Communities in healthy relationships with the living Earth
To bring together the practical wisdom of ritual farming, the diversity of permacultural design, the beauty of artistic creativity and the reclaiming of the commons to inspire and co-create community resiliency, holistic learning, and nature-based dialogue.
Healthy Relationships with the Living Earth/Land
At the core of what we do, this is our guiding vision, to be in a healthy relationship with the living Earth. Without a healthy environment, the land cannot support all the diversity required for the well being of communities, wild and human alike. Many human activities in their current form are destructive processes that are degrading and killing the intricacies of the reciprocal relationships that exist between us and the natural world.
Ritual Farming speaks to the way we interact with the food we grow. We have lost many of the beautiful ways we once connected to food and place as we continue to migrate into cities and larger communities as a result of our industrialized culture. This transition has meant that we have lost the story of the seeds that fed our cultures, and no longer honour those sacred agreements that our ancestors made with the plants and animals that sustained us.
As we continue to create and evolve the plant and animal communities that we tend to here on the farm, we are learning as best we can how to re-member the rich stories and lineage contained within the seeds that have so graciously agreed to work with us.
We are no experts in ritual farming, and learn more with each growing season as we sink deeper into this way of tending to the land. Our inspiration for this practice is deeply rooted in the work of Martin Prechtel. In his book “The Unlikely Peace at Cuchumaquic, The Parallel Lives of People as Plants” he offers us great insight into this way of being in relationship to all the beings that we tend to in order to give us life. It is a manifesto for fostering these unique relationships that all of our ancient ancestors would have practiced. Our goal is to rediscover these different practices so that we may engage in beautiful farming once again.
“Permaculture is a design system for creating sustainable human environments. The word itself is a contraction not only of permanent agriculture but also of permanent culture, as cultures cannot survive for long without a sustainable agricultural base and land use ethic.” Bill Mollison, Introduction to Permaculture.
Since arriving on this land in 2017, our method of systems design has been based on permaculture principles and ethics (philosophy). Our goal is to develop and co-create systems of human environments that are resilient and in a reciprocal relationship with the wild community that surrounds and is part of the human landscape.
We have been working with the land in this way and continue to design, create and test various methods of growing food, raising livestock, and building infrastructure that reflect the philosophy of permaculture. We recognize that this is a hands-on learning practice, and that time will allow for an equilibrium to develop in how all the pieces of these various life-giving systems will eventually evolve and support one another.
When we started this project, we literally started from a place that had no human habitation, we were in the middle of a forest. This has given us the privilege to observe, create, develop and evolve with the landscape and the knowledge that we have gained from this continues to guide us into the future. It has been a slow process that has allowed for course corrections while providing us with larger insights as we view this development through the lens of permaculture. As the systems continue to mature, we are at a critical point of co-creation where the next phase of this permaculture design project will bring together many of the systems that have been in development since 2017.
Our goal is to share our knowledge of permaculture with the larger community and designate this site as a demonstration site for others to contribute, learn, and practice within their own local habitats and communities. This includes things such as:
- Localized food production – growing a diversity of foods and extending growing seasons to allow for seasonal and year round enjoyment of healthy, nutrient dense foods
- Learning how to prepare and cook the diversity of foods available locally
- Localizing other resources that contribute to the overall economy of the farm and the community
Designating the farm as an off-grid permaculture demonstration site removes us from the model of high production farming and places us into the area of creating more biodiversity and economic diversity. The site will act as a testing ground for research and development to inspire individuals and other communities and we will work cooperatively with other homesteaders and farms to diversify towards creating community resilience.
Creativity and artistic expression is a thread that makes us human throughout our diverse cultures. How we create and express beauty is something that we can offer to the world as gifts. This can get lost in today’s world of consumption and profit, where we monetize what we create and produce; items that contribute to a capitalistic economy. Humans have been given a unique gift where we can formulate things with our hands, taking our imaginative minds into places of expression that transform visions and thoughts into masterful creations that feed the soul and the world.
Historically, the commons referred to the way that communities shared and managed land that was held ‘in common’ for the common good of all. This included natural resources such as agricultural fields, grazing lands, waterways, and forests. These resources were known to be extremely precious and of utmost value for the health and welfare of all beings who lived there, including the people, wild and domesticated plants and animals, and the land itself. These commoners used methods of self governance and a shared sense of the common good through relationship building and working together over time to tend to the very place that sustained them.
