Boise EcoVillage Project

Blog

Celebrating the Community Land Trust

I would like to introduce you to a model and a vision that I am completely aligned with.  I first discovered the Community Land Trust (CLT) while reading an issue of Yes! Magazine about a year ago.  Then, in December of 2015 we had the opportunity to meet Poki Piottin, co-founder of both Gaia Gardens & Mil Abrazos Community Land Trust.

While Poki was visiting Boise we gathered for a community screening of the documentary film about Gaia Gardens, Bringing Food Home.  We learned a lot about the problems facing urban gardens and farms.

Poki had been a member of the Evergreen Land Trust Board of Directors in Washington State from 2000-2003, a model I had found while doing some online research.  A lunch gathering was organized to learn more about the community land trust model from Poki, who at that time was still in the process of forming the Mil Abrazos Community Land Trust.  I’m writing this blog to celebrate the creation of this land trust, filled with inspiration and hope for our future!

Borrowed from http://milabrazoscommunitylandtrust.blogspot.com/p/vision.html with permission.

In nature’s economy, the currency is not money, it is life.   -Vandana Shiva  

Introduction

We live in times of pressing challenges. Global temperatures are rising and biodiversity is decreasing at alarming rates. The way we currently consume resources and exploit others is directly proportional to how we as humans separate ourselves from each other and the larger ecological web of life. In order to achieve the transition to a sustainable society, a radical change in technologies, institutions and worldview is needed.
We believe that true wealth springs from sensitive and skillful relationships between humans and natural resources. With thoughtful and proper planning, human and biotic growth are capable of not only being compatible, but life enhancing in myriad ways. This paradigm shift requires a personal and intimate connection with the environment, as well as a willingness to live and work with the natural rhythms and cycles that form our world.
Our Mission

The Mil Abrazos Community Land Trust’s (MACLT) mission is to create a low-impact intentional community in Northern New Mexico.  This community will provide affordable homeownership for individuals and families wishing to lead a land-based life, while simultaneously contributing to local communities, economies, and eco-systems.  It is our belief that these elements are critical in order for society to shift towards a more plentiful future.

Developing and employing ecologically responsible practices to preserve, protect and enhance the land’s natural attributes is paramount to MACLT’s purpose.  We aim to serve as a model of low impact development that rejuvenates Northern New Mexico’s communities, landscapes and economies.   We plan on becoming a reference point for future sustainable development possibilities in the region.

MACLT recognizes that the well-being of humans is inseparable from the well-being of the earth. The project recognizes the rich history of Hispano, Native, Chicano/a, and Anglo people in Northern New Mexico. In recognizing that our region has a long history of conflict over land and water rights, as well as struggles with rural poverty, we strive to create an environment which does not repeat the violence of the past.

MACLT welcomes people of all backgrounds to our community, and we aim to integrate ourselves respectfully into the local community.

 

The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope.    -Wendell Berry

 

Vision for Community

The MACLT plans to provide a supportive framework for residents to minimize their ecological footprint and maximize their integration within the local community.  Residents will endeavor to substantially meet their needs from the site through agriculture, horticulture, forestry and cottage industries.

The MACLT site will be comprised of mixed fields and woodland, with an intention to create an integrated human settlement designed and run on permaculture principles. The land will be developed to improve the synergy of the different habitats across the site, simultaneously enhancing bio-diversity and leading to an increased and sustainable yield from the land.

The community will strive to create its own electricity from renewable sources. It will supply its water needs through rainwater harvesting and the use of a spring, well or stream. The community will welcome and manage visitors in such a manner as to minimize traffic impact.

The site will be managed to create an accessible educational center, and will feature a variety of self-built eco dwellings, centered around a community hub building and permaculture farm, using best practice design and technology, combined with local natural materials.

The land will be owned by MACLT, whose role it will be to oversee the community’s development and ensure that the founding principles and objectives are maintained.

Community members will adhere to a set of community agreements stipulating the ways in which they participate in community life, infrastructure building and maintenance, and various educational activities mandated by the MACLT mission statement.
Joining the Mil Abrazos Community

Aspiring community members, once their application is accepted, will go through a minimum one-year trial membership, during which their compatibility to live and work within the existing community will be evaluated.  Priority will be given to low-income families with children, people experienced with land-based community living, farmers, as well as young people and elders wishing to access affordable home ownership.

Once accepted in the community, members will have an equal voice in the running of the community and, if available, able to purchase equity in a living dwelling on the community land.  Equity can be purchased in an existing dwelling (stand alone or room(s) in common house) or, if zoning codes allow, permission may be given to member by the community to construct a new dwelling, which size and cost will be determined by the community agreements. Community members purchasing or building a dwelling will be issued a 99-year lease on the land that their dwelling occupies.

