Summer Storm Clouds in the City, July 2015

"I love the haiku from Issa: 'Insects on a bough, floating downriver, still singing.' I feel like that's me. All of us. Yes, it's serious. It's deadly serious. But we're still alive! And there is so much beauty that surrounds us. We live in a singing world from crickets to whales to yellow-rumped warblers. We can't forget this, or we will forget what it means to fully be alive...

"I think this is where we are. We're in this time where everything is being turned inside out, including us. Do we have the stamina to not walk away, to stay in this hard place of transformation? I think we do. And to me, that's evolution. I can't imagine being alive at a more thrilling, challenging time where what is called for is acts of imagination, direct action, and stillness."
-- Terry Tempest Williams 
Interview in "Yes!" magazine, no. 75, Fall 2015  

2015 - A Year of Engagement
Taking time to connect with our natural home, be in awe and inspired to have the courage to live sustainably, so that all can thrive.

Harvest Days at Turtle Rock Farm

Oklahoma state Sierra Club executive committee, at TRF for a day retreat, toured the
farm, including the high tunnel garden
and the strawbale hermitage.

 Noah Franklin was our summer intern,
a huge help with gardening and other work around the farm.  
Ann's latest, and most successful, attempt to keep snakes away from hen eggs. 

Five Guinea keets, incubated from eggs rescued from a nest where Mom had been killed.    
Chickens and guineas have learned how to use their solar barn door.
Dear friends with the United Methodist office of Deaconess, Home Missioners and Home Missionaries spent a day at TRF,  
Pat's deaconess appointment site. Deb Rice, Linda Muterspaugh, Linda Crain, Pat, Becky Louter.
Debra Blakely and Rachel Parrot walked the labyrinth in the light of July's full moon.
MaryAnn Sonntag walked the labyrinth in daylight, in preparation for the Prairie Labyrinth Retreat she will lead at TRF in September.
Farmhouse Porch has been the home of a Phoebe couple, who raised two families this summer,
And an Orb Spinner spider, who has tenaciously tended its web right next to the clothesline.
Work continues on the house in the city in the CommonWealth Urban Farm community.
City birds have found the bird feeders.
 Front yard gardens in the CommonWealth community   
and the CSA (Community-Suported Agriculture) farm flourish.
Honey Harvest 2015: opening the hives.
Gently blowing the bees away from the supers full of honey.
11 supers full of honey waiting for extraction. 
The harvest team: Barry Denney, Ginny Poindexter, Ann, Frank, Rob Smith.
Uncapping the honey from the cells.
Spinning the frames to extract the honey.
Extraction and Bottling Team: Ann, Kate and Tripp Kupiec, Craig Kupiec, Ginny, Frank, Rob.
203 pounds of amber nectar--the best honey in the world!
Checking on the pecan trees.
Coming up: pecan harvest!
Here come the joys of autumn!      
What an astonishing summer! While many places in the rest of the world were killingly hot (July 2015 was the warmest month globally in the last 136 years) and while wildfires raged, Oklahoma experienced a rare cooler and wetter summer. The land is still green!

Visitors and guests at Turtle Rock Farm have enjoyed a beautiful summer. It is such a relief to see ponds full, to know the bees have found plenty to eat with an explosive growth of sunflowers and that the animals only had to cope with four days of triple-digit temperatures. In the city, where we have also have a place in the CommonWealth Urban Farm community, the gardens flourish.
We enjoyed the help of Noah Franklin this summer as well as Frank's family and friends gathering to help with the honey harvest.  
The autumn months are going to be eventful! In addition to our workshops and retreats, in the country and the city, (check out the calendar, below) the Green Connections' Prairie Dinner and Concert is October 3. Seating is limited, so reserve your place at the table soon.

Also in October, there will be a couple of weeks of pecan harvesting. So far, the crop looks great this year and we're going to need lots of help. We estimate it will begin around the middle of the month. The work is fun and festive in a beautiful grove along Red Rock Creek. Bring friends and family for an autumn day in the country. Call Ann (580.725.3411) to schedule your day to volunteer.

