METTA EARTH institute

A Center for Contemplative Ecology

802. 453. 8111

Earth Responders


A New Farmer Training for Food & Plant Medicine Gifting

Earth Responders empowers activists in finding pathways for social justice and ecologically restorative land stewardship, regenerative community, and resilient cultural renewal

Resilience Activism at Work

April 4 – June 12 • Holistic Permaculture Design
June 20 – August 28 • Regenerative Community Design
September 5 – November 13 • Re-wilding Community Design

With richly experiential earth centered learning, community service, support for innovative projects, this project is an emergent and emergency response to the immense challenges now present on the Earth.

With the continuation of pandemic mandates, Earth Responders in 2021 will engage in a primary focus on regenerative agriculture, food growing, food security, food sovereignty, and plant medicine in order to engage participants working on site in truly “essential” business.

“My time at Metta Earth was expansive in ways that I could not have imagined. Gillian and Russell offer the rare opportunity to engage in farming as spiritual practice in a loving community. They have so much experience and knowledge to share with anyone ready to learn how to live in harmony with all beings. These are genuinely selfless people doing work for the good of the collective. I spent ten weeks tending plants and animals and came to understand that in caring for all the beings around me, I care for myself.
There is an inevitable awakening that happens when interaction with land and people is heart-centered. If you are seeking a shift in your life, this is the place for you. Be ready to work hard, be vulnerable and nurture all around you. You will be nurtured in return.”
– Marion Droe, 2020
The intersectionality of climate and ecological restoration is intricately interconnected with social restoration and justice.

2021 Sessions

Phase 1 & 2 of the Earth Responders Service Residency took place on site at Metta Earth Institute in 2020, and we are preparing for the next phase on site in Spring, Summer, and Autumn 2021. This year, Metta Earth is offering 10 week sessions, each with a theme in concert with the prime focus of regenerative agriculture. Attend one or all of these sessions:

SPRING • Holistic Permaculture Design

April 4-June 12, 2021

Limited to 4 participants, each in one of our 4 yurts

SUMMER • Regenerative Community Design

June 20-August 28, 2021

Limited to 8 participants, each in one of our 4 yurts, 4 wall tents

AUTUMN • Rewilding Design

September 5-November 13, 2021

Limited to 8 participants, each in one of our 4 yurts, 4 wall tents (shared yurts in coldness of autumn)

*Note: For the week in between each session, it is possible to stay on site for a work immersion with no fee.

“Social movements require strong, open communication in solidarity. At Metta Earth the intentional moments of cultivating community have given me the tools to navigate group processes in future challenging environments. Being a listener and advocate and mediator are all crucial to creating strong cohesive movements.”

– Jeremy Berger, 2020

Earth Responders Practices at Metta Earth

Regenerative Agriculture

With the crisis of a global pandemic, the focus of Earth Responders in the foreseeable future needs to align with state mandates requiring that only “essential” work and businesses are allowed.  These include agriculture and food security endeavors, as well as health.

  • Carbon Farming
  • Essentials of Soil: Composting, Cover Cropping, & Fungi
  • Bee Keeping
  • Animal Care
  • Rotational Grazing & Holistic Management
  • Biodynamic & Organic Farming & Gardening
  • Companion Planting
  • Wild Edibles, Foraging, & Sustainable Wildcrafting
  • Farm to Plate: Food Harvesting, Preparation, & Preservation
  • Raw & Fermented Foods: Kombucha, Kimchi, Pickles
  • Dairy, Kefir, Yogurt, & Cheese

Plant Medicine

As essential in the global crisis as food security, plant medicine and herbal healing hold a core place in alleviating suffering. As economic and social systems destabilize, collapse, many traditions of plant medicine knowledge bring great healing potential and offer an abundant contribution to well-being.

Earth Responders are engaged in growing, harvesting, and creating plant medicine to distribute to those in need.

  • Wild Herbs, Foraging, & Sustainable Wildcrafting
  • Cultivation of herbs in gardens
  • Mushrooms & fungi
  • Herbal Tea Harvest & Preparation
  • Herbal salve and oil preparations
  • Vinegars, infusions, decoctions

Holistic Permaculture

Permaculture is an emerging worldview and multidisciplinary design science that addresses global issues with a holistic, systems approach.

