"Greenery isn’t just an air-freshener that’s pleasant to look at, it can actually significantly boost employee well-being, reduce stress, enhance innovative potential, and boost a sense of connection. Yet most of us don’t spend much time in nature. Richard Louv, author of the Nature Principal, argues that we’re collectively suffering from “nature-deficit disorder,” which hurts us mentally, physically, and even spiritually. Adding a little wilderness to your corporate offices may just be the smartest move you can do this year."
"Exposure to nature may therefore foster boost superior decision-making which includes better foresight. Exposure to natural environments also strengthens attention and may even help strengthen memory."
"Finally, we know that the #1 trait leaders look for in incoming employees is creativity, and exposure to natural environments dramatically improves our ability to think expansively and make superior decisions."
a naturalist walk
Engage in the sense of wonder as we walk through nature and observe all of the creatures and life that come across our path. Certified by the Tennessee Naturalist Program, Val as your guide will share with you basic knowledge of the area including geology, ecology, and creatures big and small from the donkeys to the insects. The goal is not to have a test at the end, but to slow down from the busy lives, reinvigorate the inner child, and go on a little mystery hunt for what we may find in any season.
An immersion into an ecosystem that may be different than your normal environment, will engage the senses and spark creativity. Maybe you'll notice the giant weeds that may be annoying in an urban setting are actually beautiful in stature and as food for bees and butterflies. We will look at rocks and how the river flows and imagine ourselves back in time in that place. Maybe you'll plan your retreat at just the right time to see the cherry blossoms or on a random winter day when the frost provides such visual excitement in the morning including seeing the icicles emerge from the ground or maybe stepping on them to hear them crunch.
When starting the booking process, please indicate interest in this session. This session can be organized minimum of one hour, over the course of several days, or a longer stretch of approximately 3 to 4 hours. It can also be combined with an art/design/creativity project.
a forest therapy session
Unlike the naturalist walk session, a Forest Therapy session will engage you and your team in wonder and wandering in this sensory experience in the natural surroundings of the retreat center. Val, certified by ANFT, is your guide to slowing down which can be difficult for us in our fast-paced society. A guide works in partnership with the more-than-human world to accompany and support others on the journeys through which they encounter and embody the whole of who they are.
What is Forest Therapy?
This originated in Japan as "Forest Bathing" or "shinrin-yoku" in the 80s when the government recognized an increase in health problems brought about by the intensity and demands of their urban work environment. They conducted much research and realized that humans in the urban world were disconnected from the indigenous land and nature found more commonly in other parts of their country.
Val has been to Japan seven times over a period of 9 years with the most recent trip in May of 2019. Each experience was a cultural immersion in place whether a guiding a group in a study abroad or a personal discovery on sabbatical for 5 weeks, creative immersion research in 2 or 3 week increments and even participating with the Manjiro Society and Grassroots Summit for a homestay in the small village near Nara. The impact of seeing and feeling a society that embraces the natural world was an impetus to founding the retreat center and becoming a certified guide. ANFT, Association of Nature and Forest Therapy, is an international accrediting organization that has developed their own standard practice inspired by the Japanese.
Here's another resource from PBS – Windows to the Wild episode.
When starting the booking process, please indicate interest in this session. This is a 3 hour experience and could be schedule multiple times during your retreat agenda.
a homestead immersion session
One of the greatest benefits of an immersion in this homestead farm setting is discovering a new pace and connection to the cycle of a day or even the cycle of the ecology from the donkeys to the chickens to the compost to the garden, to the saplings and mature trees, to the seasons. Each season provides a different opportunity to seize so make sure you consider this in your planning.
Depending on how long your retreat is scheduled will indicate the type and level of immersion. Options include daily 'chores' of the care and feeding of animals morning and evening, physical activities such as manure/compost and possibly gardening from seed to harvest or nourishing the soil for next planting. You may want to consider an entire retreat based off of this concept and elect all or some of the itinerary in the TASTE retreat workshop.
Each participant will be encouraged to interact socially with the animals from petting, walking, or grooming the donkeys to the happenstance of sitting down outside and have a cat request their lap. This story of rural life is different than the naturalist or forest therapy sessions as it pertains to specific routines and sustenance of people and land.
When starting the booking process, please indicate interest in this session. This could be at minimum a one hour tour to an entire theme of the retreat.