Monday, December 31, 2018

Happy Holidays from all of me at Mil Abrazos!





What a year it’s been!  Last December, I moved to Dilia, 1.5hr from Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the Mil Abrazos Community Land Trust purchased 32-acres of ancient agricultural land along the Pecos River.

The mission of the Trust, a nonprofit operating under the fiscal sponsorship of the New Mexico Community Foundation, includes affordable housing, agriculture and other cottage industries, permaculture education and land restoration.

Located south of Las Vegas on the lower Pecos watershed, the area has deeply captured my soul. The landscape, nourished by an Acequia tradition dating back to 1820, is a place of great beauty, serenity and abundance of wild life.

I hit the ground running as soon as we took possession of the property, and while sleeping in my truck through most of the winter, proceeded to develop the basic camp infrastructure for the incubation, design and creation of a new agrarian settlement for the benefit of future generations.

Way before I arrived here, I knew that in order to begin a design process with the broader community, I had to build enough infrastructure to comfortably accommodate the people and organizations with whom I have interacted with during my time in Santa Fe and elsewhere. 


Much has been accomplished in a year to prepare the place for visitors and group activities next spring:

  • A 400 sq ft caretaker’s cabin was completely remodeled
  • A full bathroom and laundry room was built
  • A bunkhouse with 4 beds was created for visitors and interns
  • 450 tree seedlings were planted and irrigation installed for the trees
  • The bridge over the acequia was rebuilt to accommodate large trucks
  • The electrical wiring has been upgraded
  • Fiber optic Internet has been brought to the property
  • Property was registered with the USDA Farm Bureau
  • 32 acre-feet of water rights were legally documented with the Office of the State Engineer
  • A 640 sq ft shop was set up for carpentry, welding, craft and repairs of all kinds
  • A 2,000 square-feet steel structure addition, which will accommodate a handicap bathroom, mudroom, camp kitchen and dining hall for 30 people, is currently being erected

Check here for a detailed picture report of our 2018 infrastructure accomplishments





I can say that time has gone fast and has also been very healing for me. 

There’s something profound about living and working alone on a quiet piece of land, dreaming and building a stage for the emergence of a new community. Being pregnant in a way, listening deeply, creating a nest, preparing to give birth. 

When you are here, there’s nowhere to go. For an entire year I was able to work 4-5 days a week at the property, undistracted and uninterrupted.  My home life being yoga, reading, writing, eating well and baking cookies for my friends. My social life consisting of going to mass on Sunday to meet my neighbors, and participating in the governance and maintenance of our complex 12-mile long communal irrigation system. 

While being here, I’ve been reflecting on how to respectfully and beneficially integrate a small multi-family settlement, with various associated cottage industries, within an old land grant that’s exquisitely quiet and slow, a fertile and well-irrigated traditional bread basket that ought to be preserved and revitalized.




 

I purposefully chose to begin the project by myself for that and many other reasons, including wishing to do a year-long permaculture observation of the land, trees, patterns, wildlife, plants, weather, people and local customs.

Mesmerized all day by the dance of the many birds calling this watershed their home or wintering ground, bathed in the freshest air and unpolluted skies, surrounded by pastures interspaced with large deciduous trees, ponds and all the beautiful biota that lives by the water, something else has been unfolding.

My mind seems to have accelerated its pace of decolonization.  As if a new way of thinking, feeling and looking at things has slowly but noticeably been emerging.  As if the mysterious strands of our DNA contain the useful wisdom of the past, becoming accessible to us when the times call for it.

It seems to me as though the times are now calling!  And my heart tells me that it’s from that mind that I wish to create, and co-create from.

 




What I have begun is setting the stage for the development of a small human settlement that will be designed around principles of land trust, where land is held in the commons and cannot be speculated on. I have been thinking long term, for the benefit of future generations.

My heart is into creating spaces where we learn and share skills, and develop resilience for what could possibly be a chaotic and difficult future.  Some of these skills will be old technologies of decision-making that many people sense we must bring back into our governing structures if we are going to survive, as well as skills of self-care, communication, parenting, healing, eldercare, cooperation, resource sharing, homeschooling, food production and more.

