by Margret Muller
Saturday, February 24, 3-6 p.m., Hart’s Nest
Spring is coming fast, and the Land Stewardship Circle (LSC) offered an educational presentation to any and all interested folks for the purpose of clarifying its Mission and Aims, tasks going forward, 2018 priorities, 2017 leaps forward. The gathering was well attended by 17 members and friends: Anthony, Paul, Hope, Jeffry, Margret, Randy, Rita Joe & daughter Mia, Tain, Marilyn, Virginia, Bailey, Sarah, Allie and Jae, and Earth’s Turn Community member, Doug.
Jeffry (Operational Leader of LSC) gave a brief overview of the circle’s Domains, Aims, and Priorities. With the help of Powerpoint and oversized paper copies of our land and farm master plan (created by Bobby Tucker of Bodhi Land and Design), Jeffry explained how Hart’s Mill’s village, roads, forests, pond, farm-able areas, and more are laid out on the land.
There are five Domain subdivisions: forest, pond, farm, infrastructure, and education. This gathering concentrated on the first three. Here is a brief summary–stay tuned for more!
The Pond (report by Virginia)
It is uncertain how old the pond is, but since we know the dam was made in 1962, it is more than 56 years old. Soundings made from a kayak show the deepest areas to be only around 5’, with most of the rest between 3 and 4’. The sides are too sloped and the edges show much erosion, exposed tree roots, and ingress of storm water run-off from Frazier Road. In Virginia’s opinion, major work on pond restoration can certainly wait a few years, but she recommends creating a storm water run-off elimination plan soon, as that water is almost surely polluted.
The Forest (report by Randy)
When Hart’s Mill bought the property from Alana Ennis in January of 2017, an excellent Forest Stewardship Plan was already in place. Created for us by the Eno River Association in 2013, this report spells out in great detail a plan to keep our forest healthy and to meet the requirements of our Present Use Value (PUV) tax assessment. Various discrete land parcels are slated for thinning as they mature, and we are already somewhat behind in addressing the first parcel. Randy stressed the need to develop a timeline and to explore creative ways to meet our PUV requirements. Our land also has many burgeoning exotic invasive species (notably Ailanthus, or Tree of Heaven) which need some attention very soon.
The Farm (report by Jeffry and Margret)
Last year, General Circle consented to a Mission and Aims document for the Farm which allowed us to move forward. So far, about ½ acre is dedicated to vegetable production, and other substantial portions of the land are becoming productive in other ways. Jeffry and Margret, as Seeing Stars Farm (SSF), are currently doing the bulk of the work, paying all expenses, and selling what we grow at a farmer’s market. This benefits both Seeing Stars (financially) and HM (meeting the PUV, beginning soil improvement, establishing a presence on the land, and involving members to fulfill our mission as an agrarian intentional community). This arrangement will be revisited periodically, and eventually it will convert to being an all-Hart’s Mill enterprise.
Last year we had some successes (sweet potatoes, white potatoes, cabbage, onions, bok choy) and some failures (tomatoes, peppers), which was not unexpected for a first crop on new soil. Paul was elected to be a liaison person between SSF and HM to ensure transparency and transmit questions and concerns. In our first year we grossed $1,450.00, which is more than needed to qualify for the agriculture portion of the PUV. Hooray!
This year we are planning to have farm work-days, to be scheduled as needs arise. We will have a list of tasks large and small, for anyone interested in helping out. Stay tuned!
Two acts of generosity will enable to farm to make significant progress this year: 1) Margret and Jeffry are underwriting the dropping of a WELL on the land. This will happen in early March. 2) An Angel Investor has made a substantial financial contribution to be used to further our farming efforts going forward. We are so grateful for and uplifted by this support and encourage other Angel Investors to step forward, as the needs are many.
And the star of the show: The Land
The final portion of the meeting was a walk-and-talk on the land itself. The weather could not have been more cooperative; it was 70, breezy, and sunny. This walk made it possible to point out all the major areas we had addressed—the pond, its dam, tree stands in need of thinning, the general area for village construction, and the current farm activities. Folks had an opportunity to ask questions, some of which we could answer and some of which will need some research. This is the concept of “it takes a village” in action!
We returned to Hart’s Nest feeling nourished and uplifted by the riches of our precious land and devoted community.