Earth Responder sites embody sanctuary for shifts in thinking and practical solutions.

  • Permaculture Ethics & Principles
  • The Permaculture Flower as a World View
  • Designing with Nature
  • Pattern Recognition
  • Site Analysis, Assessment, and Design
  • Polycultures & Guilds
  • The Use of Tools, Techniques, and Technologies in Balance with Life


Deep connection with nature and re-skilling in regenerative processes brings greater sensitivity and healing into agricultural enterprises.

  • Forest Ecology
  • Edible Food Forests
  • Mushroom Cultivation
  • Natural First Aid and Wild Medicinals
  • Wild Food Foraging for Edibles
  • Tool Sharpening and Use
  • Natural Fiber Crafting: Cordage & Baskets
  • Knots, Tarps, & Wild Encampments
  • Bow Drill Fire-making
  • Backcountry Food Preservation
  • Wilderness Ethics
  • Ecopsychology Principles
  • Wild Questing Process
  • Chaos & Creativity
  • Wilderness Leadership
  • Plant & Animal Communication

Regenerative Community Living

Community resiliency is a response to the growing social and environmental crises facing our world. Sustainable community design and practice provides a rich immersion experience to explore whole and healthy communities. Activating systems of economics and governance, biomimicry and natural design, land stewardship, and social justice rejuvenates our communities with deeper sustainability.

  • Cultural Cosmologies: A Study of Past & Present Cultures in Deep Connection with Nature
  • BIPOC Perspectives *
  • Land Access Issues for Regenerative Community (Reparation, Rematriation, & Pathways for Healing Land Oppressions) *
  • Designing with Nature
  • Core Processes Of Community Building
  • Visions, Missions, & Covenants: Refreshing Social Structures
  • Intentional Community Models: Ecovillage, Community Land Trusts, & Cohousing
  • Transition Towns
  • Regenerative Economics: Coops, Barter, Guilds, & Gift Economies
  • Creating Authentic Ceremony & Ritual
  • Creating Sanctuary, Group Safety & Ethics
  • Communication Processes: Co-Listening, Non-Violent Communication, & Way of Council
  • Leadership Models
  • Forms of Activism
  • Power, Privilege, Oppression, & Rank
  • Cultural Safety *

Yoga Meditation

Yoga is rooted in the understanding that everything is interconnected – earth, water, fire, air, space, soil, animals, plants, cosmos, and all beings. Activists stretch body and mind to soften and expand edges, building resilience and flexibility. Practices of yoga and meditation at the river, in the forests, the gardens, and with the animals bring integration of person with Earth. These practices enrich the experience of life. When we are quiet inside, our eyes are open to the vibrancy that surrounds us. This is an opportunity to embody these practices and the contemplative ways of nature, wildness, and farm life.

  • Morning Yoga & Meditation Practice
  • Embodiment Principles & Processes
  • Breathing Practices: Hive Mind, Breath of Joy, & Sounding Breath
  • Sitting, Walking, and Work Meditations
  • Drishti Eye Gaze, Earth Savasana, & other Metta Earth Yoga Practices
  • Deep Ecology & Yoga Philosophy
  • Green Yoga as Environmental Activism
  • Circle Yoga & Partner Yoga
  • Posture Practices with Nature: River, Trees, & Rocks

*NOTE: The bolded topics are essential and need to be taught by BIPOC facilitators.

“Being an Earth Responder has taught me to heal from a place of wholeness. Working both on the land at Metta Earth and remotely has helped me to identify my unique gifts and cultivate them to be of service to my larger community and my planet.”
– Emma Radeka, 2020

Leadership Facilitators

Russell and Gillian will be the primary guides for this year’s Earth Responders session, largely due to the pandemic and needing to keep our leadership circle simple. We are considering inviting one farm couple to join us as support staff. We will invite guest presenters in through online sessions, as well as offer selected webinars, talks, and films.

“Gillian and Russell… so much love, respect, reverence. Infinite gratitude for you. Do not underestimate your positive effect on the world—the evolution of humanity.”

