I don't know exactly how I heard about New Earth Cooking School, I want to say through social media somehow. Whether a sponsored ad was spot on or one of the many foodies I follow on instagram posted about it, regardless, I feel blessed this magical place and my path intersected. Leaving the States I knew that I would spend time here, unsure of when or at what point along my travels, but I was bound and determined to make it happen.
After one month island hoping through Indonesia, my heart had become attached to this country. I did my visa run and returned to Bali on another 30-day visa. I spent time in Ubud and contacted New Earth with my desire to spend a week as part of the family. I quickly heard back with positive news, packed my bags, arranged accommodation a walks distance from the school, and drove an hours distance to reach the school! Dream manifested.
Set in the midst of lush green rice fields and the schools bountiful food-forests the location couldn't be more ideal.
Within minutes of entering the school, a remodeled chicken shed, I had a feeling that I had arrived home. No, my sisters and parents weren't there and I am many miles away from North Carolina, but a sense of belonging, support, excitement, and inspiration over came me. A feeling of "this is where I'm supposed to be at this exact moment" vibrated from a cellular level. The whole space was vibrant, spacious and connected to nature- the kitchen, eating table, community space, all simple yet with an abundance of energy and perfection. Other interns and the staff were dancing and singing into ladle microphones around the kitchen space while music played through the speakers. The smells were overwhelmingly delicious as lunch was soon to be served. The energy was high and it wasn't long before I was swept into the natural flow of New Earth.
We gathered around the day's preparations, a complete spread of freshly prepared plant-based cuisine grown in the school gardens. Joining in a group hug offering gratitude to the food Mother Nature provided and the people that prepared it was a daily ritual. Amidst the most delicious and fresh food of my life and between the "yummms" and "oh wows" that circulated around the table, authentic connections, conversations and sharing took place.
New Earth isn't your traditional cooking school, unless workshops are happening that day for say making tempeh, coconut oil, seaweed jelly, jamu juice, cacao... Learning is a hands on, observe and ask, experiment for yourself type style. The kitchen is designed for you to feel into your true self and express upon your creativity. There were no recipes we were cooking from, just from feelings and wisdom. The daily menu was based on what ever the garden had provided that day (which was plentiful!).
Everyone would arrive to the school around 8am. The day would start with a tea circle, meditation and a time to share any feelings, stories or obstacles, what ever was on your heart at that moment. Group hugs to close the time and lead into the day, of course!
(Photos by Anna Trufanova)
Breakfast was provided as we transitioned into either helping in the kitchen or helping gather food in the gardens. Breakfast was often a fresh smoothie with toppings, homemade coconut yogurt, or if anyone was feeling fancy, pancakes! It was a grab and eat at your leisure type break-fast.
Working in the garden and collecting your food from nature is one way to really build connection to meals. You see how the food is grown, where it is coming from, you give it love and intentions as you harvest, and offer gratitude for the nourishment it provides. It was a great experience to walk around the food-forest, where fruits and vegetables grow freely, no organized rows or perfectly trimmed crops. This style of garden seems to enhance the intercommunication between the plants and thus the abundance and energy frequency of the food.
I finally learned where bamboo shoot comes from and what it looks like. I saw cassava being harvested. I helped collect rambutan as it was being cut from the tree. I ate fresh passion fruit along the trail. Greens, beans, fruits and veggies were gathered and transported back to the kitchen.
In the kitchen, on a daily basis, is a recipe of even parts love, support, creativity, expression and respect with 1/2 cup singing, dancing and laughing, 2 tbsp. life's zest and a dash of guidance when you need. When combined and stirred well, the result is a powerful, tasty, one-of-a-kind experience. The creations of food that come out of the kitchen onto the table for lunch are 5 star. I don't know where to find more fresh, delicious, high-vibrational and intentionally cooked foods than from that kitchen. The quality far surpasses any plant-based meal I would find in a fancy, wear your best, 10-piece-silverware-set place mat restaurant. New Earth cooking is full of heart and soul!
The other interns and the staff at the school quickly became friends, became family. I learned a lot in the kitchen, sharpening my culinary skills with new tricks and techniques, but mainly, they taught me more deeply about myself and the power that already lies within. By everyone showing up as their authentic selves, a safe space was created to reflect my true being, to shed layers of subconscious behaviors and thought patterns and go more deeply into my creative essence. I am truly grateful for the group of stars I shared the week with!
The fun didn't stop in the kitchen. After lunch was shared, the afternoons were open for free-time. This included what ever you wanted to do. Some days I choose to nap, read, take a dip in the near by hot springs, walk through the garden... If people had certain skills they wanted to share, they could host a workshop for the group. A beautiful memory is leading yoga to friends on the balcony overlooking the rice fields and volcanoes. A powerful rainstorm came; as the rain began to trickle, we decided to continue, as the rain began to pour we breathed deep, danced, laughed, and flowed with mother nature. By the time savasana came around, we laid in rays of sunshine. The feeling was so magical words can't begin to express the connection felt between earth, self and friends that followed.
We took plenty of field trips through the school which were educational and of course fun! One day we all piled onto motor bikes and went to a beautiful waterfall, plunging into the healing cold waters.
Another day we went to The Green School. We got a tour of the school grounds and gained insight into the schools mission. The school is connected to nature with the most beautiful bamboo structure classrooms, farm animals, conscious curriculum, and student meal options. We helped offer an afternoon cooking class in the kitchen. I was grateful to see how fun, stimulating and engaging the school system can look.
We also took an afternoon to attend workshops happening in Ubud. The creator of New Earth, Simon, started an amazing plant-based restaurant in the center of Ubud, so ironically named Zest. I finally arrived after a five year quest for zest (haha!)! The restaurant luckily was a favorite of mine not just for the food but the atmosphere. We went to hear a speaking Simon and the New Earth staff were giving. Topics included meditation, importance of connection, where our food comes from, and the importance of sourcing your food. There were two other lectures that day and a dinner at a sister restaurant. The day didn't end there, we went to dance and celebrate a friends birthday after! Of course we brought the life to the party as we sang and danced along with the live music into night.
It so happened that the last day of the Galungan Festival, Kuningan, was celebrated during my stay at New Earth. We were provided the appropriate temple dress and celebrated in two different temples close to the school. Learning and participating in the prayers and offerings was a blessing in itself. Being included in the celebrations felt very special.
The week at New Earth wasn't just a cooking experience, but a connection experience. Connection to self, others, earth and food. I am grateful for my memories made here and they will continue to shape me as I grow.
Even when the week was over, it didn't take long to connect back together in Ubud. We gathered in good company for a beautiful breakfast with high-energy fresh food, creating a feast!
So much love for this New Earth family! Create on!
Hungry for more? Here are some photos by my amazing friend Anna. Follow her photography on instagram @annntrue.ph