Events @ Listening Tree, permaculture

Plans, plans, plans

Plans are shaping up for 2019. As part of our social permaculture, the community made new year’s vision boards, and shared with each other our individual visions for the next year. My (Karina’s) biggest plan is to plan:

  • write up the results of our group permaculture planning to date;
  • complete a Natural Resource Conservation Service forestry plan with a local forester, complete with medicinal herb preservation, agroforestry, food forest expansion, woodlot management, and biodiversity enhancement;
  • integrate the permaculture and forestry plans into an official conservation plan for the farm with the Northern RI Conservation District.

And we’re planning events. We already have the Pollinators workshop that had to be postponed from last October set for May 18. And the potlucks will again return to the first Saturday of all the warm months, April-October.

We might host an herb workshop, a spoken word night, the Young Farmers Network, compost toilet workshop, and bring back some faves, like the worm composting workshop and wild edibles. I’m thinking of presenting a sustainable energy workshop–using our energy efficiency and renewable energy systems and solar greenhouse/solar shower/wash station complex plans as the laboratory to explore energy concepts and practices for decarbonizing our world. We might host the National Solar Tour here Oct. 5.

What do you want to learn about? What might you present? Contact us with any ideas at (401)710-9784. Details to follow, as always on our Events @ Listening Tree page.

 

 

listening to the land, permaculture

Snow finally comes

IMG_1734
The wetlands emerge!

After a week of actually working in the fields and woods as if it were spring, or fall, or some kind of dry mud season, snow finally came to Listening Tree. Everything is, of course, transformed. The vernal wetlands have appeared, confirming that those some different plant communities did indicate more water, and showing us where we might collect some more water for irrigation. The photo above is the vernal pond that feeds the dug irrigation/swimming/bass pond, while that pond itself is full again, as it was when we arrived in June. We can start to see what a year on this land will look like.

Here’s a panorama that shows that wetland and the year-round pond.

IMG_1735

cooperative ownership, Uncategorized

Vision Statement

Community Vision and Intentions

Inspired in part by a series of open-ended conversations on the subject of ‘community’ hosted by Kerry Bergin, several of us, Karina Lutz, Phil Edmonds, Jim Tull and Kerry decided to take the step to create an intentional community. We started with a vision, roughly captured in this statement, compelled by the ways we see human community, the non-human world, our own psycho-spirituality, the pressures of peak oil and how the ecological, economic, and social crises intersect. We are led by the call to regenerate small-scale communities – to retribalize, in a sense – bringing likeminded people from otherwise different racial, ethnic, religious, economic, sexual, generational and ability profiles and backgrounds to live with and support one another in our material sustenance, personal growth and learning, celebration and grieving. We recognize the challenges of community living under the influence of the dominant culture, with our conditioning to value individualism and privacy, but we also recognize that community living has served our species well for 99% of its years on earth and where it is still in use. To return to community may be difficult for us now, but it is not ‘utopian’, in the sense of being idealistic and impossible. We believe, on the contrary, that commitment to the global, industrial system (dependent on continuous growth, splintering communities, etc.), as a way to meet social and ecological needs, is unrealistic and untenable.

We will participate in community regeneration because:

  1. We want to consciously choose to create a more sustainable way of life;
  2. We miss each other and deserve the happiness of being together with our friends and families;
  3. We need to experiment with self-organizing social systems at this time of energy descent (post-carbon transition), particularly in non-hierarchical ways;
  4. We want to test alternatives to the root cultural causes of ecocide. For example, we want to dissolve the culturally fabricated walls erected between individuals, couples and families, between generations and classes, between humans and non-human nature;
  5. Tribal communities work better for humans as a form of social organization than do mass, hierarchical alternatives;
  6. We can no longer afford to move our bodies and our lives so fast, and desire in any case to slow down. Transition from peak oil to sustainability means both scaling down and slowing down;
  7. And we can take care of each other more easily and naturally if we live together.

Two of us purchased a farm located at 87 Reservoir Rd, Chepachet (RI) in June 2015. In order to balance the need for and efficiencies of community with the need and desire for solitude and privacy, we envision creating small, cabin-like shelters (including retrofitting existing outbuildings) for sleeping and other alone-time activities. We will share one kitchen, and will prepare and serve dinner, at least, in the shared house to all residents on site each evening. The house will also provide shared office/farm work space, other sleeping rooms and a convertible guest room. At this point, we envision a community of 10-15 residents will live on the farm eventually, but the current septic allowance for this property is 6 individuals. Our plans to convert to composting waste treatment we hope will allow for more residents. Other practical, procedural and logistical features we intend to include:

  1. Regular community meetings and conflict prevention and resolution/management processes;
  2. A participatory democratic decision-making process, such as “consensus minus one” whole group decision-making, with ‘sense of the group’ practices leading up to final decisions;
  3. Simple living, energy conservation and material cycling (e.g., compost toilets, rain capture and greywater reuse, passive solar and super-insulated (e.g. Passivhaus) buildings and renewable energy systems);
  4. Growing food for the community (and others when possible), using sustainable farming, hunting and gathering, such as permaculture and wildcrafting practices; and possibly a market-farm partner on-site.
  5. New resident screening process and trial period;
  6. Opportunities for agreed-upon community mind/body/spirit practice and also an acceptance of a variety of individual practices (yoga, meditation, prayer, etc.) or none;
  7. Sharing responsibilities and work of the homestead, allowing for the particular skills members bring to the community as well as sharing basic chores, etc.
  8. Sharing many things, such as meals, cars, appliances, kitchen, laundry, bathrooms, etc., to conserve resources and make community living more affordable than single-family housing. However, this is not an income-sharing community, i.e. a “commune.” Private ownership of cars and personal effects will be allowed and rules for borrowing established by the owners.
  9. The cooperative as a whole will own and share the common house, barn, appliances, solar power equipment, tractor, many tools, etc. Rules about sharing will be developed through the group decision making process (see 2).
  10. A market farmer or farm family could buy a special share that designates a portion of the arable land for market farming, to be stewarded by the farmer(s) in contract with the housing cooperative. See below for details.