Being well aware of climate change upheavals, and of the fragility of our food system, I envision an agrarian project that also actively participates in the preservation and restoration of farmland for regenerative food production.  A community with its resources and programs engaged in supporting the economic revitalization of a neighboring 3,000-acre traditional bread basket with a rich and colorful farming and ranching tradition, while also assuring that the 200 year-old irrigation infrastructure is well maintained for the optimum flow and distribution of water.






Having experienced community living and land trust environments, I have learned that going slow is paramount.  Moving a bunch of people on a property and hoping that things will work has shown to often be unsustainable, unstable or even quite dysfunctional!

I am also painfully aware of the “founder’s syndrome” and do not wish to create a project that solely relies on my energy and ideas to function. So beyond initiating the project, raising the initial capital, loaning all the money I have to bootstrap the birthing phase, and doing 95% of the construction by myself in building the initial camp, it is my intention to have the next steps of this adventure be designed, financed and built with and by the larger community.

My 4-year experiment with Gaia Gardens, has put me in touch with a broad network of people and organizations, all working towards the creation of a better world. Many of them, and lots of new ones, will be invited to contribute to various aspects of the design process.

I want to take this opportunity to thank all the people who supported Gaia Gardens and helped launch the Mil Abrazos Community Land Trust project.

The owner of the Gaia Gardens property, wwoofers and volunteers, our neighbors at Los Chamisos, the Will Atkinson Estate, EarthCare, the New Mexico Community Foundation, the Santa Fe Community Foundation, the McCune Foundation, our CSA members and customers at the Farmers’ Market, LaMontanita Coop, The Food Depot, Monte del Sol Charter School, Payne’s Nursery, Santa Fe Greenhouses, Aromaland, all the people who generously donated to our "Let's buy the Farm" Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, the many seed companies that donated organic seeds, and all the strangers who visited our politically controversial farm stand, and became friends and supporters.




 
As much as many of us dream of living in the country, raising and homeschooling children in a farm setting, making a livelihood through a successful cottage industry or cooperative, or aging in a village setting where elders are loved, useful and respected, there are not that many communities out there doing that. 

If it were easy, there would be many happy, thriving intentional rural communities…

For me, creating rural community must be coordinated and designed to also serve other functions like preserving farmland from
real estate speculation and development, and destructive monoculture. Our new agrarian settlements ought to be sanctuaries for people and wildlife, learning centers, and dynamic nodes in the evolution of culture.

In addition, our project will help give land access to aspiring farmers who otherwise couldn’t afford property, as farmland prices are exorbitant and it is no longer feasible to repay a mortgage from the revenues of a small farm. 

I am currently writing a grant ($25,000) to help pay for a comprehensive Permaculture Master Plan process that will draw upon the rich pool of talents in our region and beyond, on all the topics that ought to be weaved in the creation of a community farm school sanctuary-type.  This process will begin as soon as the dining hall and camp kitchen are ready.  Elders, Farmers, Builders and Engineers, Herbalists and Healers, Parents, Artists and Musicians, Activists, Permaculturists and all the organizations dealing with youth, recovery, poverty, food justice and economic development in rural Northern New Mexico will be invited to participate in the design process.

My intention is to proceed in a deliberate and wise way to define a vision and master plan, engaging a broad community to help design, finance and build a creative outpost for learning in nature and in community.

My hunch, and hope, is that a qualified group of potential residents will emerge from the many sessions of the design process and other group activities at the property.

It could be a couple years, while a vision is clarified and governing documents put in place, before residents settle here.  I’m currently the caretaker of the property and the project manager.  The process of designing the community will reveal whether it’s appropriate for me to be part of the community, or if my calling takes me elsewhere. 




 
What’s most important for me right now is to secure and restore traditional farmland, and plant the seed for a small sustainable agrarian settlement to take root, for the benefit of future generations.

I have been inspired to weave eldercare in the vision of the project, all the way to a dying house by the river.  Embedded in the governing agreements of the community will be clauses to address the caring of elders by the community and residents rights to finish their life on the land if they choose to.  There is support from hospice care organizations in our network to help us with this essential topic.

A friend of mine, who died a couple years ago, left behind a bunch of useful earth-moving equipment (Bobcat with many attachments, trucks, trailers) that we are looking at purchasing from his wife and create a land restoration collective run by women, an idea that I have pitched to several organizations in Santa Fe that have shown interest in supporting such a project, which could become one of our cottage industries.
 