As our work at Turtle Rock Farm has evolved, Ann's farming (she tends the high tunnel garden, is the beekeeper and manages the pecan and walnut groves) has become well-established, our workshops and retreats at the farm continue to draw participants, guests enjoy quiet time on the prairie in the straw bale hermitage and now, work in the city is beginning to take shape. Partly, it's about noticing that the city is in nature and blogging some of those moments. Our blog is at Partly, it's about helping support the extensive work of the CommonWealth community in its effort to model urban farming. And, turns out, it's partly about education and forming groups to support each other as we meet the challenges of climate change and the opportunities to learn how to live in ways that all on the planet may thrive. One educational opportunity is an hour-long program developed by the Oklahoma United Methodist Environmental Coalition for groups of all kinds who want to figure out how they--individually and collectively--can help the struggling planet. These presentations will begin in earnest in September. Email Pat ( to schedule a program in the coming months for your community, family, school, faith, civic group. As the Terry Tempest Williams comment at the top of this newsletter says: "I can't imagine being alive at a more thrilling, challenging time where what is called for is acts of imagination, direct action, and stillness."

As from our beginning eight years ago, we know how critical for the survival of all on the planet it is that people spend time connecting or re-connecting in the natural world. We hope to welcome you to one of the workshops, retreats, events or quiet days at Turtle Rock Farm this fall. 
Beauty, Peace, Wonder, 
Ann and Pat


Workshops and

Green Connections Seventh Annual 
Prairie Dinner and Concert 
at Turtle Rock Farm 
Saturday, October 3
Five-Course Local Food Dinner  
alongside Doe Creek prepared by Chef Barb of Kam's Kookery

Woods & Waters Winery

Kyle Dillingham in concert

Bonfire and The Milky Way

Tour farm at 3 p.m.
Appetizers at 4:30 p.m.
Dinner at 5 p.m.
Concert following 
More information at

Reserve your place at the table
(limited seating) 

Shepherds' Retreat
September 14-15

A 24-hour retreat for United Methodist clergy and lay leaders. Following the Spiritual Academy model of morning, evening prayer and eucharist and silence, reflecting on readings and small group sharing, the retreat is a time for spiritual renewal for church leaders. This retreat is held four times a year. For more information or to register, email Rev. Susan Ross at or Pat Hoerth at    

Prairie Labyrinth Retreat
September 19

The labyrinth is an ancient spiritual tool for walking meditation. On this day-long retreat, led by Veriditas facilitator MaryAnn Sonntag, participants will have the opportunity to explore the history of the labyrinth and to practice how breath prayer and guided meditation prepare us to then walk the prairie labyrinth. The retreat will conclude with time for reflection and journaling.

9 a.m. to 3:00 p .m.   $75 fee includes lunch.
To register, go to the Calendar on our website: 


Meditation Retreat
at SixTwelve in Oklahoma City
October 10
Meditation is one of the oldest spiritual practices. There are many forms of meditation from many traditions. On this day-long retreat, led by spiritual director Pat Hoerth of Turtle Rock Farm Retreat Center, participants will have the opportunity to learn and practice several kinds of meditation, including centering prayer, breath prayer, guided meditations and short meditation practices to do during the day. This retreat is for both beginners and those who've been practicing, but want to deepen their practice or practice with a group. Please bring a sack lunch.

9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Cost: $35

SixTwelve is located at 612 NW 29th Street in the Paseo Arts District of Oklahoma City. To find out more about SixTwelve, click here
To register, go to the Calendar on the SixTwelve website.  

Deep Ecology, Deep Hope Retreat
November 7



Some days the state of the world can overwhelm us. Despite our intentions, our hopes, our work, we sometimes find that the environmental problems are mounting. Using experiential exercises developed over 40 years by Joanna Macy, an eco-philosopher, author and teacher of The Work That Reconnects helps us look deeply at the graces of life on the planet, face our feelings about the rapid worsening of the environment, begin to develop a vision that will carry us forward, and the practical steps we can take to bring about change so that all on the planet can thrive. It's an exploration into Deep Ecology and the Deep Hope we need to carry us forward. Pat will lead the group through the spiral that helps us develop a supportive community as well as gather strength, meaning and purpose for our lives at this critical time.


