A variety of events, activities and celebrations take place on Earth Day every year and I have no doubt that 2011 will be any different. Save the Plant T-shirts! Planting trees! New recycling programs! Bicycle rides! These are all things that I have done with, might I add, great enthusiasm. However, as someone who has a “green job” and is daily examining all things environmental, I often look at the enthusiasm displayed on Earth Day and think about how that can be extended throughout the year. A few years ago I started picking one thing that I wanted to learn more about and then integrate into my day-to-day life. 2009 was about using more public transport, 2010 was getting to know and supporting my local food community, the jury is still out on 2011 but I know that it will involve working with Turtle Rock Farm Retreat.

Following a discussion about green destinations in Oklahoma, my boss said to me, “You need to go see what Governor Bellmon’s girls are doing. It’s amazing.” This was my first introduction to Turtle Rock Farm Retreat and I quickly found out that the “girls” my boss was referring to are Ann McFerron and Pat Hoerth, the sisters behind Turtle Rock Farm Retreat. Turtle Rock is a center for sustainability, spirituality and healing. Turtle Rock is the perfect place to take time to relax and enjoy nature. However, even if the goal is relaxation, learning is an inevitable part of the Turtle Rock experience. Ann and Pat call Turtle Rock a center for sustainability and their actions back up that claim. They have cut their water usage in half by setting up water collection systems and water reuse. They grow their food and source the rest locally. They have a strong recycling program and even a compostable toilet. Yes, a compostable toilet. All of these practices and many more are seamlessly integrated into the operation and provide any visitor with ideas about what can be implemented in their own lives.

What I love most about Turtle Rock is their commitment to education and hands-on learning. When I mentioned that the jury was still out for my 2011 goal it is because I haven’t decided which wonderful Turtle Rock workshop I want to attend. Ann and Pat host workshops covering a wide range of useful topics. This spring they will host workshops on composting, making your own raise beds, cooking with local food and beekeeping basics. There are also volunteer opportunities, spiritual retreats and nature walks all designed to give the visitor new tools and a greater understanding of the interconnectedness between nature and ourselves.  

2011 might be the year of composting or the year of beekeeping, either way I feel lucky that a place like Turtle Rock exists in Oklahoma. And Oklahoma is lucky to have two wonderful women committed to community education and promoting sustainable living.  

Turtle Rock will be hosting their first Earth Day celebration on April 22nd. Learn more at www.turtlerockfarmretreat.com.

Jessica Blackstock is the Sustainable Initiatives Coordinator for the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department. She oversees the Encouraging Conservation in Oklahoma, ECO, which promotes sustainable travel in Oklahoma.