Category Archives: Collaborating

Spring Awakening and The “Magic” of Seeds

Springtime delights our senses!  Birdsongs and the sweet scent of soil after rain fill the air.  Colors of white, purple, pink, and yellow canvas forest floors, burst in the trees, and are popping up in flower beds. These magnificent blooms attract hundreds of species of pollinators, creating a joyful buzz of activity.  The warmth of the sun invites us out of our houses, too, alluring us to breathe in the fresh air and participate in the coming of new life. It’s a wondrous way to wake from the dormancy of winter slumber!

One of the best ways to engage in the rebirth of Spring is to sow seeds.  In this recent Tower Power blog post, To Sow or Not To Sow, I outline the benefits and drawbacks of direct seeding or transplanting.  Either way, whether you start seeds in trays or sow directly into the ground, planting seeds places you at the intersection of death and new life.  For within a seed lies the story of the previous plant’s life (native homeland, genetic blueprint, preferred growing conditions) paired with the stored nutrition to support the coming of the next generation.

SeedsinHandsWith seeds in our hands and commitment to nurture life’s
regenerative power, it is not difficult to sense the magnitude of creation and our responsibility to take part. Your act of putting seeds into soil and tending them to life is a promise and gift for the future.


Oakwood Community Vision Meeting

Thanks to the eighteen visionaries who participated in Oakwood Center’s community meeting last weekend! Saturday afternoon began with conversations during a gallery walk as participants viewed Ball State landscape architecture student design proposals. A delicious lunch, created by Jessica Burns of Barn Brasserie, was enjoyed while folks continued to mingle and discuss Oakwood’s strengths, opportunities, aspirations, and desired future achievements. Focused visions took shape as the group divided into three teams and were prompted to design the cover of a magazine, featuring, you guessed it…Oakwood!


 A team of Oakwood visionaries in attendance on Nov. 2, 2014.

It would be impossible to recapture the inspiration that soared that afternoon or the fun the groups had creating, but here are a few of the great ideas generated during the rebranding project.

Cover Story Ideas

Living Fully in the Season: Embracing its inconveniences

Oakwood Arts & Ecology Center: Best of all possible worlds

Intergenerational Nature Immersion: Local center opens its heart to the larger community

Featured Articles

Maker Village: It takes a village of doers

Farm to Table: A case study

Workshop: Solar and wind for everyone

Open House: 1914 barn art studio restoration complete!

Retreat Diaries: Confessions of true transformation

Gardens: Sacred space

Other fantastic ideas for the mock-up publication included a tree of the season centerfold, commentary on Oakwood’s community education academies, and great quotes that could be found inside the issue…”Best conference center in the Midwest!” “Where boundaries slip away…” “I built a fire and used a knife at survival skills camp!” and “We love Maker Village! We came home with freshly churned butter and a ukulele.”

It was a wonderful day building community as we celebrated what Oakwood has been and what it is becoming. The unfolding will continue as our ideas become reality and the community expands by collaborative leadership. Spread the word and get involved! The next gathering will be November 16th. We will be reviewing themes from the visioning workshop and discuss ideas for crowdfunding. New participants welcome. Stay on the lookout for details about our next gathering!


You can join the Oakwood Center group page on Facebook at

Permaculture Course Inspires Transformation of Community

Amy Rhodes, Owner/Director of Land-Based Education & Agritour Design (LBEAD), is one of 14 students who completed a two-week Permaculture Design Course, offered in July at Weber Retreat and Conference Center in Adrian, Michigan.

Amy hopes to use the knowledge, experience, and human relationships acquired through the course to broaden services   offered by LBEAD. Reflecting on the experience, she stated, “The course inspired me to look deeper into site analysis and improve ways of bringing invisible structures, such as power relationships and social contracts, into the conversation of place through physical and educational designs. Adding the tools required of a permaculture design consultant, I feel more equipped at reading and listening to landscapes designed by Nature. I now have a clearer vision for integrating interpretive, non-formal education programs with holistic self-reliant, skill-building activities for community members of all ages.”

The course was directed by Peter Bane, author of Permaculture Handbook and Garden Farming for Town and Country, and the editor of Permaculture Activist magazine. Peter and the faculty are specialists in permaculture, a contraction of “permanent agriculture” or “permanent culture”. Permaculture focuses on designing ecological human habitats and food production systems. Permaculture is a land use and community building movement which strives for the harmonious integration of human dwellings, microclimate, annual and perennial plants, animals, soils, and water into stable, productive communities.

“The students had time to learn and then apply permaculture values and design principles on a specific site,” the Adrian Dominican Sisters Motherhouse campus, explained Sister Carol Coston, OP, in the Permaculture Office for the Adrian Dominican Congregation, which hosted the course.  Rhodes remarked, “This experience really pushed me to ask, ‘What are the lessons to be learned about this place? What relationships exist here, human and non-human,  and how can they be celebrated?”

Sister Carol said the students learned to consider such factors as the “ecological and social context of the major building elements of the campus, emergence of the water system, the shaping of the land into major subdivisions, the movement and use of water and winds through the system and its effects, solar influences and outdoor living spaces, the food handling and campus recycling, major and minor opportunities for cultivation, current and possible harvesting from the environment.”

The three overall values of permaculture work are Earth Care, People Care, Fair Share. These factors can also be considered in the design of permaculture for your home, farm, and/or educational site. Land-Based Education & Agritour Design offers services and programs for clients in Indiana and surrounding Midwest states. Contact Amy at to arrange a site visit and consultation.

Closing the Gap

The gap between human systems of production and ecological systems providing resources for production will continue to stretch beyond our grasp until mutually beneficial links of social-environmental relationships are reconnected.  Experiential environmental education programs created by Land-Based Education & Agritour Design provide opportunities for community members of all ages to awaken their ecological consciousness and reestablish positive human-nature relationships. path Spring will be here soon! Explore the following farm-based programs designed by L-BEAD at the websites below. Plan a tour for K-12 or university students or for your organization’s team building day. Return to our site soon, as we will be adding more programs in Central Indiana during 2014.

Traders Point Creamery, Zionsville, Indiana  Farm Tours  click here.

Farm Camps at Traders Point Creamery, Zionsville, Indiana click here

Ludwig Farmstead Creamery, Fithian, Illinois  Farm Tours click here.

Interested in rebuilding the link? We are always on the lookout for volunteers, interns, and educators to help close the human-environment gap. Visit our contact page for links to connect with us.

cow discoveryFFA tour