DETAILS OF THE LAND AND ITS POSSIBILITIES
The land is an area of 15.6 acres at about 7,000 ft elevation at 38° latitude with:
- a pasture on the north end,
- a forested Saddle Mountain side on the south end,
- and two creeks, Little Coal and Smith Fork in between.
It is not in the flood zone and the land comes with irrigation rights from a ditch at the highest northern boundary maintained by three neighbors.
The climate is cold semi-arid with a continental effect. It gets about 19 inches of rain and about 48 inches of snow on average per year. The land is mostly sheltered from the wind in the valley. The average summer high temperature is about 89°F and average winter low temperature is about 13°F. The USDA hardiness zone is 5a with about 124 frost free days (with an average first frost date on Sep 21, and last frost date on May 21).
At summer solstice, the sun positions are from 60° to 300° and the maximum sun angle is 74°, giving 15 hours of sunlight. At winter solstice, the sun positions are from 120° to 240° and the maximum sun angle is 25°, giving 9 hours of sunlight. The sunlight is not blocked by the Saddle Mountain almost all the way down to the creeks even at the shortest day of the year.
The approximately 67,000 sq ft pasture was previously used by horses and flood irrigated. It has a gentle, about 5% south facing slope. It is surrounded by gamble oak and covered with grasses, chicory, and patches of milkweed. The alkaline, about 8 pH combination soil is occasionally aerated by rodents.
The lower northern shelf, just above the creeks provides a bit cooler microclimate. It is where an abandoned trailer is being repurposed to serve as a community building, classroom and a workshop.
The riparian buffer around the creaks creates another unique microclimate with possibilities of ponds and plethora of moisture and shade loving plants and mushrooms.
Across the Smith Fork creek, on the northern slope of the Saddle Mountain, there is a leveled shelf. It is a possible building site for seasonal cabins for hot summer days surrounded by native flora with medicinal and edible understory species among the majestic cottonwoods.
DETAILS OF THE NORTH FORK VALLEY
We are located in the North Fork Valley, the organically creative hub of Colorado. The land is about 5 miles east of a quiet town of Crawford, 16 miles to Hotchkiss and 18 miles to Paonia. We are surrounded by vast stretches of wilderness and public lands and are about 15 miles from the eastern entrance to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.
image of the sunrise over the North Fork Valley from http://www.northforkvalley.org
The land is about an hour drive to the Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute in Basalt and we are blessed with a wonderful regeneratively focused community with many local permaculture and biodynamic courses being offered. The many craftsmen, artists, performers and activists provide many possibilities of rich cultured social life for kids and adults. The mostly agrarian entrepreneurs drive our local economy and the epicurean locals like to make it alternative with bartering, future food hubs, and other cooperative businesses. The local farmer and baker was the driving force behind the 2012 Colorado Cottage Foods Act, which launched many home businesses around the state. Paonia is the home of the training facility of Solar Energy International, a non-profit educational organization that strives to provide industry-leading technical training and expertise in renewable energy to empower people, communities, and businesses worldwide.
CURRENT STATE AND 2015 GOALS
This is a brand new permaculture site. We purchased about 16 acres of raw land in late 2014 and are developing it now. Currently, we are finishing the solar-powered off-the-grid community house which will have a kitchen, bathroom, workshop, an attached greenhouse, and a large classroom ready to receive students, activists, entrepreneurs, and community members. We are also working on fencing, domestic and irrigation water systems, and various earthworks projects, including access driveway. Depending on time and resources we would like to start building our natural earth-sheltered home, masonry heater, and an outdoor pizza oven. Our main focus after creating a shelter is healthy soil building, as well as regenerating and stewarding environmentally damaged areas. We would like to build myco-remediation beds to filter out neighboring horse stable runoff before it goes into the creek and improve the riparian buffer along the creek with propagating suitable plants. Our goal is to create a natural, earth-friendly ecosystem that energizes people on all levels and allows for personal and group endeavors, as well as shares and returns the surplus of energy and knowledge.
There are many building sites for satellite natural buildings to house the Wild Cooperative’s community members as well as interns and apprentices. We are developing all the structures, including: cabins/homes, greenhouses, bee hives, water cisterns, grey water reclamation pool with filtrating plants, humanure biogas digester, and composting toilet(s). The access driveway, pathways, and trails going up the Saddle Mountain and into the surrounding public lands are formed.
An initial containment pond to pacify the irrigation water is dug, filled with rocks and the edge planted with wind and sun shading vegetation. Swales are created to spread and soak the water and planted to a food forest with alley cropping in between the swales. Our edible forest garden supplies all of our fruit, nut, vegetables, culinary and medicinal herbs, mushrooms and honey, fire and construction wood, as well as surplus of these products for replacement of components of the ecosystem and for profit. It gives us private secure relaxing shelter, a demonstration and experimentation site as well as a place of employment.
WILD COOPERATIVE’S SHARED VISION
We are a community cultivating cooperative and facilitating relationship with nature and each other and share the knowledge of our living experiences. We are concentrating on changing our life’s perspective from human centric to bio centric where all life, in any form is part of our family and relatives.
Community members have about a quarter of an acre to build a sustainable natural home to provide privacy. These natural homes are under 600 square feet and approach zero net energy consumption. The community stuarts the remainder of the land and have shares in the Wild Cooperative which grows in value and quality.
Community members agree on a group ethic. In our “doacracy,” people that are doing the tasks are making the decisions by consensus, where (quoting Bill Mollison) “there is no one way to do anything” since “‘one solution’ systems evolve from the concentration of power in one or other form.” We make our decisions based on the holistic management framework with permaculture ethics at its basis while practicing non-violent communication.
We are open to visitors but we ask them to consider our community and personal space and call ahead before coming.
The Wild Cooperative is looking for two to three partners to share its vision. The land stewardship basically follows the Mollison’s Village Development model. Each party contributes approximately $80,000. A third of the generated funds supports the development of community infrastructure, including buildings, pathways/roads, equipment, tools, fencing, and irrigation; another third covers the land cost; and another third is given to the community for later use.
WHY DO WE NEED A COMMUNITY?
Voluntary association of individuals with their various skills and knowledge that want to be together and have common ethics will act upon them in much easier fashion than separately or in an involuntary model (most towns or neighborhoods). It is not hard to imagine a situation where we are dependent on each other and we want our community to support us. Just as we design a resilient system on the ground we want to have the same resilient social, economic, cultural and educational guilds.