– Joe Sperlak, 2020

Gillian Kapteyn Comstock

Co-Director of Metta Earth Institute

Gillian Kapteyn Comstock, MA, is the founding co-director of Metta Earth Institute and the Metta Earth project, which integrates regenerative farming, contemplative practices, community living, and sustainability education. Gillian offers mentoring, program facilitation, and leadership trainings.

As a holistic psychotherapist, certified permaculture designer, and advanced yoga guide, she synthesizes disciplines to support cultural renewal. She is dedicated to creating sanctuaries for others to experience vibrant presence.

With a passion for discovering the wild in mind, body, and earth, she has led yoga retreats, wilderness quests, and trainings in nature sanctuaries around the world.

For the last dozen years Gillian has intertwined this work with grounding in regenerative agriculture and focalizes this in the care of gardens and greenhouses, carbon farming and grazing processes with Icelandic sheep, Milking Shorthorn cows, and heritage breed chickens, as well as the growing and wildcrafting of herbal teas and medicines.

For more than two decades she has been a participant in the Assisi Institute community, which engages in a highly dynamic interdisciplinary investigation of Jungian psychology, creative process, mythology, and the new sciences.

A mother of three adult children and grandmother of five, Gillian has lived a life immersed in cooperative community, the gift economy, and innovative social processes resonate with natural systems and wild nature.

Russell Comstock

Russell Comstock

Co-Director of Metta Earth Institute

Russell has given his life to living, learning, and loving. As stepfather for thirty years, Russell is dedicated to fathering, family, and community life. Always moved by the soul of earth, he holds an MA in Contemplative and Ecological Leadership and a BA in Human Ecology.

A practitioner of yoga for more than twenty years, he is certified in both Interdisciplinary and Jivamukti Yoga, and brings to all his teaching a spirit of embodied devotion. Russell is a founding member of the Green Yoga Association and serves on the Green Yoga Council. With extensive experience directing programs in wilderness, adventure, and experiential education, Russell integrates a steady intention to help humans connect more compassionately with earth and with each other.

He has trained as a quest and wilderness guide with Earth Rise Foundation, School of Lost Borders, and Outdoor Leadership Training Seminars. He has been a nationally certified Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician (WEMT) for many years, and now maintains a Wilderness First Responder certification. He has recently completed a handbook called: Metta Earth Yoga – Contemplative Ecological Practices for a Sustainable Future.

Apply for Spring, Summer, and Fall 2021 Sessions below:

Earth Responders is an initiative with deep regard and connection for the spiritual intelligence of Earth.

Earth Responders Details

2021 Sessions

Three 10 week sessions, each with a theme in concert with the prime focus of regenerative agriculture.

SPRING:Holistic Permaculture Design April 4-June 12, 2021

Limited to 4 participants, each in one of our 4 yurts

SUMMER: Regenerative Community Design June 20-August 28, 2021

Limited to 8 participants, each in one of our 4 yurts, 4 wall tents

AUTUMN: Rewilding Design September 5-November 13, 2021 Limited to 8 participants, each in one of our 4 yurts, 4 wall tents (shared yurts in coldness of autumn)

Session Details
  • Three 10 week sessions, each with a theme in concert with the prime focus of regenerative agriculture
    • Spring: April 4-June 12 Holistic Permaculture Design
    • Summer: June 20-August 28 Regenerative Community Design
    • Autumn: September 5-November 13 Rewilding Design
  • Note: for the week in between each session, it is possible to stay on site for a work immersion with no fee.
  • Includes: (see schedule for details)
    • 4 hours/day of experiential learning work
    • 2 hours/day of cooperative farm to plate meal making
    • 2-4 hours/day experiential seminars
    • 6 days/week
    • Sunday Open Flow Day
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Metta Earth is nestled in the quietude of the mountains, the stunning headwaters of the New Haven river with abundant waterfalls and pools for swimming, wilderness trails to walk or bike, and 158 acres of Metta Earth land to explore. The nearest town is Lincoln, VT (see full directions).


Meals are vegetarian and lovingly prepared with seasonal, local and organic foods. Much of our food comes from our own organic garden and farmstead. Participants have the opportunity to learn about harvesting, cooking, food storage, and other aspects of organic local food.

