It was an exciting day
at CommonWealth Urban Farms.
The community prepared
for a special visitor,
spreading wood chips on a muddy path,
sweeping leaves and sticks
from the garden entrance,
filling an Oklahoma-made basket
with tender turnips, radishes, baby carrots,
micro greens and a card
with all our “thank you” messages.
All this
because Thunder player Kyle Singler
was coming to donate
$10,000 to CommonWealth!
He had visited the farm
a few weeks ago
and evidently liked what he saw
because we soon received word
that he had decided to make
a significant donation.
Friends, volunteers,
Closer to Earth youth
and others in the CommonWealth community
greeted this tall, friendly young man
who explained during the presentation ceremony
that friends in his home state of Oregon
were urban farmers
who taught him the value of growing
nutritious food locally, right in the heart
of the city.
We exchanged gifts—
a giant check
and a basket of food—
and toured the garden again,
lush and green
even now, mid-January!
We posed for happy photos
and widened the friendships
and the CommonWealth community.

The funds will be used
to build a hoop house
and improve CommonWealth’s
infrastructure. Kyle noted
that CommonWealth is near “my backyard”
and that he wants to support the community
that supports the Thunder team.
We hope he knows he’ll always
be welcome here.

DSCN9369Awaiting arrival

DSCN9372Friends in CommonWealth community

DSCN9373Closer to Earth youth

DSCN9380The Presentation ceremony

DSCN9401Farm Tour


DSCN9366Lia Woods and Allen Parlier, CommonWealth Urban Farms

More photos here, on The Thunder OKC website.


Chef Kamala Gamble of Kam’s Kookery
has just given us some hints
about this year’s prairie dinner
local foods menu:

Sun-dried tomato Crostini
Barb’s Homemade Pimento Cheese on Crostini
Anti-pasti-Seasonal Roasted Veggies

Fall Vegetables minestrone or Pureed Southwest Vegetable Chowder

Fall Salad with Local Spiced Pecans and Local apples or Pears with Blue Cheese

Slow Braised Bergen Beef Brisket with Au jus
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Roasted Local Vegetables

Chocolate Torte with caramel


Savoring this fresh, perfectly prepared,
colorful, healthy and scrumptious food
alongside gentle friends
on the prairie at Doe Creek
as Earth rolls up and sun shines
golden…oh my…


And this year, along with the appetizers,
Transition OKC will announce the recipient
of its Community Catalyst Award.
It honors a person who is a catalyst
for Oklahoma City’s transition
to more local resiliency.
Looking forward to helping honor
that person!


We heard too
that fiddler extraordinaire
Kyle Dillingham
will come to Turtle Rock Farm
fresh off a gig
at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds
before 30,000. His concert
in our round-top barn
will be much more intimate.
You won’t want to miss it.

It’s time!
Reserve your place at the table:
Green Connections website.

There are people
who can’t stand
to let kitchen straps, coffee grounds
go into the garbage,
or—worse—use electricity
(burn fossil fuel) to grind
them into oblivion
in a garbage disposal. There is gold
in those kitchen scraps!
But not everyone has the space
or a source of carbon (leaves, manure, etc.)
to compost. Wheeling
into your Norman or Oklahoma City
neighborhood or office complex
to save the watermelon rind, onion skins,
wilted flowers, coffee filters full of used grounds,
egg shells, shredded pizza boxes (!), etc.,
is Fertile Ground. Often on bikes—
“Dirt Bikes”—
the members of this worker-owned cooperative
make weekly pickups of buckets of clients’ scraps
then deliver them to the closest urban farm
or community garden for composting. Clients
know that they are keeping waste
out of the landfill
and helping support the local food economy.

11708056_696596357140090_3870419073066591634_oEric Whelan delivering kitchen scraps to a community garden

I happened by the pickup spot at CommonWealth Urban Farms
a couple of mornings ago
when Terry Craighead was meeting a client
who worked nearby and stopped
on her way to work
to drop off her bucket with scraps.
They greeted each other,
Terry exchanged the bucket for a clean one,
they bade their “see ya next week” farewells
and off to the office she went.
This amazing act of kindness for the planet
and the community
took a few minutes,
allowed her to keep valuable nutrients
out of the landfill or sewer system
and contribute them to the making of garden beds
for urban farms and community gardens.
For this service
she pays a small monthly fee.
Besides local residents,
businesses also participate in the service,
gladly paying the fee for Fertile Ground workers
to pick up all those coffee grounds
and scraps,
and shredded pizza boxes.

DSCN7783Terry Craighead with coffee ground from a local business

Fertile Ground coop offers other services
as well: permaculture design for urban lifestyles;
construction, design and maintenance of raised bed gardens,
and zero-waste events for organizations and companies.

