Turtle Rock Farms Leads by Example in the Area of Sustainability
Turtle Rock Farms, a retreat center with sustainable practices at its core, added its name to the growing list of Encouraging Conservation in Oklahoma (ECO) members, the state’s premiere sustainable travel program.
Located near Red Rock, Okla., the farm achieved platinum status through a thorough recycling and composting practice, a commitment to using local food sources, and a goal of educating the community on green living.
“Turtle Rock Farms is using its passion for sustainability to educate others,” Oklahoma Tourism & Recreation Department Executive Director Deby Snodgrass said. “They are a great example of how people in the hospitality industry can inspire a community by being an example.”
From its inception, sustainability has been a way of doing business. Owners Pat Hoerth and Ann McFerron, daughters of former Oklahoma Governor Henry Bellmon, said they hope guests will adopt a more eco-conscious attitude after visiting.
“We hope that people who come to Turtle Rock Farm can get in touch with their natural home and see, through our educational programs and our modeling, that they can begin to make choices - one at a time - to enter the process and mindset of sustainability,” Hoerth said.
In addition to housing its visitors, the farm offers classes in sustainable gardening, beekeeping and meditation. Guests can stay in the farm house, the pond house or the strawbale hermitage, which Hoerth and McFerron consider their biggest success.
“We built the small cottage with straw bales from our wheat harvest and clay from right out front,” Hoerth said. “It was a huge community effort. We all learned a great deal about passive solar, composting toilets, natural insulation, and the importance of community.”
            McFerron and Hoerth decided to dedicate themselves to the retreat center after hearing how the peaceful atmosphere impacted their guests, and they later joined the ECO program in order to act as an ambassador for sustainability.
“Many people aren't aware of some of the simple life changes that can make a big difference,” McFerron said. “Becoming part of the ECO Program is an excellent way of getting the word out that Turtle Rock Farm is a place to come and see sustainability at work.”
Since 2009, the Oklahoma Tourism & Recreation Department and Department of Environmental Quality’s ECO Certification program has promoted, developed and encouraged sustainable tourism throughout the state. ECO Certification requires applicants to meet set criteria and be reviewed by a national certification board. A certification level of silver, gold or platinum can be awarded, based on the level of sustainable practices the applicant chooses to implement.
The Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department (OTRD) is working to advance the exceptional quality of life in Oklahoma by preserving, maintaining, and promoting our natural assets and cultural richness. The department is the steward of the state park system and also promotes Oklahoma as a travel destination through many award-winning programs. To learn more about Oklahoma Tourism visit www.TravelOK.com or follow us at www.Facebook.com/TravelOK or www.Twitter.com/OklahomaTourism.