  • Fee for each session is $2500- $5000 (sliding scale) for 10 weeks
  • 2 BIPOC full scholarships
  • Additional scholarships (beyond sliding scale) are need based
  • Full work exchange, in place of payment, is possible
Daily Schedule

6-7:15 Morning Practice (yoga asana, pranayama, sitting meditation, and/or other

contemplative practices)

7:15-8 Transition & Breakfast

8-9 Attunement, Check-in & Morning Hands Work

9-11 Experiential Learning Work Period

11-12:30 Experiential Learning Work Period (includes midday farm chores), Farm to Plate Meal Making

12:30-1:30 Lunch & Seminar Topic

1:30-2 Lunch Clean-up & Community Care

2-4 Open Time

4-5:30 Experiential Seminar

5:30-7 Experiential Learning Work Period (includes evening farm chores), Farm to Plate Meal Making

7:00-8:00 Dinner ~ breakout in open meal gatherings

8:00-8:30 Clean-up & Community Care

8:30-9:30 Experiential seminar, open events, discussions, films, personal reflections, or

personal space options

COVID-19 Protocols
  • 2 weeks hermitage retreat with packaged meals. Social distancing & masks during community times
  • 8 weeks in the Metta Earth “pod” without these protocols
  • Staying on site and in surrounding outside landscapes
  • All sessions have small groups to allow for adequate quarantine protocols, especially in the coldness of spring
“Being part of the Earth Responders team has restored my faith in humanity; I feel like part of a collective of incredible like-minded people, learning from and growing with each other. This experience is giving me the confidence to share my passions and be able to make a difference!”
-Christine Krolewicz, 2020 

Earth Responders Collaborators

Our intention is to contribute to a growing movement of resilience activism through land stewardship, regenerative community, and cultural renewal. We hope to expand the number of sites for Earth Responder activism. Possible sites to collaborate with would be any places that have quarantine capacity, especially since the current pandemic is creating many levels of uncertainty. This may include places such as camps, boarding schools, and colleges that have commercial kitchens, sleeping accommodations, and meeting spaces. In the future we plan to have much greater outreach for BIPOC communities to have land access on various sites.


Metta Earth is the founding collaborator for this project.

Metta Earth Institute, Inc. (MEI) is a small non-profit, tax exempt, 501c3 educational, retreat center in Lincoln, Vermont. Metta Earth institute offers retreats, trainings, programs, workshops, and consultations to integrate:

  • contemplative practices such as yoga and meditation
  • ecological, sustainable community life ways
  • wilderness awareness and ways to reconnect with nature
  • creation of sanctuaries for communication, art, soul & psyche.

Metta Earth Institute is a place to explore solutions for a global shift of consciousness supporting the revitalization of a care-based society and a rejuvenation of nature and earth.

Our collaboration with Earth Responders consists of:

  • On-site Earth Responders Residency
  • Service Activism
  • 10 adult activists
  • Regenerative Agriculture/Permaculture: food production & gleaning processes
  • Plant Medicine: growing, wildcrafting, medicine making & gleaning processes
  • Regenerative Community Living: integration of skills, practices, life processes for sustainable culture
  • Cultural Safety Training (BIPOC facilitated)


We are a non-profit organization rooted in our deep love and respect for plants and wild places, our reverence for the human body and spirit, and our joy for sharing our work and creations with the world.

It is our mission to share joyful, hands-on education and wellness through plant medicine while honoring all our herbal traditions. Our approach is rooted in sharing a sense of place, nurturing curiosity and creativity, and inspiring ecological stewardship. We foster community action to enhance equitable access to the abundance of seasonal, local plant medicine, to build resilience, and to promote the practice of the honorable harvest.

Our collaboration with Earth Responders consists of:

Gleaning medicinal herbs from Earth Responders sites

  • Collaboratively creating salves, tea blends, & other herbal products using plants harvested from Earth Responders sites
  • Collaborating with Spoonful Herbals to distribute plant medicine to local community members in need
  • Webinar-based support collaborating with a team of local herbalists & indigenous leaders to guide Earth Responders in developing skills of plant-based wellness sovereignty
  • Field supervision developing and implementing operations systems to safely and sustainably harvest and process local medicinal plants from Earth Responders sites