A Still Autumn Morning at the Big Pond, October 2015

"If the way of Western civilization and Western religion was once the way of election and differentiation from others and from the earth, the way now is the way of intimate communion with the larger human community and with the universe itself.

"Here we might observe that the basic mood of the future might well be one of confidence in the continuing revelation that takes place in and through the earth. If the dynamics of the universe from the beginning shaped the course of the heavens, lighted the sun and formed the earth, if this same dynamism brought forth the continents and seas and atmosphere, if it awakened life in the primordial cell and then brought into being the unnumbered variety of living beings, and finally brought us into being and guided us safely through the turbulent centuries, there is reason to believe that this same guiding process is precisely what has awakened in us our present understanding of ourselves and our relation to this stupendous process. Sensitized to such guidance from the very structure and function of the universe, we can have confidence in the future that awaits the human venture."

-- Thomas Berry  

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

Shepherds hadn't retreated all summer
and were happy to be together again!
In the CommonWealth Urban Farm community, City Councilman Ed Shadid, Assistant City Manager Laura Johnson and other city staff   
toured the farm and gardens in the neighborhood to learn about the systems in place to grow food in the city.
Jane Wheeler, Nathaniel Batchelder and Pat present the Oklahoma United Methodist Enviornmental Coalition's program     
on personal response to changes in the climate for groups in Oklahoma and, this one, in Gainesville, TX.    

Seminarians from St. Paul's School of Theology at Oklahoma City University  
make the cosmic walk during a retreat day.   
Labyrinth retreat  
led by MaryAnn Sonntag.
Pat led a meditation retreat at Six Twelve,  
 a sustainability education center in Oklahoma City.
Linda Temple making final check of table settings for Prairie Dinner in the Barn on the Prairie (due to threat of rain--the first in seven years!)
Kitchen set up in the barn's shop.
 Chef Kamala Gamble, of Kam's Kookery,     
with abundant and delicious appetizers.
Guests gather 
and greet each other.
Two long tables
in the round-top barn.
Transition OKC chair Marcy Roberts presents Community Catalyst Award
to CommonWealth Urban Farm founder Lia Woods.
Youngest dinner guests decorate with found chicken and guinea feathers. 
The Sewell family from Pawnee.
Board member Elizabeth Box Price and John Price.
Trina Bose North attends most years.
Kyle and Andrea Dillingham and their children. 
Closer to Earth Youth--best servers ever!
Gathering 'round the fire. 
Kyle Dillingham begins the concert.
Young Christopher feels right at home next to his dad.
And then it was time for pecan harvest.  
Ann's sons, their wives and children come to help!
The three one-year-olds learned how to shuck the pecans from their hulls.  
They were determined to help.
A day's  harvest, loaded on the trailer.
Bags and bags and bags of pecan husking.
Frank's brother and sister-in-law came to help too,  
along with OCU students, for their service learning component.

Bumper-Crop, Celebratory Fall Days!      
Pecan harvest doesn't happen every year. This is the second harvest for the young (20-year) grove our father planted along Red Rock Creek in his 70's. Both harvest years, there has been a torrential rain upstream and the trees have stood in water for a week or more. They love the soaking and this year have produced a prodigious amount of delicious pecans. We are grateful for all who have come to help bring in the (we think) 3,000-pound pecan harvest. Juliette Hulen, Ruth Atterberry, David Atterberry, Mary Lou Bender, Jeremy Cochran, Emma Stoneking and Erik Wierenga. Family members Barry Denney, Barbara Denney, Brok McFerron, Kim Rae McFerron, Ben McFerron, Abby McFerron and our littlest helpers, Dottie, Jane and Conner. If you want to purchase some of this great food (never touched by chemicals) let us know, or stop by our table at the Peace Festival November 14. (More info about that below.)

We celebrated the beauty of the earth and the good work of those who work toward changes that promote the flourishing of all life at our seventh annual Prairie Dinner and Concert. Glorious rain was predicted, so we delayed our decision about setting up outside along Doe Creek or inside in the round-top barn until early afternoon. After much careful analysis and reliance on our years of watching weather change in Oklahoma we took the safe path and set up in the barn, which, by then, required a great team effort. And we had a great team of friends and supporters, including, this year our colleagues from Transition OKC and the committed youth of Closer to Earth. Chef Kamala Gamble of Kam's Kookery again, for the seventh year, created a local foods dinner that astounded, again, and delighted, again, even those of us who have attended every year. Thank you Kam!! Dale from Woods & Waters Vineyard encouraged a switch from our favorite Shiraz to Merlot and the Merlot also received raves.

