Moonrise, Turtle Rock Farm, Christmas Eve 2015

"Be joyful, even though you have considered all the facts."

-- Wendell 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.

November-December Days at Turtle Rock Farm
and CommonWealth Urban Farm

The Braden family made the music at CommonWealth Urban Farms' 
autumn harvest potluck, scavenger hunt and tour.
CommonWealth founder Lia Woods leads farm 
tour. Friends and neighbors visit.
The Nature Scavenger Hunt was a lot of fun    
and the prizes were great, including a bunch of Lia's delectable baby turnips!     

Pat and Oklahoma Sierra Club Executive Director Johnson Bridgwater hug the Earth     
as Oklahoma Peace House director Nathaniel Batchelder hangs the Earth flag outside the Jim Thorpe Building prior to an interfaith vigil for solar and wind power in Oklahoma.
Inspired by Pope Francis' Encyclical on Care of Our Common Home and the UN Climate Summit in Paris, Oklahomans stepped up our public actions,
including the vigil prior to Corporation Commission hearings on utility company tariffs for residential and business wind and solar installations;
a climate march in downtown Oklahoma City, to support an agreement at the UN Climate Summit to lower carbon emissions.  
Thank you to Tom Temple and Jane Wheeler who carried the TRF banner!
TRF advisory board members Bruce Johnson and Barbara Hagan, walk with Lia Woods, 
 during that cold march, the day after Oklahoma's first winter storm of the season.

Each morning of the two-week Climate Summit, we gathered at Oklahoma City University to join in the silent People's Climate Prayer.
Pat at the Turtle Rock Farm booth during the 30th annual Oklahoma Peace House Peace Festival.
Three women made a friends' autumn day trip to TRF, met the alpaca  
  and toured the straw bale hermitage.
Participants in the Deep Ecology Deep Hope retreat made the Cosmic Walk 
and shared with the truth mandala.
Some of the "Shepherds" during  their last retreat
of the year.  
The house that TRF established this year in  the CommonWealth Urban Farm community got a new coat of paint, inside and out. Garden will be established next spring.
Ann sorting pecans during the bumper harvest.  
The climate justice children's study Pat authored for the United Methodist Women, to be released in 2016.

Reflecting on 2015
and what's emerging in 2016
As evolution is want to do, the work of Turtle Rock Farm, needless to say, is evolving. In 2015, now eight years out from our first days as a retreat center, we expanded into the city, Oklahoma City, into an urban farm community. And in the closing months of 2015 we are beginning to see how our work is evolving in 2016.

Ann has emerged as a farmer: doing the work of gardener, beekeeper, pecan grove and walnut grove manager; the continual planting and watering of trees. She is also the troubleshooter when it comes to protection and care of the animals. She has a keen eye for snakes in the barn, is adept when it comes to construction projects, and sees that all eggs and hatchlings have the best possible chance at life. She keeps equipment running, mows the huge prairie labyrinth as well as a myriad of tasks on the farm.

In 2015, she and husband Frank, friends and volunteers, harvested and prepared for market a bumper pecan crop and a very good honey harvest. Managing the bees, the animals, the garden, the orchard and nut groves are all-consuming.

Pat continues to offer Saturday retreats at Turtle Rock Farm and has expanded her work into the CommonWealth Urban Farm community. That entails a little weekly support with vegetable harvesting. CommonWealth farms provide food for families who join the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and for local restaurants. She also leads groups on eco-spirituality and environmental justice from the new place on 32nd street; along with Jane Wheeler and Nathaniel Batchelder she developed and presents the Oklahoma United Methodist Environmental Coalition's educational program on what to do about climate change; has become part of The Human Community Network, and works with an Oklahoma Conference of Churches group doing environmental awareness education. This fall, she presented at a news conference, a prayer vigil and a public forum on climate change. During the two-week UN Climate Summit she joined others daily in a prayer walk for Earth. In 2015, Pat also completed the manuscript for a children's mission study on climate justice, which is being published by the United Methodist Women in 2016. She will be involved with teaching the study, God's Extravagant Garden, to teachers and children in Nashville, St. Louis, Arkansas and Oklahoma.

When we started the retreat center in 2007 we had no idea we would be doing some of the work we're doing now. Isn't the evolutionary process, the emergence of the next change, incredible!!? Exciting? Hope-full? We stand in awe as we look back and ahead.

Our first retreat of 2016 is January 9, very soon. It's a favorite and one that is often requested: Mindfulness. Details, registration of it and other retreats are listed below. More details of the 2016 calendar will be forthcoming on the website and in future newsletters.

Other events are also listed below, including The Human Community's next gathering, on January 16, and the Oklahoma Interfaith Power and Light's Cool Congregation training, which Jane Wheeler and Pat will lead in Oklahoma City on Jan. 23. Jane, Pat and Nathaniel Batchelder continue to offer the climate change program of the Oklahoma United Methodist Environmental Coalition. That information is below.

