It’s quite possible Melissa Matarese is the living embodiment of Mother Nature herself.
Matarese, a Doylestown resident, runs Mesa Lifestyle, a business that focuses on “empowering and awakening the inner teacher through art, yoga and nature immersion.” She also teaches yoga classes at Delaware Valley University and at Bucks County Community College.
As a yoga instructor, artist, nature enthusiast, and peaceful free-spirit, she is constantly finding ways to apply her passions to impact the Earth and its inhabitants.
Her latest adventure is at the Hattery Stove & Still this Sunday, November 27. One of inn’s owners, Samantha McCarty, and Matarese are collaborating to raise money and awareness for local hunger relief.
The inn will donate 10% of brunch receipts from 10 am – 2 pm and Matarese will give 20% of all art sales from 10 am – 4 pm to Rolling Harvest Food Rescue, a hunger relief agency that distributes fresh, locally grown produce to families in need.
Matarese talked with Bucks County Taste to give us insight on this “Abundant Earth Art Show.” She shared some ideas on how community members can easily alter their lifestyle in order to benefit the area’s farmers and local business purveyors.
BCT: How did this art show and fundraiser at the Hattery Stove & Still get started?
MM: I had approached Samantha awhile back. I’ve really grown an abundance of artwork over the years and I wanted to have a place to show it. I really wanted to keep it local as well.
I also wanted the show to have more of a purpose behind it, and do something positive for the community. Samantha had been open to the idea of somehow connecting the food aspect of the inn and the restaurant to the show and giving a percentage of sales that day to whatever charity I chose.
I came across Rolling Harvest Food Rescue, and they do wonderful work. They go to local farms in the area and collect their surplus produce and give it to the people in the community who are in need of food. To get that fresh produce is just a beautiful thing, instead of the packaged or can goods they often get.
BCT: Lynne Goldman of Bucks County Taste actually rode along with the founder of Rolling Harvest, Cathy Snyder, to see what a day in her life was like. Does it shock you to know how many people in Bucks County alone don’t have access to farm-fresh, healthy food?
MM: Yes, it does. We live in an affluent community, and I think a lot of us have the tendency to think that most people are living a similar lifestyle to ourselves. The fact of the matter is that’s just not true.
Although I want to help people all over the world and the country, I have the best access to my community. It was shocking to learn [how many people are in need here] and once I did learn, I thought I really need to help.
BCT: In your own life, are you a stay-local-gal? Do you shop local and get your produce from farmers markets?
MM: Local is a very important aspect of not just my morals and the way I live my life, but also my business (Mesa Lifestyle). Whether that be food or clothing or just having meaning behind every dollar that I spend, it is becoming more important to me.
I think it’s about the power of choice—especially now when some of us may feel like power has been taken away from us a bit. We need to remember what we do have power over, and that is the way we treat one another, and the way we spend our money and the way we spend our time. To me, this means trying to do things as local as possible to keep the money flowing into our community.
Eating locally is so environmentally friendly, too. You are getting your produce at the peak of harvest so it has the most nutritional value. You are also eating with the seasons which makes you more in tune with the natural flow of Mother Nature, and you are supporting your local economy. All in all it’s one of the most important things we can do for the environment.
BCT: And Bucks County is great for shopping local. What are some of your favorite local places? Places where you get your produce, or places you can’t find anywhere else?
MM: The Doylestown Farmers Market is a great place to go. Barefoot Gardens is a really nice local farm that I like to support. The Doylestown Food Market is a wonderful addition to Doylestown, and then Organnons Natural Market in Wrightstown is another place I love to go. They also have local kombucha which is a nice treat.
BCT: Tell us more about your artwork.
MM: My two primary mediums are painting and pottery. In terms of painting, I use pen, ink and watercolor. At the show I will be featuring my paintings the most. I’ll save some of the pottery for around the holidays.
The paintings are so inspired by nature. If you take a look at my collection, you’ll see it is all nature-inspired. Mother Nature is what I am in awe of and in deepest reverence to: How she looks, how she operates and just the natural world in general, is absolutely incredible. The more I learn and study about nature, and how to preserve and protect it, the more in love I am with it.
BCT: What do you recommend people do to give back? What can we do in our daily lives?
MM: It’s conscious choices, like how and where you spend your money and your time. So helping out the things you really appreciate in your own community is a good start.
If you really appreciate the cute shops in town, then go spend your money there. If you appreciate fresh local produce, then find a nearby farm, attend your farmers market weekly. Our most powerful choice right now is where we spend our time and our money.
Interested in learning more about Rolling Harvest and its mission? Check out “A Day in the Life: Rolling Harvest Food Rescue” with Rolling Harvest’s founder, Cathy Synder, which is featured on Huffington Post, too!