Due to the elite few believing that agricultural systems needed improving to make them more efficient and profitable, the commons were forcibly enclosed and claimed as private property for private use. This deprived commoners of their ancient right to live with and care for the land that had sustained them and their families for generations. With the loss of these lands, there was also a loss of together-as-one connection to the land, chosen mutual obligation, and ancient ways of celebrating life and honoring the stories of the land. These losses have led us to where we are today; disconnected from the land which sustains us, ourselves, and our communities. We have developed individualistic views of success and are no longer rooted in place, with the health and vitality of the land and all inhabitants as our utmost concern. If we are not engaged and connected to the very place in which we live, we will be unable to cultivate community renewal and our storied connection to the land.
Our vision of this place includes a rediscovery of the commons. Arriving on this land we knew that there was a calling to create community here. We have invited and opened our doors to others for learning, hands-on experience, and a sharing of knowledge that has helped this place grow and evolve, and in the next phase of this journey, we are envisioning how to embrace and incorporate the philosophy of the commons, where we are deeply embedded and indebted to one another. Insuring the legacy of the work that has been started here, one of our major goals for 2022 will be to create a continuance plan for the future of what has been started here. We believe that by forming a non-profit society with the local community we will build the foundation of a plan to support the farm beyond our time. This will create resilience, diversity, and long term viability for the ways we are growing food and building reciprocal relationships with the land. It is also our intention to have the non-profit society help create the educational programs that will be developed as our continued goal to designate Twisted Roots Farm as a working off-grid permaculture demonstration site for others to learn and gain knowledge in all the aspects of land relationships.
The communities that we live in are where our daily lives reside. The expansion of the modern world has eroded the diversity of community, and what defines a community is subject to many factors, especially in the context of how far we can travel or how communities are heavily reliant on external supply chains for their basic needs. In a country as vast as Canada, communities are very different from one another and yet we rely on centralized forms of government to guide our communities. There is a huge disconnect from our community leaders in government to what really matters on a local level, employing cookie cutter approaches as solutions to all communities. The diversity of communities are what constitutes their strengths, and we strongly believe that communities will have to find their own innovative solutions to issues should we have any hope of a healthy future.
As a core of community resiliency, localization is a key attribute in creating strong, vibrant, and healthy communities. Our goal as a small local food producer, and education site are about creating circular economies within our community, thereby engaging others to participate in this economy and be part of exploring the strengths within the localization movement.
Nature-based dialogue speaks to the way we interact and communicate with the more than human world. Our evolution, as with all life forms of this earth, evolved directly with nature. We are not separate from nature, but rather a part of her many life giving systems that contribute to the overall ecological diversity of life on this planet. We must learn to fall in love again with the wild community, and acknowledge that we are not above or wield power over her life-giving systems .
Nature-based dialogue is woven throughout many of the programs and ways that we interact with the land here at Twisted Roots Farm. Being immersed in this environment helps to shift our perspective from the mechanized and industrialized ways of living that we have adopted in our cities and larger communities. Learning to build a fire, sleep in the woods, or walk among ancient elder trees offers new ways of being in relationship with nature. Through this interaction, we become aware of life as animate and alive and that we are truly never alone. We are surrounded by a community of mosses, trees, rocks, rivers, all in relationship with each other, of which we can choose to be in conversation with.
The more we open ourselves up to this process, the more we start to understand that we are in a mutually beneficial relationship with the wild community. We have a place, an ecological niche within the complex array of life that exists on this planet. There are healing elements and opportunities for personal growth and development rooted in this interaction, something humans would have been in far greater relationship with before our collective disconnect from that which gives us life and sustains our communities in healthy ways.
Holistic Learning and Education
Since 2018, we have been welcoming people to the farm for work / education exchanges in the form of volunteerism and more in-depth immersion through farm apprenticeships. Our philosophy of holistic learning is based on the premise that each person finds identity, meaning, and purpose in life through connections to their local community, to the natural world, and to humanitarian values such as compassion and peace. We also view learning not exclusively as an exchange between teacher and student, but rather that we all learn together by finding innovative solutions to situations that require input from all those involved, regardless of perceived role.
Many of the projects that have been developed and created here at Twisted Roots Farm have been completed by volunteers and apprentices within the context of hands-on experiential learning. We view this site as a learning ground where we are open to new ways of doing things, experimentation, and the exploration of creative expression. Our goal is to continue to expand the educational opportunities that exist at this off-grid permaculture demonstration site so that others can take what they learn here and apply it to their own lives. Through holistic learning, we truly believe that change can manifest in unique ways facilitating a different perspective of how we interact with ourselves, each other, and the living earth.