As we see constant extreme weather events and untimely changes in nature, we are acutely aware that Earth is interconnected and that humanity is part of Earth, an integral part of this living organism. We know that everything we do and don't do matters. So we are committed, again in 2016, to do everything we can to support the flourishing of life for all on this wondrous planet home. We hope to join with you along the way in 2016.
Beauty, Peace, Wonder, 
Ann and Pat


Workshops and

Mindfulness--Living in the Moment

January 9

Living Mindfully in the Presence is a way of life. 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 and so, more open to clarity and wisdom about living each moment justly and sustainably, so that all may thrive. 
9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. $75 fee includes lunch.
To register, go to the Calendar on our website: 

The Human Community Network
Oklahoma Project Gathering
January 16
February 13

Recognizing that everything is interconnected and that one social justice issue affects other social justice issues, The
Human Community Network is a network of individuals and groups across Oklahoma working together to bring a more just and sustainable life through changes in our social processes. Daunting, yes. Do-able, yes, as we work together--educators, environmentalists, activists, civic leaders, legislators, faith leaders...

In a series of monthly gatherings and occasional two-day symposia in 2016, Oklahomans will meet to work with issues around economic equality, worker equity, human resources, ecological innovations, developing leaders, engaging citizenry, enriching public education, recovering missional focus in faith communities, social and ecological grounding of academic curriculum.

Gatherings are held in Walker Center on the campus of Oklahoma City University.

To learn more:
On Facebook: The Human Community Network If you "like" the fb page, you will receive notices of the monthly gatherings.
On Tumblr: The Human Community Network Foundational documents and other resource material.
On Twitter: The Human Community Network

You may also email Pat Hoerth: or message her on Facebook. 

Oklahoma Interfaith Power & Light's
Cool Congregations Training
January 23

9 a.m. to 3 p.m. 
Oklahoma City location to be announced

As faith communities step up their concern and action toward care in creation, it's helpful to have support and a plan of action. Interfaith Power and Light's Cool Congregation program is a step-by-step process to support congregations and individual congregants lower their carbon footprint. The Oklahoma chapter offers the six-hour Cool Congregations training, in which leaders walk participants through a series of steps that involve forming a team; choosing how they want to lower their carbon footprint the first year; offering support and encouraging individuals and communities through this good work. Jane Wheeler and Pat Hoerth will lead this training.

To register, email Deadline is January 15.

To find out more about Cool Congregations:
Oklahoma's IPL chapter: 

Shepherds' Retreat
February 8-9

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    

A Retreat:
Creating Earth Mandalas-
Inner and Outer Landscapes
February 27

The silence and dormancy of the prairie in winter will be the setting for this retreat as we learn to create mandalas that show us what might be occurring in our own personal landscapes.
By learning this creative and meditative practice, we can spend a few minutes or a few hours going into our deeper selves. 

Carl Jung described his experience with mandalas this way:

"I sketched every morning in a notebook a small circular drawing...which seemed to correspond to my inner situation at the time...Only gradually did I discover what the mandala really is:...the Self, the wholeness of the personality." 

Join Beverly Evans, a licensed therapist and long-time explorer of the practice of making mandalas (one of her mandalas is pictured above.) We will be using pencils, markers and pastels.  Bring your own sketchbook, whatever size is appealing to you.  Other supplies will be provided.  No drawing experience is needed. 

9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. $75 fee includes lunch 
To register, go to the Calendar on our website: 

Meditation Retreat
March 5

Meditation is one of the oldest spiritual practices and one of the most important as we work together to create the kind of world we want to live in.
"When we breathe, sit, and walk mindfully, we generate a powerful collective energy of mindfulness and compassion. From this strong foundation of love and understanding, we take action.
If we feel helpless or overwhelmed, if we have anger, fear or despair, then no matter what we do to heal ourselves or our planet, it will not succeed. That is why to meditate is the most basic, crucial thing we can do. With the insight and fearlessness born from meditation, we will be able to help not only ourselves, but also other species, and our planet." --Thich Nhat Hanh 
There are many forms of meditation from many traditions. On this day-long retreat, led by spiritual director Pat Hoerth, participants will have the opportunity to learn and practice several kinds of meditation, including centering prayer, breath prayer, guided meditations, walking meditation. This retreat is for both beginners and those who've been practicing, but want to deepen their practice. It's a chance to start or re-commit to a meditation practice in the new year, and perhaps start one in your community.

9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. $75 fee includes lunch 
To register, go to the Calendar on our website: 

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:

Connect to Our Blog
Stay Connected

5900 CR 90, Red Rock, OK 74651 580.725.3411