turtle Lake COmmunity Farm
A SEEDS Design Project
About this Project
A Beta Project/Living Example Site of SEEDS Core Principles in Action
In early 2020, right before the world began shutting down, Hayden & Alia (Co-Founders of SEEDS) moved onto a shared land project in the beautiful Turtle Valley outside of Durango, Colorado. Katrina Blair, the founder of the Turtle Lake Refuge non-profit and long-time community leader, had recently acquired a parcel of land adjacent to her already established permaculture orchard and homestead, immediately doubling the size of her property and with it acquiring a 5-bedroom house, large commercial garage, and two small sheds (which would later become tiny home structures). With this purchase, the community tripled in size from 5 to 15 live-in community members.
At the time of SEEDS’ arrival on the land, there was little to no structure, articulated vision, guiding principles, group agreements or cohesion, clear avenues for learning or participation, or structures of accountability. Quickly, SEEDS began to support the community process through helping to ratify the community’s core concepts, facilitating community design & visioning sessions, holding regular spaces for group emotional processing and relationship-building, and initiating structures for group accountability and collective decisioning-making. Beginning in the fall of 2020, SEEDS guided the community through a 6-month community design process that resulted in the articulation of the community’s primary mission, guiding aims, and actional strategies as a clear pathway for enacting the community’s shared values into tangible forms.
Resultant from this in-depth community process, the mission of the Turtle Lake Community Farm became, To grow a farm school community that cultivates individual healing and self-expression while creating a transformative culture rooted in earth stewardship, authentic co-creation, holistic education, community care, sovereignty, and celebration. In order to meet this guiding mission, one of clear aims generated out of this design process was “to create a functional and aesthetically beautiful farm that serves as a model for sustainable earth stewardship and localized food production.”
SEEDS quickly saw the opportunity to apply their holistic ecocentric design framework in service to this next phase of the community’s development through proposing a more explicit joint partnership with Turtle Lake Refuge in service to this next iteration of Turtle Lake Community Farm. SEEDS proposed an innovative partnership in which it would design, implement, and manage a 1/4 acre regenerative community market garden that could increase food sovereignty, community participation, ecological stewardship, and personal skill-development on the land. The project was proposed and unanimously approved by Katrina and the entire community in March 2021 and by April 2021, first ground had been broken on the empty plot that would quickly transform into a thriving community-based regenerative market garden.
By May 2021, the project was already generating high-quality organic produce, providing the platform for immersive community participation and education, and furthering confidence and competence in the community’s guiding vision as well as the tangible application of that vision. Soon SEEDS was facilitating twice weekly community farm work days, which over the course of the next two years would facilitate opportunities for learning, community connection, skill-development, and personal healing for hundreds of individuals who lived in the Durango area or were just passing through. The community market garden quickly became a centerpiece for holistic eco-cultural development in the bioregion through becoming a living example site of SEEDS’ three pillars of ecocentric values in action.
At this point, the garden not only feeds the entire 15-member community, but also offers low-cost organic food to the local neighborhood through a weekly community-run on-site market stand, supplies several local restaurants with high-quality local produce, and stocks the shelves of the local food co-op. In addition, this project is a first beta site and living example for how innovative models of localized resilience can help neighborhoods and communities weather the reality of increasing food costs due to rising inflation and destabilized industrial agricultural systems in a way that benefits the individual, the community, and the ecology. This first example site demonstrates one tangible application of SEEDS’ ecocentric values in a way that promotes win-win-win solutions, in this case for land-owners, community members, and the earth.
BEFORE, March 2021
AFTER, August 2021
Turtle Lake Refuge
SEEDS Arrives at Turtle Lake Refuge
Due to a series of very fortunate events, Hayden arrived back in Durango in early 2020 and was invited by Katrina to move onto a freshly aquired property adjacent to the land she had owned and stewarded for two decades in the beautiful Turtle Valley.
Shed Conversion into Tiny Home
Hayden and his step-father, Danny, quickly transformed an old utility shed into a 7 x 11 tiny home, lovingly called The Den, which Hayden and Alia would live in for the next 1.5 years until they were invited to build out their next tiny home on the land.
Ratifying the Community Core Concepts
In order to support the community to move toward greater cohesion, safety, and unity, SEEDS facilitated a community-wide meeting on April 2nd, 2020 to review and ratify the guiding Core Concepts of the community in order to serve as an accountability metric for individual engagement and group process.
Community Design Process
SEEDS initiated and facilitated a 6-month community design process in order to support the 15-person community to articulate a shared mission, guiding aims, and actionable strategies to work toward together. This design process was built out of the creative synthesis of a versatility of design frameworks and experiential community processes.
Community-Based Market Garden Design Gets Approved
To support the community’s articulated mission of a being a “farm school community,” SEEDS proposed a partnership with Turtle Lake Refuge to design, implement, and manage a 1/4 acre community-based market garden. Katrina and the community unanimously approved this proposed partnership.
Market Garden Implementation Begins
And so it begins! On April 1st, 2021, SEEDS and friends broke ground on the empty lot that had been successfully bioremediated after heaving pesticide use and now was being converted into what would soon become a thriving community-based market garden.