Our community aspires to provide educational service to the state and beyond. We will promote and conduct workshops (Karina and Jim currently facilitate deep ecology – the ‘Work that Reconnects’ – workshops, as an example) and host apprentices who will live with us for a summer or semester to learn community life, food and shelter provision and about local/global transition to sustainable living more generally. We may choose to partner with an existing nonprofit organization to help raise money, recruit apprentices, and provide high school or college credit.

We would like to ensure affordability and equality by setting up ownership as a limited equity co-op. The limited equity co-op is an alternative legal ownership entity which allows people to buy into the property and own shares of the co-op and thereby be given rights to live there and use designated and shared space for living and working. A share grants holders the right to live in and otherwise use the land and structures, but also to transfer this right by selling their share to others at the price of initial purchase (or whatever the market will support if less than the purchase price). Unlike a condo, the co-op community has the right to accept or reject new members when shares are transferred.

Young families could own one share per adult. As children mature, parents could buy them their own shares to have the permanent right to live in the community with their own space. Members could also buy shares for their parents as desired. We would like the community to be intergenerational and balanced.

Non-shareholders might rent from shareholders on a sliding scale determined by the community, and permitted to live with us on a case-by-case basis. Apprentices could be provided free housing and food and be expected to work a specified number of hours each week.

A market farm partner would have a special contract with the community as well as being members of the community through the purchase of their own co-op share(s). The market farm business would be owned independently by the farm family. The contract would provide the security of land tenure to the farmers and would allow the community to choose another farmer if the farm family retires or moves away or otherwise is ready to transfer the farming rights to another farmer. Other land would be designated to be used by community members for the subsistence needs of the resident community.

In further service to our belief that we belong to the land, it does not belong to us, and that houses are primarily for shelter, not investment, the community may also decide to remove its property from the speculative market and conserve it through a land trust and/or selling development rights to the state. Such an arrangement would also serve to preserve the land and the farmer partners’ land tenure. Portions of the property may be designated for farming, open space, or residential uses.

Karina and Jim are purchasing the property and will hold title until the co-op is created, at which point they will begin to sell off shares (raising funds for property improvements, tools, etc. and payback loans). Our intention is to transfer private ownership to the limited equity cooperative once the sale is complete, the co-op structure formed, and members are ready to buy in.

This statement of intent and vision is a start, a stepping off point for further evolution and revision. We look forward to the new ideas and refinements new community members and experience will bring to the process!

local food & food justice, organic farm

Land (and community) seeks farmer or farm family

An intentional community in formation is looking for a compatible organic vegetable/livestock farmer to work approximately 4 acres of field located at 87 Reservoir Rd. in Chepachet, RI. The community is seeking members and in process of forming a housing co-operative. Co-op shares, for living and/or farming, will begin to be sold upon launch of the co-op, estimated to be in November. Early birds are welcome to help in the co-operative design.

Both living and farming space are currently for rent with the potential to purchase a residential and/or farming share in the cooperative after a trial period. The market farm trial period would be one year, with land tenure upon cooperative acceptance and share purchase. Right to farm the land would be for a designated portion of the currently arable land.

At least 6 acres of the 32-acre property had been cleared, plowed and planted with Christmas trees and pumpkins by the previous owner of 30 years. Some Christmas trees remain and we hope to sell those this winter, and cut or move most of the remainder, leaving some for permaculture guilds or shade groves and wind breaks, as appropriate. About 3-4 acres of the 6 acres had been farmed before 1980 as a berry and vegetable farm. The arable land has been previously plowed and mowed, and most large rocks have been removed. Soil test data from UMass from three sites is available and shows good soil. The garden that we put in this summer is flourishing.

A large irrigation pond has a working pump in a pumphouse and underground plumbing to three sites including the barn. It still has plenty of clear water as of August 13 this year.

Composted horse manure is on the land; adjacent farm is a source of more horse manure. Deer fencing is needed.

This is our first year of conversion to organic farming. Beyond the market farm, the coop members hope to develop permaculture perennial and forest gardens, large scale vermiculture, small animals.

Our estimate of housing share prices are currently $40,000 per adult. Farm share would be additional and is negotiable. In addition to the share purchase, coop members would pay a monthly fee (like a condo fee) for insurance, taxes, utilities, and short-term and long-term maintenance.

Rent-to-own scenarios, e.g. financing of share purchase, are also possible and currently in process of development.

Farm share would include right to farm the allotted land, right to use the tractor, barn, and some shared tools, build or retrofit needed outbuildings.

Email Karina Lutz at karinalutz@hotmail.com or call 401-497-5968 to arrange a meeting.

Community life

ProJo article: “Nascent R.I. cooperative community strives for ‘intentional living'”

You may have read about us here:

Nascent R.I. cooperative community strives for ‘intentional living’ in Chepachet.

and want more information or to connect, so we made this makeshift website. We weren’t looking for the publicity yet–as the headline says–we too were waiting to see “if it works”–but here we are, and we do want to connect with people who are inspired by our vision.

You can contact us by calling 401-710-9784.

Or come to one of our Friday night potlucks, just please call first.