paints the back of my eyelids each night.
Written by: Ashley Nunez
Learn more and apply to the Sustainability Immersion, July 15- August 19, 2017, at www.mettaearth.org/sustainability-immersion. Scholarships are available.