Now here comes the fun money part…

The launch of this project was partially financed by the $38,000 we raised in 2015 through an Indiegogo campaign, while running Gaia Gardens.

I personally loaned $30,000 to the project to help secure the property, which is owner-financed.  The nonprofit still owes $120,000 on the land.

I also loaned the non-profit another $50,000 to finance the first 18 months of loan payments ($800/month), utilities ($130/month), property and non-profit insurance ($2,000/year) and material and hired labor to build the first layer of infrastructure. 


The latest push to build the 2,000sq’ steel addition, wrapped around the existing shipping containers, is costing a lot more money than anticipated as I have hired a team of experienced welders, and metal isn’t cheap.  A lot of structural metal having been donated to the project, and the existing structure being steel, it made sense to invest in building the addition with metal to withstand the potential destructive force of climate change. 

The money I had saved, and knew I would loan to the project to bootstrap its coming into existence, has been well used.  I have built houses, created homesteads and farms before, and know all aspects of construction. I have learned how to efficiently build, source and stage material, get things donated, find stuff and make things out of nothing.  





I am very pleased with all that has been accomplished.
 

And...the money that has birthed and propelled this project forward will soon run out.

I knew I would eventually have to remove my hardhat and start raising capital. Well, this time has come a little sooner than expected…

I have begun contacting some of our largest donors from our 2015 capital campaign, soliciting year-end donations.

I am now reaching out to our larger network here to ask for your support and generosity.

Things we need:

  • Money
  • Building Material 
  • Legal Counsel
  • Grant writing
  • Fundraising
  • Bookkeeping
  • Land restoration expertise related to flood irrigation
  • Hemp production expertise (it is now legal in New Mexico)
  
See our wish list for more details

I look forward to welcoming many of you soon for some good food, stargazing, bird watching, playing by the river, building mud huts and composting toilets, tending animals, gardens and fields, and mingling with an interesting and diverse group of people.

Like all the creation I have been part of, for me they are simply environments to help mix ideas, people, styles, practices, talents, visions and resources.

Helping to create a feeling of community.  A sense of belonging.  A place to be oneself, heal and feel useful, supported and appreciated. 

Thank you again for your support, ideas, inspiration, encouragements and love!

And Happy New Year to all of you,


Poki


Check the Photo Gallery for a visual tour of our first year on the land


x
Please,

http://milabrazoscommunitylandtrust.blogspot.com/p/donate.html
Mil Abrazos Community Land Trust is a non-profit project fiscally-sponsored by the
New Mexico Community Foundation, a 501(c)3
Donations are tax-deductible

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Acequia Cleanup days


Sat. Feb. 24
Sat. March 3

@ 8:00am

In Dilia, NM  (1.5 hr from Santa Fe)


An opportunity to immerse ourselves in the ancient New Mexico Acequia culture, meet our neighbors and support a 200 year-old tradition.
Each year, irrigation ditches get shutdown for cleanup.  

Trees, willows, boulders and sand/silt get removed from the ditch. Flumes, gates, spillways and bridges get repaired at this time.
Guadalupe County workers will be helping with a backhoe and the parsiantes (farmers and ranchers using the ditch) show up for the annual cleanup.
Come with family and bring clothes to get dirty, rubber boots, shovel, handsaw or chainsaw if you have, and gloves if you plan to join the work crew.




As you may know, the Mil Abrazos Community Land Trust, which sprung out of the Gaia Gardens experiment, has purchased farmland in Dilia, an hour and a half from Santa Fe. The property is located in the Anton Chico Land Grant, dating back to 1822. The Vado de Jaun Paiz acequia, built by hand in the 1800’s, is 13 miles long and serves 1,800 acres of irrigated land in the Anton Chico Land Grant.
It has been a yearly tradition throughout New Mexico for farming communities to clean and repair their acequias before the farming season.
The Anton Chico Land Grant population is aging and from what I have been told, fewer than half the parciantes (one who shares the water) show up on acequia cleanup days, even though everyone who draws water from the acequia is obligated to participate, or send someone to help (that helper is called a peon!).




You are all invited to come help or witness the cleanup.
Please RSVP if you plan to attend (I will be sending directions to those coming). Limited indoor accommodations and camping available for those wishing to spend the night at the property Friday night.

