Restoring the Richness of Life

By Tom Bender












 Ahh, this image still brings tears to my heart!

We’d been working our butts off cleaning up the farm – for almost a year. Getting rid of debris; figuring out what could be saved, given new use, what else had to be done.

It was spring. I’d gone off to a crazy 10-day Vipassana meditation boot-camp, and swung by the farm on my return to check on things. I pulled into the driveway, and slammed on my brakes. OMG, it’s SO BEAUTIFUL. What happened!!! I was surrounded by incredible loveliness. My heart burst open like each of the flowers surrounding me on all sides.

Wildflowers had sprung up and into bloom all around where I’d stopped. The places we’d cleared of debris, where we’d dragged away abandoned cars, cut down broken trees, had bloomed into new life.

I sat there crying for a long time, soaking it in. My heart so filled with joy, gratitude, and amazement.

I knew then, deep inside, that restoring the richness of life here was possible, and that the land was celebrating its joy in the first steps we’d taken.

Already, that first year, removal of truckloads of debris. Manure piles were spread as compost bringing life back to the soil in the garden area. Cleanup of the collapsed homestead. Repair of the barn, conversion of the greenhouse – both given new purpose. Every year since has brought a compounding of that new richness.

I was amazed that in two years the fertility of the soil seemed to return. Grass grew uneaten, and composted back into the soil, giving new fertility. Orchard trees – pruned and composted – regained vitality.

Eight hundred trees planted to shade the creek and bring back salmon habitat – each plant fenced so it could survive hungry elk – rooted in, and its richness spreading each year. After only ten years, we now have cedars thirty-five feet tall!

Marsh, wetlands, pond restoration and the return of migratory birds. A happy, protected herd of elk. Blackberries replaced by native planting. That’s one dimension. But another, more subtle one is richness of purpose and how it is manifesting in different elements of the farm.

Educational programs with school-kids. They get back on the bus, but their excitement, happiness, and wonder linger. Wonderful workshops and tours deepening community and visitors’ awareness. Appreciation, connection and integration with the web of the ecology of our locale, how life interacts and cross-enriches its selves. And now the teaching trail, embodying love and deeper wisdom, as well as “teaching.” Tree-planting screening, giving the elk “private” areas. The garden, feeding community hearts as well as tummies.

All reaching skyward into greater and more wonderful richness every year. The sacred cedar forests regrowing on the hills around. Dikes removed, salt-water wetlands coming alive again. Habitats and more habitats restored, along with our connection with and love for them.

When we feel that powerful richness of life, it comes in part from RIGHTNESS . . . of most things being in true, reciprocal relationship with all it is connected with. It comes from a basis of GIVING to others, to other life, and receiving in turn. It comes with joyous gratitude, with wonder at something splendidly new and valuable coming into being.

OK . . . that’s why the energy at Alder Creek Farm is becoming so rich. It’s all coming from GIVING!!!!

A whole community – giving time, money, dreams, resources. All pouring into this place from hearts deeply open. Sharing love of many different things, all stirring together into a wonderful soup.


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About lanedemoll

I was one of the Founding Board members of the Lower Nehalem Community Trust, 2002-2005.
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