a nature immersion residency program
in the rural rolling hills of mid-south TN
the foothills of Appalachia,
near Natchez Trace on the edge of the Buffalo River
get Lost, find Joy
let your creativity flow like the Buffalo River
and be inspired by visits to our private riverfront
Rewarding experiences occur when we get LOST – lost in thought, lost in a good book, lost in translation, lost in conversation, lost in place.
Residencies available for creatives of all walks of life and career stages, but those who are emerging or even still in grad school are highly encouraged to apply. Affordable options for less than 30 days or multi-month averaging one to three month stays.
Sarasvati creative Space @ Camp Wonder Wander offers a safe, comfortable and creatively designed space in a rural setting for participants – designers, writers, artists, musicians, filmmakers, storytellers, performers, or those just seeking a creative outlet – to get lost; to explore their inner dreamscapes and rejuvenate one's inner spirit; to carve out the time and space needed to start, finish, polish or develop projects or portfolios; to generate ideas, to create and engage in experimentation needed in the design and creative process. All residency participants receive a complimentary Forest Therapy walk during your time to introduce to the land.
The namesake – Sarasvati – is the Hindu goddess of knowledge, music, arts, wisdom and nature. This is a non-secular place that invites all walks of life to pursue your creative passions.
WHO? Ideally suited for emerging or re-emerging artists, creatives of all colors, parents/families (based on the calendar of availability) and all those who are inspired by or collaborate with nature. Private rooms available with ensuite or shared bath while living spaces are shared. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and scheduling based on occupancy availability. More information in the residency overview
WHERE? In Lewis County (named after explorer Meriwether Lewis), the 5-acres plus an additional 12 acre parcel as a natural terrain and primitive campground on Buffalo River is located in the beautiful mid-south Tennessee hills near the Natchez Trace Parkway. This area is called the Western Highland Rim and features some really interesting terrain and geology. Approximately 1.75 hours drive southwest from the rich, culturally diverse city of Nashville; 1 hour from Florence, AL to the south or Columbia, TN to the east; and 3 hours east of Memphis. Our camp and farm atmosphere is approximately half-way between Hohenwald and Waynesboro, TN on state road 99. There are a few neighbors in site including surrounding farms. This is an intentional escape from larger populations. Check out the local resource guide here and if you have enough time to explore this guide is helpful.
COMMUNITY & CAMARADERIE: The goal for the retreat center is to have opportunities for participants and short-term residents to be involved in the care and maintenance of the homestead style facility along with the gradual development of sustainable lifestyle activities. Our garden is expanding every season. We have numerous chickens and a rooster, 12 donkeys including miniatures and foals of various ages, and a peafowl couple. The camp cats, rabbit and tripod Pyrenees are there to be your loving muses. Gradually ongoing activities will be added for traditional craft - candle-making, paper-making, canning food, etc. - that allow individuals to connect with an inner spirit for inspiration, re-invigoration and respite that is inevitable with this type of endeavor. The pottery studio is available for work with clay.
Sarasvati creative Space at Camp Wonder Wander and the Wanderful Farm is an amalgamation of the slow-food movement, locavore movement, and the sharing economy in a unique blend of youth hostel meets guesthouse meets ‘airbnb’ meets summer camp. Individuals may visit for mentorship and coaching while developing or re-working a portfolio, to spend vacation time in a unique blend of creative exercises and exploring the natural surroundings, or spend time focusing on a sabbatical, post-graduate or special projects.
Organizations may access the facilities for retreat purposes or to participate in creative workshops that can be customized based on needs of the group and the expertise of any artists-in-residence interested in getting involved. During off-season for workshops, the facility would be available for reunions, corporate or non-profit retreats, school trips, and scout troops to ensure that the property is maintained and that proceeds contribute to upkeep, future renovations and upgrades. Visit Camp Wonder Wander for more information on small group company retreats.
In our artist agreement, we ask that you leave something of your work behind - a tiny handwritten poem on the cabinetry, an illustration strategically placed on interior or exterior wall, or physical objects that can be displayed. Val, your host and founder/director, is very interested in working with environmental artists in a collaborative manner to document your work over time. Also seeking muralist to enhance exterior spaces on site and interested in working with you on grant applications for that purpose. More information on our residency page.
COVID-19 UPDATE: How has your life changed since the start of the pandemic? Do you value time away from enclosed spaces and yearn for a bit of immersion in nature? Vaccines are widely available and being in the outdoors is one of the best places!
This is a great time to focus on your work as a creative person to get into nature for it's inspiration and motivation.
Accepting residencies for the year as our space provides ample room for social distancing featuring 17 acres to explore on foot.
Lodging features private rooms and either private bath or shared with possible one other person.
The affordable residency fee is even better if you stay 30 days or longer. Check out FAQ here.
or submit an application to coordinate your plans.
Come visit us! We'll visit you while you work.
EACH JOURNEY IS UNIQUE
Ready for an inspirational nature path? Part of the Camp Retreat facility includes a 12-acres campground along the lazy Buffalo River that is accessed with this magical tree lined path past the old wise tree. Complimentary Forest Therapy Walk for each resident at some stage of your stay with your host as a certified guide.
Longer term goals, there will be off-grid micro-shelter and tiny home style spaces for use in the residency program.
Residency lodging is walking distance to the pine path and the river.
My time in the Sarasvati artist residency was nothing short of life changing. I spent two months at the residency building a body of work to apply for graduate schools. I did not really know what direction I wanted my art to go before I came to the residency, but the space lends itself towards unfettered creativity and artistic freedom, allowing me to take my art down new, unforeseen paths. With few distractions, I was able to enter into a routine where I was much more productive than I would have been at home. Being able to go on a meditative walk down to the river or to just step outside and visit with the donkeys helped to keep my mind grounded as I worked. It’s a beautiful place where it’s easy to appreciate the changing nature all around you, a landscape which lends itself to artistic expression no matter what form it takes. I also met great people while I was there and had inspiring conversations while sitting around a campfire or looking at the stars. The artist residency left an indelible impression on my life, and I know that the course of my life will be changed because of it.
- Brent Rowley (residency February - April 5, 2021)
Camp cat buttercup on the front steps of the Raspberry Residency House.
Artist in residency works outside in the spring weather with the donkeys in the background along with the green grass and the cherry tree.
Hannah Gumbo during her residency realizes she is a donkey whisperer with fozzie bear donkey.
Artist in residency program allows you to get into nature for fun or work such as plein-air.
You too can become pals with the donkeys.
As often as possible, social time can include a campfire.
Pottery equipment is available, please inquire.
The sunsets here can be magical and include lovely color inspiration.
The trees and clouds create a lavender sky during sunset as winter turns to spring.
Our bamboo grove is a destination for escape or nature inspiration.
You'll find landscape and a variety of flora and fauna here including the camp cats that want to be with you.
The donkeys love visitors.
ligh pollution free zone
forest therapy session
For all residencies as close to your arrival time as possible, you will receive a complimentary Forest Therapy session. As an introduction to the land, you'll engage in wonder and wandering in this sensory experience in the natural surroundings of the retreat center. As your host is certified by ANFT, Val will be 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.