I look forward to meeting more of my neighbors and introducing you to this beautiful area.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Property has been acquired by the Mil Abrazos Community Land Trust

https://vimeo.com/237255325


Dear Community,

It is with great joy and gratitude that I am announcing that the Mil Abrazos Community Land Trust (birthed out of the Gaia Gardens project in Santa Fe) just acquired a 32 acres property in Dilia, NM, along the Pecos River, 30 minutes south of Las Vegas off Hwy 84 and 1.5 hr. from Santa Fe.

The property is located in a Land Grant dating back from 1822 with a rich tradition of agriculture and ranching. The land is a typical strip of irrigated rural New Mexico farmland with 20-acre feet of Acequia water rights. The property has been heavily hayed and grazed over the years and land restoration will need to be practiced to help fuel a dynamic soil regeneration process.

After looking for land for two years and traveling thousands of miles, New Mexico called me back and my return has been a real love fest.

I knew we touched a lot of people’s hearts and imagination when we were running Gaia Gardens, but I never grasped the depth of hopes and dreams that were shattered when we closed the farm.

I can tell you now that it was all perfect. That it was time for me and Dominique to get out of the line of fire from our angry neighbor and a sluggish-to-evolve City administration.

We have now affirmed that we are removing this little slice of Paradise out of the speculative real estate market in perpetuity (the purpose of a land trust), in order to develop a resilient and regenerative agriculture, along with permanently affordable housing and other cottage industries, and a Permaculture education center.

I am proud to say that this is the boldest act of civil disobedience I have ever committed besides growing food inside the City of Santa Fe!

Our first step is to meet the local culture and integrate respectfully in the community.

Elders in rural New Mexico speak of a need for healing. How do we design this project to help re-weave the fabric of rural community, acknowledging a painful past of land grabs, poor land management and other violations that often created fractured communities, economic decline and social issues resulting in a progressive abandonment of ancient subsistence agriculture traditions? How do we design our project to help bring back younger people to care for elders and land? How do we weave ancient agriculture practices with Permaculture technologies and strategies to withstand the challenges of climate change? 

New Mexico has rich agricultural traditions that have sustained its population for hundreds of years. The irrigated areas along our major New Mexico watersheds could and should be revitalized to provide a large portion of the fresh produce, vegetables, grains, meats, eggs and medicinal herbs for our region.

As a nonprofit, we will be partnering with other organizations that work with regenerative farming, watershed restoration, rural poverty, food justice, summer camps, hospice care and more, and will be designing the farm to offer an inspiring and pristine place for their retreats and activities.

This winter will be spent observing the land and its patterns, remodeling the existing structure to create lodging for interns and visitors, and repairing the neglected flood irrigation system.

By early spring, we will begin a series of gatherings to start the process of creating a master plan for the property. 

I will be at the property part-time and am happy to welcome visitors. The watershed is stunning, the bird life abundant and the night skies a treat. Feel free to reach me by email if you wish to visit. Limited overnight accommodations are available.

Thank you for all your donations and support that have contributed to acquiring this beautiful piece of land.

We look forward to sharing our unfolding story with you.

Poki



PLEASE DONATE!
 
For our general fund: By credit card via the New Mexico Community Foundation website (https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/1441157…)


Towards the repayment of the loan:
Mail check to: Mil Abrazos Community Land Trust
C/o NMCF
135 W Palace Ave #301
Santa Fe, NM 87501

Your donations are tax-deductible

See our WISH LIST (items and skills)


Friday, September 22, 2017

Back in New Mexico. Still looking for Land

A year ago, after not finding a suitable property for the land trust, I decided to move to Colorado in the hope of finding land to fulfill the mission of the Mil Abrazos Community Land Trust (MACLT).
 

In May of 2016, I posted an announcement on this blog about a promising property in Paonia, where I moved to last November. That post has since been deleted (as to not create confusion) because my assessment of that property, and the town’s culture and politics, prompted me to return to New Mexico to continue my land search.

On my first foray in New Mexico looking for land, I stumbled upon White Oaks, a ghost town from the 1890’s (population 20), located 12 miles NE of Carrizozo (population 1,000) and 40 miles from Ruidoso (population 10,000). The town is at the feet of the Jicarilla Mountains at 6,200 feet of elevation, adjacent to the million-acre Lincoln National Forest. It is located in SE New Mexico, 2 hours from Albuquerque and 3 hours from Santa Fe.



