METTA EARTH institute

A Center for Contemplative Ecology

802. 453. 8111

SEEDS Learning Project

SEEDS Learning Project

Innovations for the Emerging Generation

Nourishing the Seeds of Life

Our intention is to cultivate a deep reverent sympathy for the Earth, who unconditionally nurtures us, and her helpers. Reverence and an impulse of devotion toward protecting the Earth evolves out of a kin-centric relationship with the kinfolk in the young person’s direct environment (plants, animals, insects, watersheds, mountains, forests, gardens, seeds, our family of life) uniting with our own vitality and joy that germinates out of gratitude, interdependence, and reciprocity.

SEEDS Learning Project


Contact Us

Please contact us for more information about any of the following ways SEEDS can provide enrichment education.

Early Childhood Education

Our program is inspired by both Waldorf and Montessori approaches to education, as well as the incredible natural world. We believe that it is of utmost importance to preserve the wild spaces within each child. It is within the wild spaces that we can connect deeply with our own true selves, each other, and our sense of place and purpose… as an essential part of the whole.
The flow of the seasons and what’s happening in the natural world guides the curriculum through story, activity, art, movement, music, and of course ample time in nature and the gardens. Our focus is on each child’s whole being, and we are committed to giving our best to care for each child emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually.

We are currently offering a three mornings per week program for children ages 4-6 years old. Our intention is to offer a grounded and nurturing environment that supports the whole being and positive social interaction with one another, and the greater world.

Field Trips for Schools

Metta Earth’s farm, fields, and forests create an ideal environment for rich, nature based experiential learning. To enrich your school curriculum a wide range of on site field trip options include farm to plate processes, gardening, animal care, composting and other soil building techniques, earth skills such as bow drill fire making, carding and spinning wool or felting, food processing, and basket making. The nourishing practices of mindfulness, meditation, ecopsychology, forest walks, and other therapeutic experiences can be created to ease stress, anxiety, and other emotional and social challenges. Field trips can be customized to meet classroom needs and interests.

We are also able to offer age appropriate experiences with a climate adaptive and resilience focus to support hope inspiring activism and leadership. Gaia’s mutually beneficial support systems suggest interdependence, a kinship, with of all beings in the family of life. We present to the children imaginations and rhythmical experiences of the goodness, truth, and beauty of a sheltering Earth, not climate emergency. When a child’s direct experience of climate emergency/crisis occurs our guides respond with an healing antidote, a compassionate response model, and inspire a practice of developmentally appropriate and skillful climate activism.

Support Retreats

Along with offerings for student participants, Metta Earth is ideal for parents, teachers, staff, or other school community members to gather for individual or group retreat. We can provide lovely indoor and outdoor gathering spaces, farm to plate organic meals, and/or facilitated support sessions. We can customize these retreats with a medley of enrichment experiences.

Earth Responders

Earth Responders are often able to provide mentorship, companionship, and support to individual children or groups of children wishing to learn different skills and practices. See the website page for lists of possible nourishing offerings.

Seeding Moments of Quiet Companionship

Meet Your Guides

Russell Comstock

Co-Director of Metta Earth Institute

Russell Comstock, Co-Director of Metta Earth Institute, Inc., has given his life to living with purpose, teaching, mentoring, and loving this world. 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. Always moved by the soul of Earth, he holds an MA in Contemplative and Ecological Leadership, and a BA in Human Ecology.

Russell developed and directed one of the state’s most innovative adventure education programs for Vermont’s largest mental health agency. He also worked as a team leader on the Pathways program, which aimed to boost graduation rates and support a self-directed, personalized learning curriculum for high school students. The program garnered national attention and was very successful for the 5 Vermont towns that it reached.

Russell has trained as a quest and wilderness guide with Earth Rise Foundation, School of Lost Borders, and Outdoor Leadership Training Seminars. Russell was a nationally certified Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician (WEMT) for 18 years, and now maintains a Wilderness First Responder certification. A stepfather of three for thirty-seven years, Russell is dedicated to fostering belonging in fathering, family, and community life.

JoAnne Dennee

Guide and Pedagogical Support

JoAnne Dennee is life long early childhood educator since 1974 guiding children through intimate food and land-based educational journeys on farms, in forests, and in gardens by weaving into the child’s direct experiences therapeutic story and puppetry, earth-based art, and seasonal Earth honoring gatherings. In recent years she serves as pedagogical mentor for Waldorf early childhood educators applying her BS in N-6 and Psychology, Waldorf Teacher Training, and Biodynamic Agriculture. During her 27 year tenure at Lake Champlain Waldorf School she served as Early Childhood pedagogical chair and the College of Teachers chair.

