Mooove & Gobble III
Last weekend we Moooved & Gobbled for the third year in a row - raising our largest charitable donation yet while hosting a rejuvenating, delicious weekend retreat for the books. I am still caught someplace between being speechless and having endless things to say; my heart is so full.
Three years ago, my boyfriend, Mark, and I daydreamed about creating a wellness retreat that involved all of our favorite things: fitness, nourishing food, rescued animals, a time-out immersed in nature, good vibes, and giving back. It was from this daydream that we created Mooove & Gobble Retreats, a completely not-for-profit retreat designed with the intention of giving back to yourself while giving back to others. We are so proud of what it has grown into in it's third year!
This year, we shook things up a bit and offered an overnight option in addition to our usual day-of event so as to keep the good vibes rolling. We hosted at Woodstock Farm Sanctuary in New York, and thanks to an incredible sponsorship by The Rothman Institute, all of our food costs would be covered, allowing us to donate all proceeds to the sanctuary! This is how it went down:
Friday, July 13th
Check-in began at 5pm, and guests were shown where they would be staying the night: rustic (but air-conditioned!) cabins that we had set up with fragrant flowers, rose quartz healing crystals, energizing incense, weekend program booklets, and cruelty-free toiletries provided by Hand in Hand Soap, Schmidt's Natural Deodorant, Hurraw! Balm, and a variety of vegan-friendly shampoos and conditioners from our friend Jess at Architeqt Salon in Philadelphia. Yes, it very much was "glamping."
As guests arrived, we set up in a general picnic area in the middle of the sanctuary. We enjoyed the fresh country air and the company of rescued pigs, chickens, turkeys, and a curious cat as we got to know each other over a few practice rounds of corn hole.
Before you knew it, a small group of us (myself included) found ourselves in a funny situation: a caretaker was flagging us down because she had a favor to ask of us. She had gone into one of the feed barns to retrieve some treats for the cows, but the cows figured out her secret and were so excited for the treats that they were blocking her exit! Now, my dog has done this to me before, but she weighs 15 pounds. This poor woman's exit was blocked by four 2,000+ pound animals, too excited for their treats to move! So, what did we have to do? Dance to get their attention - and it worked!
Once the rest of the group saw what we were up to, they all joined us and we began to tour the sanctuary. We started by feeding alfalfa treats to the same cows that we had won over with our dancing a few minutes prior, and they couldn't have been more excited! The coolest part: even though they are giants, cows are incredibly gentle animals. Each of the cows we met, in addition to all of the other animals at the sanctuary, were previously abused by the hands of other humans. Yet, they each took the treats ever-so-gently from our hands, trusted us to pet them, and some of us even got sticky cow kisses! Once we ran out of treats, we continued our tour by visiting the turkeys, chickens, and goats.
Mark's favorite animal is a turkey, and the story about how this came to be is a pretty cute one. A few years ago, I took him on a weekend trip to his first sanctuary, Farm Sanctuary, also in New York. We brought along our pup and stayed in the cutest B&B (on the actual sanctuary!). On the first tour we joined, he met turkeys for the first time. He couldn't believe how much they are just like dogs: they get excited for visitors (they run right over to meet you!), know their names, and love to sit on your lap while you pet them. Even better, if you scratch them under their wings, they purr - just like a cat! We shared this story with our guests, and a few of them tried it out - sure enough, cuteness ensued!
Our visit to the birds was cut short by a wild guinea fowl who had recently befriended the turkeys - and was so worried about their safety that he kept zooming around us in circles! Our tour guide, Jess, told us that all animals are welcome at the sanctuary, and that we'd have to move on because we were stressing him out. With that, it was on to the goats!