White Oaks

I originally went to White Oaks to look at a 40-acre parcel that unfortunately sold 6 days before I got there.  I have now visited White Oaks six times since June 2017, meeting more of the town’s folks each time.  Each visit to White Oaks has been inspiring and nourishing.  I find its residents authentic, intelligent, open-minded, quirky, sweet and fun.  Although it is far from the city, I think both the town and its surroundings make an attractive destination for people in search of unusual, quiet and restful.  The drive on U.S. Routes 285 and 54 is easy and beautiful.  

I have been in conversation with 4 long-term residents of White Oaks about MACLT:

Jaimee has lived in White Oaks for 15 years.  She owns 20 acres and runs a small tree nursery that specializes in desert-adapted fruit trees.  She also trains horses, and was a competitive rider in her younger days.

Anne has lived in White Oaks for 16 years and is the real estate agent for the area.  She has 3 donkeys with French names and lives in an 1892 Victorian house that she occasionally rents out for movie productions.  

Karen is a psychologist working for the State of New Mexico who specializes in autistic children.  She owns the only remaining sandstone building in town (called the Brown building from the original owner’s name), as well as two larger parcels (35 and 27 acres) adjacent to town.  She has 8 acre-feet of irrigation water rights attached to one of her wells.  Karen offered part of one of her parcels (7 acres) but it is too steep for development.

Don is a fourth generation resident (his grandma left him a one-acre lot in town), and a genius-of-all-mechanical-trades.  He has experience in Earthship and adobe construction.  He has a well-organized boneyard full of construction material, welding equipment, sawmill, backhoe, and dump truck (all the tools a homesteader dreams of!), and is excited about teaching practical skills to young people.


School House


The presentations that I have made about MACLT in White Oaks were well received.  I have felt very welcome, as well as appreciated for who I am and what I propose to bring to the town.

White Oaks could benefit from an influx of younger folks, the establishment of a small farm, and over time -the creation of small cottage industries. The town has only one sandstone building still standing, a brick schoolhouse that is on the historical registry, two Victorian houses, a fire station, a bar open on the weekend, and remnants from mine operations, as well as a few houses and old mining shacks.  There is good ground water and some natural springs in the hills.  Karen  is exploring the possibility of buying or leasing  land to build a tiny house park.  A café is also in the long-term plans, and Karen and Don have already purchased the needed restaurant equipment.  The intellectual, artistic and skills capital are all present for the rejuvenation of a tiny town, and its residents seem excited and ready for some new blood (Don said: “bring it on!”).

Anne's House

There are only a few properties currently for sale in White Oaks, none of them suited to the needs of MACLT development.  The town is still legally platted with tiny lots from the mining days, which are not buildable as they are too small for a well permit or septic system.  I am now visiting White Oaks every Wednesday and Thursday to meet more of the town’s resident and see if one of them would be willing to sell some of their land. Because the population is aging, the prospect of a caring house on the MACLT property may appeal to town residents who would like to finish their days in White Oaks.  

During my visit last week, I met some new folks:  

An elderly couple has 20 acres at the entrance of town.  He used to work for LANL and she is a great gardener.

An elderly woman with 80 acres at the edge of town.  She has horses and is a writer. She showed me her pistol grip shotgun that she welcomes hunters with when they trespass on her property (she must be 70 and barely 5’)

A biologist, his partner and their 6 year-old daughter, who are  interested in putting their property in conservation in a few years.

Ivy is a successful potter who lives a few miles up in the hills above town.

If a property manifests in White Oaks or elsewhere in New Mexico, my plan is to first build a rustic but comfortable camp (platforms with army-type tents, composting toilets, outdoor kitchen and showers) and start welcoming individuals and groups interested in helping design the permaculture master plan for the property.

Some of these individuals may be interested in becoming resident members of the land trust, interns wanting to learn all aspects of homesteading in the hi-desert, young farmers looking for a place to farm and raise a family, organizations in NM interested in using the land trust for educational retreats, or individuals simply interested in being connected to a rural farm community that they can visit and enjoy.