Transition OKC chose the prairie dinner to present its Community Catalyst Award. It took a bit of sneaky maneuvering, but we managed to lure Lia Woods out of the CommonWealth Urban Farm up to Turtle Rock--to help the youth, she was told. So she was shocked and pretty much speechless when the award was presented to her for her stupendous leadership and work creating and promoting urban agriculture. We were thrilled that Lia received this recognition, and are very grateful that our city-place and city-work is right in the heart of the great work of CommonWealth Urban Farm community. If you are in the neighborhood on Halloween Saturday, join us for a potluck lunch at the garden, 3310 North Olie, 11:30-1:30.

There can be no full celebration without the magic of music. And Kyle Dillingham's music is especially magical. A dear, longtime friend (we've known him since he started playing violin as a youth!) Kyle's playing comes from his heart and soul and creates not just a concert, but an experience of warmth and beauty. He included a surprise this year: a relative brought her saxophone and the two, unrehearsed, wowed us with a couple of jazz pieces. Thank you Kyle and Claire!!

Retreats, workshops and other presentations continued as well...

The shepherds returned after the summer for a fall retreat. We look forward to time with them at their next retreat, beginning Nov. 30. (See below.) Our friend MaryAnn Sonntag led the labyrinth retreat. It was a lovely day with her, the participants and in the labyrinth atop the sky-filled prairie. As we walked the turns in and out, MaryAnn walked the outside of the labyrinth, holding us. Sometimes we heard the soft ringing of a bell wafting from her direction.

Pat led the meditation retreat, this time in the city, at Six Twelve, a sustainabiity center in the arts district of Oklahoma City. It is a welcoming space right in the heart of the city and we are grateful to Amy Young, Six Twelve's founder and director, for inviting us.

Much is emerging in our work with spirituality and sustainability in Oklahoma City. We were on hand to help discuss with city officials touring CommonWealth Urban Farms ways the city can support and encourage the emergence of urban agriculture. We are grateful these city leaders took the time to visit. It was exciting to be able to demonstrate and explain the value of growing vegetables instead of grass in our front yards.

Jane Wheeler, Nathaniel Batchelder and Pat continue to present the Oklahoma United Methodist Environmental Coalition's program on making a personal response to changes in the natural world. They have presented to church groups in Oklahoma City and Stillwater, to city groups in Pawnee and at a college and to the general public in Gainesville, TX. Next programs are in Tulsa, Oklahoma City and Pauls Valley. See below for more information about the program and get in touch with Pat to schedule the hour-program for your group.

Coming up...

The last programmed retreat of the year is Saturday, Nov. 7 at Turtle Rock Farm. Deep Ecology Deep Hope is one of Pat's favorite offerings. See below for details.

Catalyzed by Pope Francis' Encyclical on the Climate, the Oklahoma Conference of Churches and the Oklahoma Interfaith Power and Light have scheduled special events.

Nov. 2, the Oklahoma Interfaith Power and Light and the OkUMC Environmental Coalition are sponsoring  a prayer vigil at 5:30 p.m. outside the offices of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. The next day the commission begins public hearings on the public utilities companies' request for tariffs for individuals and others who use solar. The vigil will be a prayer service for solar in Oklahoma. Read more and indicate your participation at the OKIPL fb event page.

Nov. 5, at 6:30 p.m. the Oklahoma Conference of Churches is sponsoring an Evening of Listening: Climate Change is Real. Held at St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral, 127 NW 7th, in Oklahoma City, the panel includes Rev. Tim Luschen, the Rev. Dr. Deborah Meinke and Turtle Rock Farm's Pat Hoerth. It's free and open to the public. Here's the link for more information. The day before there will be a news conference in which several leaders of faith communities will call on faith communities to encourage nations to commit to radical lowering of carbon emissions at the UN Climate Summit in Paris beginning Nov. 30. Here's one way individuals and congregations can make the commitments themselves. www.parispledge.org

Nov. 14, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Turtle Rock Farm will again be greeting people at its table at the Peace Festival in the Civic Center Hall of Mirrors, 201 N. Walker, Oklahoma City. Sponsored by the Peace House, many social justice organizations provide information and items for holiday shopping. There is also live music and  a supervised children's area. We'll be offering information as well as pecans and photo greeting cards. We hope to see you at this great community event! (It is a zero-waste event, thanks to Closer to Earth youth!!)
Well, it is good to be in Oklahoma where people are responding to Pope Francis' call to action for the earth and where so many people are already deeply committed to creating community where all life can flourish! Join the movement in every way you can. Be in touch with us for conversations about how to connect with groups.

And we hope to welcome you soon at Turtle Rock Farm!
Beauty, Peace, Wonder, 
Ann and Pat


Workshops and

Shepherds' Retreat
November 30 - December1

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 ross-susan@sbcglobal.net or Pat Hoerth at pathoerth@gmail.com    

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: 

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. pathoerth@gmail.com 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: annbdenney@gmail.com   pathoerth@gmail.com
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 - www.turtlerockfarmretreat.com - 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: goinglocalOKC.com

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5900 CR 90, Red Rock, OK 74651 580.725.3411