Visiting the goats was definitely the highlight of the tour. I think we may have been in that field for at least an hour - right into the most stunning sunset! I guess it makes sense that the next thing that all of us tried our hand at in that magical golden hour was... goat selfies:
Once the sun set we headed back to the outdoor picnic area for some corn hole and chill. We shared stories about our favorite animals, cracked open a few beers, and enjoyed endless s'mores with delicious vegan marshmallows generously donated by Dandies. Originally, we had only planned on serving food on Saturday, allowing our guests to go out and explore New Paltz on Friday evening, but because everyone was having such a great time we decided to surprise and delight with a "Make-Your-Own-Rice-Bowl" fireside meal. Mark had brought along extra food for our team that night, so we got creative with that and some of the extra produce that we brought along and came up with this fun, simple, family-style buffet:
- Whole Grain Brown Rice
- Tangy Turmeric-Spiced Seitan Chick'n
- Lots of Organic Veggies (Cucumbers, Tomatoes, & Avocado)
- Various flavors of Organic Hummus
Once the group called it a night (some opted to stay in the cabins while others pitched tents under the stars), our kitchen team got to work: cleaning up dinner and prepping for the next day's meals. We'd be serving breakfast post-run around 9am and lunch at 230pm, and had a lot to do: salt-roasting beets, infusing syrups, and a whole lot of chopping. Hats off to my helpers - I usually lead the charge on this, but because I am currently in an arm cast I had to go straight chef-style and delegate. Not one of them has ever worked in a kitchen before, but let me tell you: they'd absolutely crush it if they wanted to! Fastest learners ever, no complaints, and absolutely fantastic knife skills! They carried out my vision and then some! I am so grateful for their help.
Saturday, July 14th
Before we went to sleep the night before, we spent a half hour sitting outside underneath the stars. I thought it didn't get any better than that, but it did: waking up on a sanctuary is even more magical than going to sleep on one! It was so peaceful and energizing - it's a morning I will never forget!
The first thing on Saturday's agenda was a sunrise run with RUN215 founder, Jon Lyons. A few of us woke up in the wee hours of the morning to start breakfast prep and to ensure that plenty of coffee was ready for our runners while Jon mapped out the route. Once our runners arrived and were fueled with coffee, he led them on a running tour of the sanctuary grounds and of the surrounding area.
As the fitness team ran, the kitchen team prepped! Everything that we served, including the sauces and drizzles, were homemade, plant-based and organic. On deck for breakfast:
- Whole Grain Vanilla Protein Waffle Bar with Infused Syrups (Spicy Ginger Maple & Blackberry Basil), Creamy Coconut Almond Drizzle, and Dairy-Free Chocolate Chips
- High-Protein Tofu & Spinach Scramble
- Sweet and Savory Hash: Plant-Based Chorizo, Sweet Potatoes, Yams, Peppers, Onions, & Spices
- Trishmoves Runner's Food Bars (donated by Trishmoves - thank-you!)
- Plenty of Freshly-Pressed French Press Coffee served with Non-Dairy Creamer
Breakfast was served from 9-10am, and our day-of guests began arriving at 10am. We made sure to have extra coffee, water, and snacks available for them as we set up the day's big event: our bootcamp workout on the sanctuary grounds - with a live DJ!
The bootcamp was inspiring, to say the least. DJ Dom facilitated the good vibes while animals watched on in awe as Leroy and Shannon led the group through quite the workout - using a combination of bodyweight exercises, banded exercises, team challenges, and their quirky motivational phrases for a 60-minute workout that I doubt any one of the crew will soon forget!
After a much-needed refuel and breather in the air-conditioned lodge, it was finally time to meet the animals! Woodstock Farm Sanctuary has over 400 rescued animals, and on today's tour the group would be meeting some of their cows, pigs, chickens, sheep, turkeys, and goats. The fitness crew tagged along on the sanctuary tour, while the kitchen crew stayed back to prep lunch (yes, more food!).
