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Together at Turtle Rock Farm…In These Times



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.


The New Year at Turtle Rock Farm

Our January 2016 Newsletter

The Human Community Network's photo.

I know a group of people
who for the last year or more
have been studying
how to bring about
systemic transformation.
That was an abstraction
for me until they explained
what they mean. (We’ll get to that.)
At the same time,
I’ve been slogging through
Naomi Klein’s incredible book,
This Changes Everything.
It’s a slog because it is heavy
with information
and because it’s so well-developed
there’s a lot to take in. I still
have about half the book to read,
but I’m taking it as I can absorb it;
then I skipped from the middle
to the conclusion. There I found
much to inspire and encourage
and I think the effort my friends
here in Oklahoma City have been making
and are about to introduce
to the wider community
is an example of what Klein

Climate change, Klein writes,
could be the “grand push,”
that brings together many people,
many movements for change,
that together
can support change,
right the wrongs
of history. “Climate change
is our chance to right those festering wrongs at last…
the unfinished business of liberation.”
It is possible and will take
“the convergence of diverse constituencies
on a scale previously unknown.”

“…any attempt to rise to the climate challenge will be fruitless unless it is understood as part of a much broader battle of worldviews, a process of rebuilding and reinventing the very idea of the collective, the communal, the commons, the civil and the civic after so many decades of attack and neglect.”

The Human Community Network
is a project in Oklahoma
that seeks to bring groups
together to support each other,
recognize the connections,
the interdependency—
the ways one process affects the others—
and work together using various creative
programs and methods
to educate
and make systemic changes
that encourage
the flourishing of life
for all.
This Saturday from 2 to 5 p.m.
in Room 151 Walker Center,
Oklahoma City University,
you can meet these visionaries
and learn about how you
can engage in this effort
to build The Human Community Network.
I’ll be there and would love to welcome you,
share in this exciting time
as we go forward through
an ecological crisis
toward a sustainable future.
“Fundamentally,” Naomi Klein writes:

the task is to articulate…an alternative worldview to rival the one at the heart of the ecological crisis—embedded in interdependence rather than hyper-individualism, reciprocity rather than dominance, and cooperation rather than hierarchy.

This is another lesson from the transformative movements of the past:…they dreamed in public, showed humanity a better version of itself, modeled different values in their own behavior, and in the process liberated the political imagination and rapidly altered the sense of what was possible.

We are at the beginning of our ninth year
at Turtle Rock Farm,
immersed in nature,
leading retreats and workshops
in an effort to help people connect
with the natural world,
of which they are an interdependent part,
and learn sustainability practices.
Now, as we also participate
in the CommonWealth Urban Farm
community in Oklahoma City,
and with Transition OKC,
we are connecting with a growing number
of Oklahomans, by golly,
who are committed to helping create
not only sustainable life,
but flourishing life for all.
The evolution
of our involvement is surprising—
as evolution often is—
and stunningly hopeful.
In many ways
we see not only
a way through the crisis,
but the possibility that we enter
a time of immense change
in understanding,
in perception,
in action
that will benefit
all life on the planet.

More related invitations:
CommonWealth Urban Farms
Neighborhood Potluck at the Garden
is Saturday, October 31,
11:30-1:30 p.m.

Oklahoma City showing
of This Changes Everything,
the movie, is December 1st,
6:30 p.m. AMC Quail Springs Mall.
75 people must reserve tickets
so that the movie can be shown
in Oklahoma City.

In some
cutting edge
ways, it’s not easy being green—
that is, farming—
in the city. The people who live and support
the idea of growing food in the city
in the form of CommonWealth Urban Farms
like plants to grow everywhere—
for food for many
along the food web including insects,
humans. In this neighborhood
the hope is that
trees and bamboo and flowers
and vegetables are planted
and nurtured in every possible space
instead of growing grass,
which requires mowing,
which means watering it
then cutting it,
watering it,
then cutting it…
It’s a personal preference—
for these Oklahoma City residents,
a preference to grow food
and habitat for pollinators
instead of burning fossil fuel
to keep a lawn of grass
and using water conservatively
through permaculture practices
including heavy mulching
and directing water to each plant.
Oklahoma City recently passed
legislation that supports urban farming.
And this week our Councilman Ed Shadid,
assistant city manager Laura Johnson
and other city staff
made a walk-about with CommonWealth community
residents to further the understanding
of how an urban farm works
and why it looks the way it does.





We are grateful for their visit
and their interest
as together we all do the cutting edge work
of leading Oklahoma City into the global movement
of urban agriculture—
of growing food right in our city yards.


Greenest Days at Turtle Rock Farm
Our June 2015 Newsletter

Last fall,
during Urban Ag Week,
we spent one morning in a workshop
exploring the Deep Fork bioregion,
right in the heart of Oklahoma City.
We started at the headwaters
and visited other sites along the creek,
as it flows through human habitation.
It was a thrill to pull back our view
and get a sense of place—
the land forms,
that is our natural community
in the city.
That day it was easy to see
that every inch on Earth
is part of the natural world.


So, we’re going to offer that workshop
Saturday, May 30, 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
We’ll meet at 1000 NW 32nd street,
which is Turtle Rock Farm’s new place
in the city,
in the CommonWealth Urban Farm community.
Yes, of course,
we’re still in the country as well,
up north in the prairie ecosystem.
Over the years,
people have said to us,
things like: “We’re so glad
you’re out there doing that.”
And they’ve asked: “How
do I live sustainably in the city?”
Good question.
Yes, we all must learn how to live
in the city, too.
Living on the prairie
has different sustainability challenges
(observe conventional modern
agriculture practices.)
Many more of us humans live in the city,
where the challenges are different,
including feeling separate
from the natural world.
We want to be more engaged
in these questions. So,
here we are,
settling in,
offering the Sense of Place workshop
again in Oklahoma City.
(To register, go to the calendar page
on our website: www.turtlerockfarmretreat.com)
Our engagement with life—
and city—