Today, I read news
of the loss of a five-square-mile chunk of Greenland’s
fastest-moving glacier (perhaps the largest calving on record);
more evidence of the biodiversity decline
in this, the sixth mass extinction on the planet.
Also, that the first airport in the world
to run exclusively on solar power
has launched in Cochin, India.
The huge news—good and bad—
can sometimes overwhelm us,
even paralyze our own efforts.
But the sight of a woman
bringing her pail of kitchen scraps
to Fertile Ground, a privilege
for which she pays $15 a month,
was deeply heartening. Seeing one woman
and a cooperative of workers
doing these simple acts
because they care about the planet,
is huge news.

It rained before dawn;
cloudy, sprinkles still,
early morning. The big garden
at CommonWealth Urban Farms
is quiet and, seemingly,
when I take my pail of kitchen scraps
to the compost bin in there.
The more I get to know this farm,
the people who tend it—
the more I love the place,
the people,
the mission,
the beauty.


It is not always easy for some
to see
the deep significance for the planet
and all Earth life
in this garden
and the many plots
of an urban farm. But stopping
on a cool (it’s 62 by mid-morning)
August day
to take in,
value deeply
the growth here
is to be moved to beg
Earth herself
to help us
find our way
to support growing food
in the city—
in every space possible.
(Yes, we can live—
well, beautifully—
without grass!)
It won’t look like what we’ve
perceived as a beautifully landscaped
neighborhood. It will be beautiful
in a different way.
There will be composting areas
which means there will be
rich, organic soil.
Rows of squash plants
may be covered now and then
with a cloth covering
to keep the cabbage worms
out. This sort of method,
as well as others, means there will not
be toxic chemicals in the soil,
air, water,
in the food.
With deep mulching
and permaculture practices,
there will be growth
without the use of so much water.
There will be fruit and nut trees
in a forest
rather than large lawns of grass
that has to be watered,
The air will be cleaner.
There will be more birds
living in trees and thickets.
There will be pollinating insects,
including bees and butterflies.
There will be supportive
to get all the work done.
Youth and children
will learn how to grow
their own food.
There will be healthy, fresh food
right at your front and/or back door.


For the planet’s sake;
indeed, for our sake as well,
we must learn to see differently.
We must learn to redefine beauty
and then we’ll see
infinite beauty—
the deep, quiet,
lush, verdant, nourishing beauty
of a vegetable farm
in the heart of the city.


It rained in the night—
two inches,
which is a lot
lately; lately
being in the last couple of years.
Must have been more rain upstream
because Doe Creek,
which has been “bone dry,” as we
say around here,
was out of its banks by daylight.
It was a thrilling day.
Rain gushed through outlets
into the Big Pond.
The forecast is for big promises
of rain,
all week. Sadie,
who has been walking across the pond,
may be in for a surprise!

That strip of orange beneath the horizon…that’s water!

By evening,
the orange and pink sky
reflected brightly in standing water
along Doe Creek.
And the little peeper frogs
had come up from the dry places
to sing.


Our next Simpler Living Retreat
is Saturday, March 28.
It may seem a drop in the bucket
these days
to consider that any one of us
living more simply
could help each other, all Earth life.
But imagine what would happen
if each of us started with one change,
and then many of us kept making the changes
that come from caring about healthy life
for all living beings on the planet.
Living Systems Theory
describes the dynamic operating in systems:
all the parts respond to each other
as all the parts do what they do
from the values they contribute
and that’s what results
in the next change in the system.
Imagine that not using paper napkins
and paper towels
and using cloth instead
(yes, I know, they must be washed—
in cold water, with biodegradable soap,
and hung up to dry and folded
without ironing) or
hanging the clothes out to dry,
could make a difference,
but it does—
in several ways.
Saves trees,
which absorb carbon dioxide
and create oxygen;
create beauty
and clouds. Drying the cloths
on the clothesline
uses less fossil fuel,
creates less carbon dioxide
and does my soul good—
and my heart, being outdoors,
watching them flap
gently in the air,
smelling the freshness of the air
on bed sheets and towels…
Every little bit matters
in very many ways,
not the least of which
is adding another smidgeon
of the value of care
into Earth’s living system.

During the retreat,
we’ll consider the causes of our consumptive lifestyles,
take a reflective time to consider shifting priorities,
take inventory about what changes we want to make
and enlist the support of others
simplifying their lives.
It’s always an uplifting day.

To register, go to the calendar page
on our website.

Feeling wretched
with the flu
the last two days,
wanting so much
to do the pressing things
I had planned,
yet incapable
of doing them.
I am mindful
of people in Boston
who have been house-bound
for days. People who can’t work
or go to school. People who probably
can’t find their bird feeders
under the towering snow.
I am in touch with a friend
who lives in Boston.
She tells me that she has found
the hibernation
a creative time. Her words
are startling: I had forgotten
that I used to use time when I’m sick
for restoration,
for letting go
and just being. It was an involuntary
time to let my body heal,
my mind rest,
to connect with whatever it is
that breathes me.

When did I get so caught up
in all the things I do
that I can’t spend a few days
not doing them?
I almost missed my chance.
This snowy, sunny day
I will sneeze
and shiver
and ache
and sleep
and cough
and sink deeply
into nothing…
I will drink tea,
gentle myself,
watch the birds
and rabbits
for awhile.


Next Page »