While our guests were hanging out with all of these cuties and getting more adorable animal selfies, we were in the kitchen prepping lunch. On the menu:
- Make-Your-Own Taco Bar featuring:
- Whole Grain Tortillas & Corn Tortillas
- Spicy Vegan Chorizo (Seitan)
- Turmeric-Smoked Black Beans
- Spicy Sweet Pineapple Salsa
- Creamy Avocado Crema
- Cilantro, Sriracha, & Spices
- Charcuterie with Miyokos Vegan Cheeses (donated by Miyokos Creamery - thank-you!), Bright Pink Salt-Roasted Beet Hummus, Organic Vegetables, and Gluten-Free Super Seed Crackers
- Hydrating and Bright Watermelon Gazpacho
- Big Summer Kale Salad with Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Bell Peppers, Avocado and Creamy Apple Cilantro Tahini Dressing
- Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies donated by Crust Vegan Bakery (thank-you!)
As we enjoyed lunch and shared animal stories, we held a raffle for all of the donated items from our non-food partners. We had an incredible selection of prizes, including: a 123FRÉ Skincare Set from FRÉ Skincare, a Giftcard to juju salon & organics, a Giftcard to Phila Massages, a Hidrate Spark Smart Water Bottle, an "Eat Plants" Dad-Hat from Wear Bare Bones, a lululemon Gym Bag and a Class Card to BPM Fitness, and a 1-Year Membership to City Fitness in Philadelphia. A huge thank-you to all of these companies!
Next up, we had a little surprise: a few of our guests found out that one of our team members, Ram, is a rapper.. and requested a performance. Our amazing DJ, Dom, set up Ram's music and found him a mic. He performed, and might I say crushed, his motivational single "Flow State" for us. Ram is quite the performer, and got everyone on their feet, singing along to the chorus, "Flow State.. Be Great!"
After Ram's impromptu performance, another surprise: a guest of ours, Lori, makes decadent homemade and organic vegan chocolates - and brought a sampler pack for every guest! Thanks again, Lori!
Okay! So, you may be wondering, what did we end up donating to Woodstock? Drumroll please...
We could not have done this alone, and we definitely could not have done this without the help of our team, our sponsors, our attendees, and everyone who donated money/food/prizes:
- To our Kitchen Team (Mark, Ram, Dom), to our Fitness Team (Jon, Leroy, Shanon), and to our DJ (Dom again!), thank-you for making this event truly amazing! You inspire me and I am grateful to call each of you family. #VGang
- To our event sponsor, The Rothman Institute, your generosity not only allowed us to make this event bigger and better, you gave us the tools to surpass our fundraising goal! From the bottom of our hearts, thank-you for believing in our vision.
- To our attendees and to anyone who donated, we cannot tell you how much your support means to us! We built it, and you came (and many of you from so far away!). We can't do this without you. We hope you had an absolute blast and are inspired to make more compassionate choices - for yourself, for the animals, and for our planet.
- To all of our food partners (Koia, Dandies, No Cow, Trishmoves, Crust Vegan Bakery, Miyokos Creamery, Cavallucci Chocolates), you are delicious - inside and out! Thank-you for providing your scrumptious treats: our guests got to experience your plant-based magic, you allowed us to save hundreds of dollars on food, resulting in a larger donation. Thank-you!
- To all of our non-food partners (Hand in Hand Soap, Schmidt's Natural Deodorant, Hurraw! Balm, FRÉ Skincare, juju salon & organics, Phila Massages, Hidrate Spark, Wear Bare Bones, BPM Fitness, City Fitness, Architeqt Salon), we are humbled that you took the time to donate your product, time, and/or both to our guests. You surprised & delighted and continue to have an impact on the experience that our guests had at our event with your products and experiences that align with our goals. Thank-you!
Want more? Check out @FlywheelSports Instagram Stories on August 10th - I'll be taking over Flywheel's national Instagram page for all of the behind-the-scenes action (think kitchen shenanigans, a peek into that incredible bootcamp, views from the sunrise run, cute animal boomerangs, and more! I have hours of footage that I am excited to share with you!).