The Brown Building

Even though my focus is on White Oaks for the moment, I am also keeping my eyes on other areas closer to Santa Fe.  Should you be aware of any property suited for MACLT, please feel free to contact me here.

MACLT could purchase a property and keep its former owner(s) on the property (they maintain ownership of their house).  Easements could be created on the property to add benefits to the seller in the form of tax credits.  For more details please see here.

And finally… the New Mexico Community Foundation, our fiscal-sponsor who has held the funds ($38,000) that we raised for MACLT in 2014-15, has notified us that we have to use the funds by the end of the year or risk losing them (they would be distributed to other nonprofit projects with a similar goal).

It has been a long journey since Gaia Gardens closed in 2015.  I have driven 50,000 miles since then, crisscrossing the country during the elections, attending permaculture gatherings, lending a hand at Standing Rock, and looking for property in New Mexico and Colorado. I even spent a week in Utah looking for land as I have good permaculture friends in Salt Lake.

Lots has happened on the world stage and consequently I am more inspired and committed than ever to experimenting with the creation of sustainable rural community focused on permaculture education, affordable housing, food production, and life skills sharing.

More than ever, my heart looks forward to creating an oasis in the desert and welcoming people from all walks of life to experience sanity, beauty, community, in a setting that’s multi-generational, inspiring, accessible and fun.

I look forward to hearing from anyone with ideas, resources or just a little hello.

To be continued….

Poki

Monday, December 26, 2016

Goodbye Santa Fe


I wish to begin with a Big Thank You to all the people who contributed to making Gaia Gardens, and my initiation as a farmer, one intensely profound experience.  

First and foremost, my co-conspirator and dearest friend Dominique, who makes beauty of whatever she touches and helped hold a loving space for all the people who came to the farm. 

To the volunteers who made us feel like a family and fed the holy fire of community. 

To all the sweet people at the Farmers’ Market, who cheered us on all along, whether they were our customers or not. 

To all the farmers I befriended and fell in love with. 

To all the organizations and sponsors who understood our worthy and noble cause. 

To my cat, who constantly made me laugh and reminded me to always stay somewhat feral. 

To the teacher who inspired me to look at soil as what a farmer really grows. 

To our neighbor, who through her determination to destroy the farm, helped make us popular and successful.

To all the city officials and food justice activists who helped bring more food security awareness to the community.

To the Gaia Gardens property owner, who offered his land for farming so generously and stood by us all along. 

To the local Press who did mostly a very good job at covering the issues and standing up for what’s right. 

To all the attorneys who helped us fend off an administration and neighbor bent on keeping the farm from operating.

To all the residents of the Los Chamisos Homeowners Association, our direct neighbors, who saw the farm as an asset to the neighborhood and showered us with kindness.

And finally to all the seed growers and seed keepers without whom this would not be written.  

Many people expressed their sadness at the farm closing and my relocating to Colorado.  Of course it is sad when a beautiful community hub like Gaia Gardens disappears.  Many of us understand how beneficial a vibrant and welcoming farm can be to a neighborhood.  Of course it is sad to have so many people are deprived of the opportunity to stop by the farm and dip into a dynamic oasis of fertility and human interactions.

It is sad for me to no longer be able to hold a place for community to gather.  For me the farm was way more than growing food. Just like a Café is more than just about coffee.  These places always serve an essential function in the building of community.  People need to interact socially for some fundamental soul nourishment.  On a farm, people also get to interact with a vibrant and self-reflective ecosystem.  Together with the farm, we learn.  How to grow food.  How to grow as people.  How to grow as community.

I am personally pleased with the amount of human relationships we helped weave.  Through our community potlucks, open-house policy, volunteer time and at the Farmers’ Market.  For me it is probably the most important measure of our success.  We made friends and felt very loved.

It is my hope that what we accomplished, with community cooperation and very little resources, will inspire others with vision and passion to keep re-greening the city with a tapestry of “farm-gardens”, where people trade their crops or buy from their neighbors.  Where paths connect gardens so children can play and the wildlife has a home in the city.

Over the course of four years of farming near an arroyo, I experienced a connection and communication with birds that I wish every child on Earth to have.  Birds seem to know who the farmer is, the one who cultivates plants and supports the birth of seeds, season after season.  They see you everyday in the garden.  They always hide in the bush near where you pee in the morning, and seem to chirp you up for a good day. They come for food and water but stay around the farm-their home.  