First SEEDS Community Vision Quest
As part of our vision of supporting place-based cultural regeneration, SEEDS facilitated a pancultural nature-based Vision Quest to support community members to commune deeply with the wilds of nature and their own souls as an ancient practice of individual and communal development and maturation.
Seasonal Community Gatherings
In order to grow healthy and connected culture, we have initated and facilitated numerous community gatherings in honor of the seasonal and lunar cycles that weave us as humans into deeper relationship with one another and the land.
Weekly Community Farm Work Days
In order to serve as a center for community-building around land stewardship, SEEDS began facilitating weekly community farm work days for members of the community and the wider Durango area. These became places for education, connection, and participation. Over the course of two years, hundreds of people have participated and benefitted.
And so the abundance began and was offered to live-in community members at a fair or no-cost rate in exchange for labor, as well as offered at a low-cost to the wider Durango community through selling surplus at the Turtle Lake Refuge cafe as well as the farmer’s market.
SEEDS continued to have a wildly successful first growing season hroughout 2021, culminating in a beautiful fall harvest of many storage crops, community gatherings, and a celebration of how far we had come together as a community in only 6 months of rooting this vision into form.
Second Tiny House Conversation
After living in the 77 sq. ft. Den for 1.5 years, SEEDS was exhilarated to be invited to build out a second tiny home, lovingly named The Honey House because it was originally designed as a honey-processing space. With the generous help, once again, from Hayden’s step-father Danny, The Honey House was converted from an empty shell into a lofted 12 x 12 off-grid tiny home.
Second Community Vision Quest
As a keystone practice that supports evolution across all three domains of the human experience (i.e. self, culture, and ecology), The Vision Quest and nature-based rites-of-passage more generally are a foundational eco-cultural practice for SEEDS. Thus, we guided our second community-based Vision Quest in the spring of 2022 for those who felt ready mark a sacred threshold-crossing into ecocentric adulthood.
Weekly Farm Stand
In order to bring even more folks together around regenerative agriculture, community building, and local resilience, SEEDS initiated and managed a weekly Farm Stand to serve as a time and space where community members and neighbors could tend the land, build relationships, and take home fresh, high-quality, low-cost organic veggies for themselves and their families.
Supplying Local Restaurants & Co-op
In addition to supplying our 15-person community, the Turtle Lake Refuge for their twice weekly donation-based lunch menu, and the neighborhood through a weekly farm stand, SEEDS also initiated and managed business contracts with several restaurants and the local food co-op as vendors for our fresh veggies, such as these amazing and resilient lettuce heads!
Continued Thriving of People & Place
Throughout the 2022 growing season, SEEDS has managed the community market garden as a first example site of its ecocentric values in action, in order to support the continued thriving of the individual, community, and land. In this way, it has served as an innovative model of localized agrriculture, community resilience, and ecological stewardship. All things considered, this has been a wildly successful endeavor and mutually beneficial partnership with Turtle Lake Refuge for all involved. We look forward to continuing to adapt our ecocentric design frameworks to a diversity of communities and places, in order to demonstrate the infinite applicability and replicability of SEEDS’ values in action in service to growing a life-affirming future world.
This Project Across the 3 Pillars of Ecocentric Evolution
Individual Soul Rooted Development
While SEEDS was in partnership with Turtle Lake Community Farm, we explored & facilitated Individual Soul Rooted Development in a variety of ways, including the following:
- 1-on-1 Mentoring
- Vision Quest/Ceremonial Facilitation for Personal Development
- Community Council Practice
- Skill-Development Mentorship
- Evolutionary Mirroring
- Ecstatic Dance
- Regenerative Agriculture Education
Holistic Cultural (Re)Genesis
While SEEDS was in partnership with Turtle Lake Community Farm, we explored and facilitated community building and Cultural Regeneration in the following ways:
- Community Design Facilitation
- Authentic Communication
- Group Decision-Making
- Restorative Justice Harm Repair
- Commoning Practices
- Group Accountability Structures
- Community Council Practice
- Comunity Vision Quest Ceremony
The (Re)Animation of the More-Than-Human World
While SEEDS was in partnership with Turtle Lake Community Farm, we explored and facilitated the Re-animation of the More-Than-Human World in a diversity of ways, including the following:
- Whole-System Permaculture Design
- Regenerative Agriculture
- Vision Quest/Nature-Based Ceremonial Guiding
- Seasonal & Lunar Ceremonies
- Bioremediation Restoration
- Aesthetic Development of Space
“Arriving here is like waking up into a dream that I didn’t realize could actually be how humans could live with one another and the land. Thank you for showing me what’s possible!”
“This experience of living in community has been one of the hardest and at the same time most growthful experiences of my life. I will always look back at this period of my life with awe and gratitude that we all came together to do the work (inside and out) that we did. I know I will never be the same because of it.”
Are You Interested in Working With Us?
We Can Help You Root Your Vision into Time & Place
If you are longing to create place-based community but don’t know where to begin, we may be able to help you create a strategy that could help bring your visions into form. We offer holistic consultation services that support eco-cultural development in a versatility of contexts and locations. We look forward to hearing from you and beginning a conversation about how our skillsets and values may be in service of your vision!