A community member choosing to leave the community can only sell his/her equity in a dwelling to an approved member of the community.  A dwelling cannot be sold on the open real estate market or speculated upon.  Its resale price is determined by the “resale” clause in the community agreements.  Residents have some essential benefits of home ownership: lifetime security, a limited fair equity for their investment, and a legacy for their descendants.

Model for Sustainable Practices

The MACLT aims to demonstrate the viability of low impact development as a model that has the potential to rejuvenate the Northern New Mexico landscape and economy while act as a reference point for future sustainable development possibilities in the region.

The project will be carefully monitored to provide evidence of the level of achievement of targets and criteria, as well as to provide a research resource to inform and promote the wider uptake of low impact living.

The project, by virtue of its innovative approach will attract publicity and interest.  MACLT will support visitors within a structure that promotes sustainable travel solutions and balances the needs of visitors with the needs of the residents to maintain a degree of privacy in their lives.

We abuse land because we see it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.     -Aldo Leopold

Two Years Later…

P1090097In January of 2014 I attended the Earth Harmony Sustainability Seminar: “How to Build an EcoVillage” at Avalon Organic Gardens and EcoVillage in Arizona.  This was really the beginning of my ecovillage journey, two years later I’m realizing there and many more miles to go!

Throughout the last two years I have focused on connecting with people throughout the Treasure Valley with the skills and passion for creating a sustainable community and a cooperative culture.  I organized a core council that met each week throughout the summer of 2014 to define the community’s vision, mission and goals.

Cheryl MendiolaIbenjamin-feician 2015, with my guidance and passion, the community secured 3+ acres on which to begin our project through a multi-year lease, two of those acres are irrigated and will allow us to begin to grow food together.  This land is zoned agricultural so the residential piece of our vision will not take place on this land.  We also purchased a yurt, and as a community we constructed it on the property to support our project in Garden City which we call Riverside Gardens.  We operated the produce stand this fall and sold pumpkins to raise money for our project.  We also had an

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

incredible retreat where we camped and rafted the Payette River together.  A committee formed to organize and host a presentation and film at BSU as well as two workshops facilitated by Ma’ikwe Ludwig of Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage.

Now, in 2016 specialized circles will form and leaders in each circle will be elected to serve on the Core Council.   A village-wide planning meeting will take place on January 15th, at 6 p.m. at the yurt at Riverside Gardens (9907 W Chinden Blvd, Garden City, Idaho). stairs-2016

We will host community gatherings each month to celebrate our progress, build connections and friendships, move projects forward, and set new goals. We continue to focus on building relationships, identifying allies, and defining the legal and social structure of the community.

If you would like to participate please come to our upcoming gathering, or please find us on Facebook at the Group “Boise EcoVillage Project,” and request to join.  You may also call me at: two-zero-eight-8four-one-59zero4.

Re-localizing Our Food System by James Reed

Re-localizing our food system has been a passion of mine for many years.

I am currently the owner of Onsen Farm in the Hagerman valley growing food for Idahoans in geothermally heated greenhouses during the winter season. In 2006 I helped found Idaho’s Bounty Cooperative, which at different times of the year represents some 79 farmers, ranchers, dairyman, aquaculturists and processors in Southern Idaho. Idaho’s Bounty is committed to linking local farmers with local consumers. My position as a small farmer and local food activist gives me a unique perspective on the state of local food in southern Idaho.

The agrarian poet Wendell Berry once said, “ if you eat you are involved in farming.” I believe knowing your farmer gives one an important link to the land and eating locally involves one directly in the art of farming. The many benefits of “eating local” are well known. They include: greater food safety and food security, an enhanced local economy, and most importantly better, fresher and more nutritious food.

To eat locally however, one must have farmers selling locally, raising vegetables, grains, legumes, animals and animal feed, fruits and other crops directly consumable by people. With all of the buzz around eating local and sustainable and the amazing farm ground and growing climate in southern Idaho, local farmers still struggle to stay in business and local consumers still purchase only a small portion of their food from local producers. Older farmers are retiring or nearing the age of retirement and access for young farmers is difficult due to the high cost of farm land, equipment and limited educational opportunities for young people to learn the business of sustainable farming. As farmers retire their hard won knowledge and experience retires with them.   As a community we can change this, and we should.