After we closed the farm, Dominique and I committed to planting the next season for the wildlife.  And we did.  And that makes me very happy to have made so many friends with so many birds.

The difficulties we encountered from a neighbor’s opposition and a less than enlightened City administration dramatically increased my workload and stress level.  Farming in itself is difficult enough without having to spend countless hours in meetings with attorneys, and being seriously impaired in our ability to operate freely as an educational center.

When I started Gaia Gardens, I already knew that the property was in foreclosure.  I was willing to take a chance, and attempt to make a positive impact on the City, even if I only had a year to do so.  Circumstances made it so that we were able to farm for four seasons.  The uncertainty about the future of the property was a strong factor in making the decision to close the farm.

But it was not the only reason.  My stress level made me brittle.  I wasn’t operating at my best.  My workload-farming year-round, writing grants, working with school gardens, dealing with a bureaucratic firestorm, helping draft an urban farming ordinance and managing the 7-unit rental property that the farm was located on, was an initiation of tough proportion.  My nervous system and Soul were ready for a break. 

When we began working together, Dominique and I had just met.  She rented a studio on the farm.  She jumped right in while also finishing her Masters degree and working as a Massage Therapist.  The farm workload and stress increased for her as well.  Without her complete devotion to people, plants and animals, the farm would have never been what it was.

As much as the economics of Gaia Gardens were successful by all standards, we also depended on small grants, donations and paid work at school gardens.

For me, it became increasingly difficult to work so hard while making so little money.  I had to be honest with the imbalance in my life.  I was working to nourish people yet felt depleted.

Dominique and I assessed that we had done our best, learned a lot, touched a lot of people, fed an abundance of wildlife and survived our friendship. We both intuitively knew that it was time to wrap it up and move on to new creative endeavors dear to our hearts.

I took a year off, went traveling, promoted a documentary that was made on the farm, got immersed in the Bernie fever, started dancing again, went to Standing Rock and began exploring where I would be drawn and inspired to acquire land for the MilAbrazos Community Land Trust, which was birthed out of the farm momentum.

After six months of looking for land, I have chosen to relocate to Paonia, on the Western Slopes of Colorado.  It is and adorable and creative agricultural community that has welcomed me with a warm heart.  Should your whereabouts take you to this part of the West, feel free to stop by for a visit.

I will miss my friends in Santa Fe and will visit once in a while.  

Thank you again for all the Love and support you gave us!

With immense gratitude,

Poki

Monday, June 27, 2016

Help Restore the Creativity for Peace Memorial Garden




















CALL for VOLUNTEERS

Help Restore the Creativity for Peace Memorial Garden


WORK PARTY: Saturday, July 2, 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. at Camp (just before Glorieta)

In 2009, a 15 year-old former camper from Gaza along with two of her sisters and a cousin were killed in the fighting between Israel and Gaza. Later that year, our campers and staff created a memorial garden on our camp land to honor these young women and as a place of contemplation and remembrance for all those affected by war and violence.

As the camp is not occupied year-round, time and nature have left their marks. We now need to infuse care and love back into this garden. We have received a cash donation to help with the project as well as materials donated by local businesses. Now we need a few volunteers to undertake the garden restoration and year-round maintenance.

If you can help with this project, please contact: Kirsten: kirsten@creativityforpeace.com

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Garden Parties have started!

Dominique and I were blessed to share Easter morning in the garden with our dear friend George…he lifted our spirits and renewed our desire to continue hosting volunteer days. 

George had just attended Easter mass at the Cathedral and was all pumped up!  He even had a dream a few days before that he was Pope!

I got my camera to capture a bit of his rapture.



https://vimeo.com/160541673/93c752563b














On Monday, George showed up again, brought a friend with him, and a couple other folks joined us for our volunteer time.








We bundled dried basil stalks from last year as some beekeepers use the stalks in their bee smokers.





 
















We also cleaned up the beds by the farm office and amended them with some pretty lovely compost.

The weather is supposed to warm up so we'll start transplanting next Sunday.

Come join us!


Volunteer Days

Sundays  11:00-1:00pm  
Mondays  3:00-5:00pm