On May 27, almost the start of the summer, EstYes volunteers who are participating in projects all over Estonia had the chance to join a two day event in Tipu Nature School. The event ‘5 senses’ was led by Karlīna – a fellow volunteer from Latvia.
In the span of two days, volunteers explored their connection to each other, themselves and, most importantly, nature. All that through human senses – eyesight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. And spending a lot of time outside.
Nature here in Estonia is very different than in other parts of Europe, and for volunteers coming from Italy, Spain or other countries, Estonian nature can even seem a bit exotic. As surroundings and connection with the outdoors affect how we grow up, think and learn, it is truly one of our greatest teachers which is why I found it important for people (especially those who volunteer in cities) to experience such a pivotal part of Estonian identity and learn. Understand why Estonians value spending time in nature, why they take such good care of it. Train our awareness by learning to see plants and each other, by learning to hear different kinds of sounds and learning to touch, smell and taste plants through the foraging workshop – to not be afraid of nature and connection.
So what did we actually do these two days?
EstYes volunteers and mentors jumped in this experience getting a tour around Tipu and it’s many corners. We explored our hearing and awareness, and tried to count and become aware of different kinds of sounds, hearing different birds, wind and each other, after that seeing who heard different things.
We connected through speaking about our life experiences and getting our hands dirty with clay right away! The purpose of this activity was to explore a natural material and doing something that most people did when they were younger – playing with mud. We made portraits of things that we associate or first saw in each other. After that we destroyed our masterpieces, practicing non-attachment and letting go.
The day continued with a foraging walk. We went on a hike through the little paths around Tipu’s woods and the hiking trail next to the river. This was personally my favorite part of the event, as we could discuss different edible and medicinal plants and share how the plants grow differently in other parts of Europe, as well as interact with the environment and eat them! We talked about, touched, smelled and tasted spruce tips, dandelion, lady’s smock, wild garlic flowers, stinging nettle, meadowsweet and lady’s mantle and others.
After the foraging walk we delved into our communal kitchen and made lentil soup together, including also one foraged ingredient – stinging nettle! Most were pleasantly surprised about how well it turned out.
After a well deserved lunch break, we jumped straight into the gardening workshop, learning how to replant flowers, pumpkins, salads and cucumbers. Getting to know weeding and mulching, trellis building and, most importantly, snail collecting, ha! An important job to provide food for our ducks and make sure that the freshly replanted plants don’t get eaten by them right away.
A tremendous thank you to everyone that got their hands dirty and left a truly felt mark in Tipu’s garden!
The rest of the shenanigans happened around the fireplace where we gathered to make pizza. Huge thank you to Vincenzo and Julia for doing all the hard work to make everyone happy with all the absolutely delicious food!
The night continued with conversations around the fire, Estonian fairytale readings and settling into the tipi tents for a cold but good night’s sleep.
Projekti rahastab Euroopa Komisjon Euroopa Solidaarsuskorpuse programmist.