9 a.m. to 4 p.m. $75 fee includes lunch.

To register, go to the Calendar on our website: 

Mindfulness--Living in the Moment Retreat
November 14
Mindfulness is a popular practice now for stress reduction. Learning mindfulness practices, learning to live in the moment can offer more than a reduction in stress. It can also help with depression and other conditions of our modern lives. Too, Living Mindfully can become a way of life that helps us appreciate life on this beautiful planet. Using mindfulness practices as well as other spiritual teachings and meditations, spiritual director Pat Hoerth will lead participants toward a more integrated daily life, in which we are more authentically present to our truest selves, each other, the natural world and the Source of Life.

9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. $75 workshop fee includes lunch. 
To register, go to the Calendar on our website: 

Volunteer for Pecan Harvesting 
in our beautiful pecan grove  
along Red Rock Creek 
in October

Call Ann at 580.725.3411 
to schedule your family or group 
for a fun day gathering and sorting pecans 



Where in the World are We
on Changes in Weather, Climate?

A Public Education Program
Available for your group, class, organization


While the very words "climate change" may elicit a charged response-fear, disbelief, denial, passion-the reality that we see changes in nature all around us and all around the world, raise some personal questions that we often are afraid to talk about, that cause us to be overwhelmed about what we alone can do, or even paralyzed by fear about what is happening to the planet.


This presentation, developed by a team with the Oklahoma United Methodist Environmental Coalition, is a user-friendly, interactive approach to facing, expressing and acting on our love for our planet home, our concern for the changes happening and our desire to do something to help. An interfaith, ecumenical or secular program, it is available for civic groups, clubs, youth and college groups, churches, synagogues, mosques, families. If you are ready to talk about what to do to care with the planet, personally or as a community, we're available to facilitate a process that will help you do that-in an hour program, or longer. There is hope!  


To find out more and schedule a presentation, contact:
Pat Hoerth, Turtle Rock Farm. or 580.917.6011

Nathaniel Batchelder, Oklahoma Peace House. 405.524.5577   



To Learn More about Turtle Rock Farm


Kate, Tripp, Craig Kupiec, Ginny Poindexter,
Rob Smith, Barry Denney (not pictured) helped
bring in, extract and bottle the 2015 Honey Harvest! 

If you, your group or family is interested in helping out or providing a service learning project at Turtle Rock Farm, let us know. It takes a village!

Scholarships, provided by the Oklahoma Disciples of Christ Foundation, are available for youth to experience nature at Turtle Rock Farm. Give us a call to schedule your children's group. 
Call -- 580.725.3411, 580.917.6011
Or email:
Comments from our wonderful guests...

"The retreat at Turtle Rock was very peaceful and sacred. This retreat helped me to refuel and to center myself. The atmosphere is conducive to learning--gentle knowledge--very inclusive. Thank you." -- M.R.

"So happy to be the first resident of the new year. What a treat for me! I am praying that this retreat with our Young Adults is just the first of many visits to Turtle Rock. I'm so happy to know you're here and not far away. We are kindred spirits and I look forward to much celebration!!" -- Bill Crowell, Tulsa, Boston Avenue UMC

"This is our fourth stay at the hermitage and visit with you. Each time has been a time of renewal. This short visit is no exception. Our conversation, the simplicity of the hermitage, and the stark beauty of the farm and rolling hills blend together to help bring the peacefulness we need." -- Bill and Jeanne Finely, Silver Spring, Md. and Blacksburg, Va.

"This hermitage is a gracious space-as is the whole farm. I leave grateful for everything-deer and wasps, damp 'possum and faithful dog; greedy goats and trumpeting guineas; laid-back alpacas and boisterous roosters. Sun, then storms; mild breezes and sleet. Happy fishing and beautiful lettuce and greens. Surprise wine and a week's worth of soup.
"This place is much like home without the distractions and anxieties. I take from here the resolve to make home more like this week. Thank you Ann and Pat for providing this space, this beauty, this time of rest. May it continue to bless more and more people as you continue your Great Work of caring for Earth and all her inhabitants." -- Jane Balenger, OP, Heartland Farm, Pawnee Rock, KS

"'O God What a Morning' Deer grazing in the north field, a hawk soaring in the west, no doubt looking for breakfast, a full moon setting in a clear sky, and then a bit later-sunrise. What a show. Thanks God." -- Mary Lou B.

