April-October, 2021 • Earth School: Deep Ecology and Eco-literacy at Maha Rose North

April-October, 2021 • Earth School: Deep Ecology and Eco-literacy at Maha Rose North

Earth School: Deep Ecology and Eco-literacy at Maha Rose North
Apprenticeship with Lisa Taranto and Luke Simon

April-October, 2021, Hurley, NY

Exchange: $250 per weekend 

Has Nature been calling you to listen and learn her ways?
From theory to flowers, this course will immerse you in hands-on learning.
Explore and deepen your ability to connect to your respective ecological community, using the land at Maha Rose North as your laboratory. Over 7 months we will deepen our personal understanding of the fundamental interdependence of all geophysical systems and cycles. Elegant cycles in which the human spirit can experience awe, and boundless love for a place.

Topics we will be exploring through discussion and reflection:

  • What is the language and what are the tools we need, stepping into the unknown, together?
  • How can we apply the concepts and actions of deep ecology to our daily lives?
  • How does ecological awareness contribute to a spiritual sense of belonging and worth in our cosmos? Can we learn to see the intelligence and worth of living beings regardless of their utility in human need? 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 and all her elegant systems?

Through the direct engagement of our physical selves, we will contribute to the restorative ecology work at Maha Rose. Through the direct engagement of our intellectual selves, we will deepen our understanding of the science of ecology. And through direct engagement with our spiritual selves, we will deepen our sense of cosmic connectedness and community.

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. Intuition will be bolstered, as we deepen our connection into systems beyond language.


  • The power of consistent and quiet observation
  • Elegant complexity of relationships in nature & human systems
  • Ecological Restoration-what is it?
  • Soil, what is it, what does it do, who lives in it & what can our role be in restoring soil - 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

7-weekend sessions
April 10-11
May 15--16 

June 12-13 

July 10-11 

August 7-8 

September 11-12 

October 16-17 

A typical weekend looks like this:
9-12 learning through hands-on work project and discussions, teachings, and presentations
12-1 lunch break
1-4 learning through a hands-on work project
9-12 learning through a hands-on work project
12-1 lunch break
1-4 afternoon teaching/discussions

Session 1: April 10-11 2021

The Big Picture Topic: How did we arrive at this time for great crisis and great transformation? And how do we direct where are we going?

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 learn about the best tools for our work, and how to use and care for them.We will work in the the garden and the grounds. Invasive species removal begins! Observations as spring starts to awaken our sleeping forests and grounds. 

Session 2: May 15-16, 2021

The Big Picture: What is Soil? And what is our relation with it? What are some different approaches to gardening, farming, and large scale agriculture? What is compost, and how to build your 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 Maha Rose’s gardens, landscape beds, and wild spaces. Invasive species removal.

Session 3 June 12-13 2021

The Big Picture: What is the relationship between Ecology and Economics. What is Ecological Economics? Investigating the exchange of information and energy in ecological systems, how do we measure and define success? How is our own health, and relationship to medical plants a part of shifting our own, and the global economy.

Hands on: Planting seedlings, garden maintenance, harvesting and preservation, mulching and weeding, pruning, compost and fertilizers, container planters, landscape maintenance 

Session 4 July 10-11 2021

The Big Picture: Water and Hydrological Cycles What is the Global Hydrological Cycle? How can we conserve water in our own lives, gardens and bio-regions? What is the relationship between the Catskill Mountains watershed and the millions of people in NYC?

Water. Only about 1% of the water on the planet is available for human use. 97% is salt water, 2% is locked up in ice sheets and glaciers. We are fortunate to live in a water secure region. How is climate change, industry and industrial agriculture contributing to the water crisis? What actions can we take in our gardens and our lives to help rebalance water cycles. Learn about the riparian (stream edge) restoration work we have been doing in the valley, and how it connects to larger efforts in the Catskills.

Hands on: Gardening maintenance, weeding and mulching, harvesting, start seedlings for fall planting, supporting plants-staking, trellising, pruning and deadheading, medicinal plants, flower harvesting.

Session 5 August 7-8 2021

The Big Picture: Cities and Suburbs. Understanding the role of built environments, and their inhabitants, in creating and implementing solutions. The UN estimates that 55% of the global population now lives in urban or suburban settings. Research shows that biodiversity tends to be higher in these areas, as human designed landscapes and gardens contain more biodiversity than rural or wild regions. The impacts of cities and the built environment are complex and have a multitude of opportunities to learn from nature in creating systems which can nurture and sustain each other.

Hands on: Gardening maintenance, weeding and mulching, harvesting, start seedlings for fall planting, supporting plants-staking, trellising, pruning and deadheading, medicinal plants, flower harvesting. 

Session 6, September 11-12 2021

The Big Picture: Forests & Grasslands and Biodiversity: forests are complex systems, in a constant exchange of information and wisdom. We will leave with a quiet intuitive understanding of the immense activity is happening at multiple timelines, scales and beauty.  Trophic Levels, Keystone Species. Bird & Insect ID, Integrated Pest Management. What is intelligence in natural systems? Natural Laws, Ecological Principles, Diversity and Resilient Systems

Hands on: Gardening maintenance, weeding and mulching, harvesting and preservation, seed saving, supporting plants-staking, trellising, pruning and deadheading, medicinal plants, flower harvesting

Session 7, October 16-17 2021

The Big Picture: Eco-literacy, Biomimicry. We will have basic understandings of the complex interrelationships and interdependence of nature, and how this language can be used to design a present, and a future of grace and healing the land, and our human communities. What kind of future can we imagine for ourselves, our bio-regions, and our communities?

The Garden Topic: Putting a garden to sleep, seed saving, thinking about spring.

End of the season tool care, repair and maintenance. Dividing and transplanting perennials. Soil and fertility care, checking on fence conditions, back to some invasive species removal. 

In response to COVID-19, we will be working outdoors at a social distance and using masks when indoors.

1 weekend session = $250
ask about a discount for all the remaining session
Includes lunch, Participants must find their own lodging and transportation.
A recommended reading and resource list will be sent out upon registration. We will then continue to build the list together.

Questions? or to sign up email us: lisaftaranto@gmail.com and lukeprakash@gmail.com

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 heart of the Catskill Mountains. Menla is nestled in 320 acres of diverse and secluded wildland. For six years she has been physically engaged with this remote valley, learning from its wide range of ecosystems--from the highly cultivated to the pure wild. She has initiated ecological restoration work, bringing the land back to a more balanced state, allowing the native seed bank to flourish, and planted hundreds of saplings. She has implemented highly designed and efficient systems, from plant propagation to exquisite gardens. She has guided and taught hundreds of guests and volunteers. As an artist, once upon a time, she was awarded a residency at the prestigious Anderson Ranch in Aspen, Colorado. She continues to creatively work with a variety of media, including the land. Strong of imagination, she works towards a world where all ecosystems are restored, and humanity lives in a kind and interdependent dance with nature, and individuals are connected to their places. Lisa has worked in the philanthropic, public, and private sectors. She holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Luke Simon aspires to live green and to know the magic in the air and the ground. He is dedicated to healing on all levels: in people, political systems and the climate. He leads Breathwork groups, Reiki training and private sessions at Maha Rose North in Hurley, New York. He completed Starhawk’s Sacred Earth Activism apprenticeship in 2017.