METTA EARTH institute

A Center for Contemplative Ecology

802. 453. 8111

Earth Responders

Earth Responders

A New Farming Training for Food & Plant Medicine Gifting

Resilience Activism at Work

Earth Responders empowers activists in finding pathways for social justice and ecologically restorative land stewardship, regenerative community, and resilient cultural renewal. With richly experiential earth centered learning, community service, support for innovation, this project is an emergent and emergency response to the immense challenges now present on the Earth.

April 15 – November 15 • Ongoing Seasonal Applications

Earth Responders in 2023 will engage in a primary focus on regenerative agriculture, food growing, food security, food sovereignty, and plant medicine.

We are networking with other organizations to provide greater food security. See the ways in which Earth Responders are making food and plant medicine donations.

Let us know if your learning style and modes of communication would be better served by an offline, handwritten, artistically expressed, and/or oral version of this application. We are happy to honor various ways of knowing.

The intersectionality of climate and ecological restoration is intricately interconnected with social restoration and justice.

Rotationally Graze for Carbon Farming

4 Tenets for Metta Earth

The Earth Responders is a project engaged in

expressing, innovating, and actualizing these tenets:

  1. New Farmer Education…MENTOR FARMERS
  2. Regenerative Farming…GROW FOOD
  3. Food Justice Donations…DONATE FOOD

Earth Responders Practices

Regenerative Agriculture

Regenerative agriculture is a central focus of Earth Responders.

  • 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

The Arts

The Arts teach us how to access flow states of awareness. Becoming comfortable with improvisation, spontaneity, and surprise expand our options for creative problem solving. These are essentials in innovating solutions for the tough challenges of our times.

  • Authentic Movement
  • Wild Sculptures
  • Earth Mandalas
  • Poetry & Wild Mind Writing


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.

With Gentle Cultivation of the Earth, Cultivate Leadership

Leadership Facilitators

Russell and Gillian will be the primary guides for this year’s Earth Responders growing season. We also will have various guest presenters and support guides. Also many Earth Responders have important skills, ways of knowing, and offerings that are valuable to share, so many opportunities will be open for this exchange, as a community of learners, leaders, activists.

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

Co-Director of Metta Earth Institute
Russell Comstock

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.

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

Earth Responders Details

2023 Sessions

Earth Responders in 2023 may apply for a minimum of two months or the whole season from April 15 – November 15.

Season Details

Each Day Includes:

  • 6 hours/day of experiential learning work
  • 2 hours/day of cooperative farm to plate meal making
  • 2-4 hours/week experiential seminars
  • 6 days/week
  • Sunday Open Flow Day
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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. Meals are cooperatively prepared.


Options include wall tents, possible yurt space, or you are welcome to bring your own camping gear, tiny house, or camping vehicle. The main house is open for laundry, bathroom facilities, dining, and the large, beautiful main kitchen. A hot water outdoor shower is available also and an outdoor kitchen area.


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).


Earth Responders happens with a full work exchange for 3 organic, nutrient dense, cooperatively prepared meals/day, accommodations (see previous tab), support and guidance for contemplative practice, nourishing & vibrant community, and richly experiential learning.

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

Celebrate the Harvest for Gifting

Earth Responders Organizational Network

For Food and Herbal Donations

Our intention is to contribute to a growing movement of resilience activism through land stewardship, regenerative community, and cultural renewal. Earth Responders are engaged in regenerative agriculture and permaculture for food production, growing plant medicine, wildcrafting, medicine making, and gleaning processes. All of this supports food and herbal donations.

Metta Earth is dedicated to growing organic produce and plant medicine to contribute to food and wellness sovereignty in our local community, especially now with the challenges exacerbated by the pandemic. As we continue with Metta Earth’s regenerative agriculture focus, the Earth Responders project is increasing our capacity to grow, harvest, and donate food and plant medicine to organizations in our bioregion. In 2020, the Earth Responders program at Metta Earth donated over 200 bushels of fresh, organic produce to the community.With such abundance of plant medicine, we are committed to developing more pathways for plant medicine donation. One of the most accessible and important donation pathways right now is through mutual aid.Metta Earth Botanicals hopes to donate various herbal medicines to the Wabanaki COVID-19 Relief efforts in Wabanaki territory of the northeastern United States, a community that has been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
We also hope to donate bulk herbs and herbal products to Herbalists Without Borders, a non-profit organization that hosts free clinics, distributes herbal medicine to community members across the country, and leads community-supported herbalism initiatives.
With the conception of our new Metta Earth Botanicals CSA, we plan on making 2 shares per month available for local BIPOC folks at no cost (these community members may register on our website). We will also provide CSA members (and everyone!) with an option to sponsor a monthly share (or shares for the whole growing season) for a BIPOC community member.
We also intend to seek out avenues of donating herbs to apothecaries and healing practitioners who may distribute these remedies to their clients with a gift economy/sliding-scale approach.

Food Donations


Farms to Kitchen to Communities

Stirring soup on the hearth • Stirring happiness in the heart • Stirring hope on the Earth

  • The farm provides a large percentage of organically grown, nutrient dense food, both fresh in season and preserved for the long winters. 
  • As a working farm and permaculture site, Metta Earth Farm facilitates educational experiences in carbon farming, restorative agriculture, plant medicine, and regenerative food systems. 
  • The farm also regularly offers food to the larger community with a small CSA, seasonal farm stand, small store, occasional sales to local schools and other markets, and seasonal donations to local food shelves

Our collaboration with Earth Responders consists of:


-Collaboratively …harvested from Earth Responders sites

-Collaborating with … to local community members in need

-…team of local leaders to guide Earth Responders in developing skills of…

-Field supervision …from Earth Responders sites




Our collaboration with Earth Responders consists of:


-Collaboratively …harvested from Earth Responders sites

-Collaborating with … to local community members in need

-…team of local leaders to guide Earth Responders in developing skills of…

-Field supervision …from Earth Responders sites

Herbal Donations


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


Building community around plant beings & herbal medicine.

The beginning of the Metta Earth Herbals story doesn’t start at the beginning of Metta Earth’s presence on this land — it goes back many millennia, to include the stories of the many beings who have lived on this land throughout history. Our effort with Metta Earth Herbals is to be a part of the planet’s healing process by helping others to immerse themselves in a deep connection with plant beings and herbal healing. We seek to be of service through medicine making, passing on folk knowledge, on-site and virtual immersive education, and herbal donations.

Our collaboration with Earth Responders consists of:

-Collaboratively creating…

-Collaborating with …members in need

-Collaborating with…a team of to guide Earth Responders in developing skills of plant-based wellness sovereignty

-Collaborating…safely and sustainably harvest and process local medicinal plants from Earth Responders sites

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