"What a wonderful weekend. I needed to get away from the big city life to think, pray, read, meditate. I found the right place for it. This place is good for my soul. I will most certainly return here. Warm blessings." -- Garrick Voth, Oklahoma City

"Strawbale Hermitage must have been a long time dream which called for much hard work as it came to life. Thank you for your great effort. It is a most peace-filled, comfortable and charming place. I am grateful for these three days surrounded by the sounds of nature and covered over by a dome of blue with lazy clouds. God has blessed me here. May God bless you also. Thank you." -- Susan D.

"We enjoyed the pond and watching the stars and I liked catching grasshoppers, kayaking, listening to the sounds of nature." Mason, Maranda, Bryce and Sherri 
"Thank you. I have had a balancing and purifying experience; hoping to take some of it back with me. As Persing said-the zen you find on the mountaintop is the same zen down below. I appreciate the opportunity to live in this special place for awhile." -- J. 

"Thank you so much or making me feel like family during my 2-week WWOOFing stay! I'm so glad I got to know you and learn from all the great projects y'all have going. I've met some incredible people and activists while here, which is a huge inspiration." -- Hannah

"Quiet, restful, beautiful sunset...I could go on and on. thank you for sharing this wonderful retreat with us! The beekeeping seminar was fun and educational too. Wish we could have stayed longer. Good friends, good food, good fellowship-what more could one ask for? Can't wait to come back!" -- Nancy and Steve

"Awoke to a thin covering of snow and brisk cold north wind-the changing of the seasons. Thank you. Thank you for this place of respite, renewal, encouragement!." -M.L.B.

"First glimmers of light
The hoot of an owl
The words of my teacher
This house made of earth
Many things made by loving hands
I am encouraged
To put my hands to work
And to know the work as good,
As enough for today.
Small steps are still steps.

Hearing the owl in this moment-
Is a step, a connection.
Morning arrives and I am awake
The farm offers its gift
And I am here
To receive it
With a grateful hear." - Pat W.

"Thank you for this in-between time, time to sink into solitude -- accentuated by the drumbeats/heartbeats of our friends from the north who are here to practice saying no to violating the earth. I will leave with their music, and the soul-full music of this place, in my spirit..." Susan

"I like feeding the alpaca and playing in the sand." -- Cohen, age 6

"Thank you very much for showing us the farm and taking us on a hike. I really appreciate it." -- Eden, age 9

"This was a great place to stay. I'd give it a 10 out of 10. I learned a lot while having fun. Best Mor-Mor Camp ever!" -- Colton, age 11

"Thank you for giving us your time and energy. You have made an investment in us! We certainly did "praise God under the open skies" in the labyrinth, the fields, the creeks, in our unstructured play and with each other. Hallelujah!" -- Gala, age 67 (aka "Moder")

"Thank you for this in-between time, time to sink into grieving and solitude-accented by the drum beats/heart beats of our friends from the north who are here to practice saying no to violating the earth. I will leave with their music, and the soul-full music of this place, in my spirit..." -- Susan


in support of

GC logo

Green Connections' Earth Day Festival 2013
Green Connections is a 501c3 Not-for-Profit corporation committed to helping people connect with Earth and learn to live more sustainably. We welcome the opportunity to bring their programming to Turtle Rock Farm.  



You may send tax deductible donations to Green Connections, 5900 CR 90, Red Rock, OK 74651. Or you can donate on the Green Connections website. Or, go to our website - - and click on Green Connections, and use Paypal to send your donation.  

Meet our board members

Green Connections: Vicki Rose (treasurer), Elizabeth Box Price, Dorothy Gray, Pat Hoerth, Ann Denney, Mary Moloney, Shauna Struby (president,) Tom Temple   


Turtle Rock Farm Advisory Council: Barbara Hagan, Bruce Johnson, Corey Williams  



Transition OKC is a program of Green Connections. Find out more about its work on its website:

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5900 CR 90, Red Rock, OK 74651 580.725.3411