Meadowsweet Retreat is entrusted on my family’s 2000 acre estate in Tuscany. Our vision was to create a space where people could truly immerse themselves in the wild, reconnecting with nature, their souls purpose
We have spent the past year working the land and getting to know the forests, waterfalls, springs, meadows and orchards. Our land is spread across 4 mountains and is truly untouched wildness.
Tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Anya Lily, I was born in the countryside of England, Glastonbury. My mother is a herbalist and my father a yoga teacher so we would spend the summers in England going to festivals in an old VW camper van and the winters in India living in Ashrams whilst my dad learnt the way of the yogi.
As you can imagine this upbringing gave me a deep connection with the wilds, nature and a true sense of adventure.
I’ve lived in Asia, mostly Indonesia, for the past 8 or 9 years working with sustainable resorts and farm-to-table restaurants. I’ve lived on boats, private islands, jungle shacks and beach huts and truly loved everything about it.
How did Meadowsweet retreat come to be?
I learnt beekeeping and the ancient Greek tradition of bee shamanism a few years ago which inspired my journey into learning more about their little feminine centric universe. Bees made me realised I wanted to shift my life into working in the field of organic farming and bee guardianship, but I wasn’t quite sure how that aligned with my life in Bali…
After doing a visualisation meditation at a friends birthday where I saw myself living my highest purpose walking through a meadow of chamomile, yarrow, clove, buttercups and wild pea, I had a call from my brother saying he had come into guardianship of a beautiful piece of land in Tuscany and he wanted me to join him to create a farm there. I asked him to send me some photos and he said “no, just come, you’ll see”.
So I came in May last year with the intention of just being there for a month and I never left. I completely fell in love with the land, I have never been to a place with such raw wildness and strong energy like this. It evokes creativity and joy!
Once we had settled into working the land, creating vegetable gardens, having our first harvests and enjoying the food we foraged and grew, we realised the space yearned to be shared as a place for learning and creating. We both have had extremely transformative and life changing experiences at retreats so it felt right to share our lives in this way.
In the first summer I saw the meadowsweet flowers bloom by the river banks, which gave the project its name.
What is your intention with your retreats?
We decided the retreats would always be centred around nature, including a permaculture workshop and things like clay making from the earth dug up from the land, natural dyeing with wild flowers, basket weaving, foraging, wildcrafted medicine making and other ways we could teach and inspire a homestead life.
I hope it evokes imagination, creates life shifts, inspires connection with nature, the self and others.
What does rewilding mean to you?
Rewilding in the sense of nature, is allowing it to govern itself, trusting that nature knows best when it comes to self management. We can give it a helping hand by nourishing the right conditions – by removing logs from dams to free up rivers, by allowing natural forest regeneration, and by reintroducing native species that have disappeared as a result of man’s actions. Then we should step back and let nature manage itself.
Similarly with people, I feel that rewilding is just being in our natural state of community in nature. By being present with the plants, listening to the birds, smelling the flowers and understanding that we are just as much a part of the natural system as a mushroom or a bee we can rewild ourselves to our truest selves. In these moments we have our greatest moments of knowing and intuition, which can be faded in our busy metropolitan lives.
What are you most passionate about?
I’m completely in love with bees which naturally makes me very passionate about flowers, organic gardening, finding natural water sources and doing all that I can to create healthy habitats for them.
Why is it so important for women to gather together in our modern world?
It is our natural state of being to come together in community to support and love each other. There would have once been a time where all women would have come together to forage for food, bleed together and look after each other's babies. When the women on our retreats open up to each other and create life long bonds, they remember these ancient ways.
How did you come across Wandering Folk and decide to include some of our rugs in your beautiful retreat set ups?
I bought one in Bali a couple of years ago and it’s one of my most special possessions, coming with me on all kinds of adventures, festivals and outings. I was sitting by the river here one day and I thought they would look so beautiful to have a selection of them with the women on the retreat sitting with their baskets of foraged plants and picnic foods. I love the carry straps for easily throwing it over your shoulder on a hike and the material is so easy to clean
The most meaningful advice you’ve received and might like to pass on to others?
Collect seeds, move seeds, grow seeds. This is the future, true power comes from growing your own food and knowing how to change the space around you with the redistribution of seeds. This to me not only literally refers to the seeds we grow food and flowers from, but also the seeds of ideas, the seeds of change. We must act like the wind and share the knowledge of nature with one another.
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