Weaving together her respectful interest in cultures of heredity and agrarian communities she has celebrated the dignity of indigenous people in her service toward the Quechua women and children of Peru in the Qewar Social Project, and has grown heritage crops for the Abenaki Land Link Project since 2019.

As author of 3 food community education books published by Food Works and in her current support of Common Roots Farm LLC she joyfully engages in farm to school curriculum writing and video development through a mentorship program with local college interns. It is an honor to plant and tend a demonstration Abenaki Gateway Garden applying indigenous and biodynamic horticultural practices.

In the spirit of building cultural bridges, reciprocity, and the rematriation of indigenous seeds an Abenaki garden curriculum guide for local public schools is being authored by JoAnne in consult with Abenaki Chief Don Stevens. Living with gratitude and relationship to restorative Earth practices she is guided by her mantra, “The Earth Is Our Medicine”, as she crafts herbal medicinals and Edible Mandalas.

Allison Graham

Guide and Pedagogical Support

Ali has a MA in Counseling with a concentrations in Wilderness Therapy and School Guidance. She and has been in private practice for 11 years. She works with children, families, couples, and individuals. Ali loves supporting and caring for children. She has led groups in Waldorf schools, and outdoor education and therapeutic programs. Ali developed curriculum and implemented new college courses in the fields of equine assisted therapy, mind-body connection, and wilderness therapy. One of Ali’s passions is growing food in community.

She is a certified Permaculture Designer and has developed community gardens and farm to plate experiences. She has also spent many years teaching meditation and mindfulness practices. Ali was approached about the possibility of starting an outdoor children’s program in the area and so she began to bring together a team of individuals to spearhead this endeavor.

She is mother, an avid leaner, community member, mentor, and supporter of sustainable and life force enhancing activities and she has tremendous passion for supporting this emerging generation.

Joe Sperlak

Outdoor Educator

Working the land most of his life has taught Joe the power of slowing down and paying attention. He is a farmer, soil microbiologist, landscape designer, gardener, meditation guide, land whisperer, tree hugger, and artist.

He seeks to inspire awe and curiosity in the natural world, empowering people to develop their own relationships with it. Exploring, playing, and getting his hands dirty have been the most powerful tools for Joe to learn about himself and the ways he can be of service to others. He loves to teach and is a lifelong student.

Lizzy Woolf

Guide and Pedagogical Support

Lizzy Woolf is passionate about holding space for children to deeply connect with and learn from their world. She finds joy in watching children become themselves, as individuals and in community with each other and the Earth.

Lizzy deeply believes that this happens when children are given the time to explore and the support to learn. Lizzy has a degree in Environmental Sociology with a particular focus on how children interact with their in environment. Since 2014 she has been a teacher throughout Vermont first at The Schoolhouse Learning Center, then at the Quarry Hill School, and currently at Treewild Forest School.

Along with being an educator, Lizzy is a parent, a homesteader, and holder of a wide variety of intentional spaces. She spends her days hosting gatherings and workshops, curating a collection of semi-precious stones, and tending the gardens and animals on her families homestead in Monkton. 

Sa Budnitz

Family Coach

Sa is a pediatric occupational therapist with a bachelor’s degree from the Fachschule für Ergortherapie Lippoldsberg and a somatic dance therapist with an advanced degree from the Langen Institut Monheim in Germany. She specializes in encouraging healthy child development with a strong emphasis on creating & nurturing healthy relationships.

As a family coach Sa offers private consultations that address all kinds of developmental challenges like emotional upset & demanding behavior including tantrums, anxiety, frustration, crying, and more. Her holistic approach focuses on supporting the adult so they can support their child to create happy, healthy and balanced family dynamics.

Sa believes that a loving, educated, and intentional approach to parenting shapes our children’s environment in a positive way, helping them to mature and fulfill their unique human potential.

She and her family live and love in Burlington, Vermont.

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 education, 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. She has also taught 1st and 2nd grade in a Waldorf inspired school.

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, grazing processes, and growing and wildcrafting of herbal teas and medicines.

For nearly three decades she has participated 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 and innovative social processes.

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