With produce from California increasing in price due to the drought and a greater awareness of the value of fresh nutritious food there is an amazing opportunity for Idaho’s citizens to take responsibility for their food and increase the production of local produce, meat, dairy, eggs and other products. Ken Meter in his study titled “Highlights of greater Treasure Valley Farm and Food economy”, says that if we all spent 15% of the $1.87 billion dollar annual food budget on locally produced products we could see a gain of $165 million dollars to new farm economy. That’s significant as much of this value would go to small family businesses and local farmers. Visit http://www.capitalpress.com/Organic/20150514/organic-farmers-processors-struggle-to-meet-demand, for an update on demand for organics in Idaho.

There are a few simple things we can all do to help:

  • Grow some of your own food so we as a culture begin to remember what it is all about to have beautiful food and a connection to the earth.
  • Buy Local by spending your food dollars at farmers markets, a local CSA, or markets that promote and sell locally produced food.
  • Shop through Idaho’s Bounty co-op. http://www.idahosbounty.coop
  • Develop farmer training schools that teach everything from seed to store, including value adding.  There are great models out there in other states.
  • Invest a portion of your investment dollars in Idaho’s Bounty and other successful local food businesses. Businesses like Idaho’s Bounty and the farmers and consumers that support them have worked for years to support the growth of these businesses but like all start ups, they require investment to grow and prosper.

Finally we need to invest in young farmers that want to farm at whatever scale they choose. This will require everyone, from existing farmers to bankers to investment professionals and consumers to change the way they think about farming, farmland, investment and education. Without this investment we risk a world in which all of our food comes from large, impersonal industrial farms. This is not the world I want for my children. Food is too important. We depend on hard working farmers and we should work to insure they have every opportunity to succeed by supporting local farmers, and business’s, and by buying local food wherever and whenever we can.

James Reed

Onsenfarm.com
208/720-0673

 

Test plot ahoy!

Planting the seeds of a brand new start.
Despite the high wind advisory this fabulous team built a compost bin for organic contributions and picked up some trash ‘n weeds. The test plot was created, furrows dug, and cover crops planted!  All in all a good day with Benjamin Nelson, Dave Keck, Cheryl Mendiola and Orin the Riverside Farm manager (not pictured – but did all the field work).

March-Test-Plot

Cheryl planting the first seeds of the ecovillage!

 

Hosting A Workshop in Boise

I’ve been in communication with Mariyam Medovaya, the Speaking Tour Coordinator for Dancing Rabbit EcoVillage. The executive director of Dancing Rabbit EcoVillage, Ma’ikwe Schaub Ludwig, is doing a tour in 2015 and I have invited her to Boise! There are 5 topics to choose from and we can decide to do a half-day, full-day, or 2-day workshop.  We have yet to confirm, but I’d like to do this soon.  I’ll check in tomorrow night at our social gathering to see how much interest there is in organizing and participating.

About the workshop leader: Ma’ikwe Schaub Ludwig is a pioneering sustainability educator who heads up Ecovillage Education US, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Fellowship for Intentional Community. Her work integrates ecological, economic, social, political and personal approaches and technologies for a strongly holistic view of what real sustainability takes, and we expect the talk to have broad appeal across the disciplines. Ma’ikwe is a regular writer for Communities magazine and is the author of Passion as Big as a Planet: Evolving Eco- Activism in America. Ma’ikwe is a dynamic speaker, and she has been featured on TEDx in 2013 with her talk on sustainability.

A Full Workshop would be 2 days, although shorter versions are available.

Topics include:

Starting a Sustainable Community

Rethinking Sustainability

Social Skills for Cooperative Culture

Guerrilla ConsensusEncountering Climate Change

The dates Mariyam gave me are March 2-3, March 17-18 and May 17-20 for this Spring, other options are possible for the Fall.  I’m thinking that May 17-20 would be good and that would give us some time to organize.

http://www.dancingrabbit.org/speakingtour/

Join the Conversation!

Introducing a new way to be involved with the Boise EcoVillage Project.

We invite you to connect via a new forum we have created on our website. Here are a few simple instructions:

1) Register as a user on our website (it’s free!)

2) Create a Profile.

3) Go to the Forums and post something so that we can get to know you, answer any questions you might have, or be inspired by your ideas! You can introduce yourself, create a topic within a forum that interests you.

Remember this is a new forum so it’s up to the community to create content!  We look forward to talking to you soon.

Our Project Takes Root!

This is the land where we will begin our project in 2015. We have a meeting set with the land owner on January 20th to work out the details and potentially sign our lease! Exciting times! This is on the corner of Chinden and Branstetter St., Garden City, Idaho. Phase 1 will begin with soil remediation, composting, aquaponics/hydroponics, and managing the veggie stand you see on the corner.

Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 6.59.31 PM