By: Caleb Weaver, Community Restoration Program Manager
BRN is very excited to announce the purchase of Deep Dirt Farm (DDF), an aridlands permaculture demonstration site. This 19-acre farm is situated two miles outside Patagonia, adjacent to the Borderlands Wildlife Preserve. Founder and visionary of Deep Dirt, Kate Tirion, a Patagonia resident since the early 90’s, built the farm because “there was just a need for it.” What was once a heavily grazed, eroded grassland is now a productive, resilient eco-system that inspires students and volunteers from throughout the world through workshops and internships that support regional habitat development and restoration. Kate is a renowned permaculturist with over 25 years of experience in permaculture design and teaching.
Thousands of young people from all over the world have visited and learned at Deep Dirt Farm while giving back and building infrastructure from reclaimed and repurposed objects over time.
Kate and her husband, Richard Connelly, thoughtfully observed the landscape before developing it to work harmoniously with the land by applying permaculture principles. First, a road was installed to "lay lightly on the land" and serve multiple functions, including a firebreak, a source to shed rainwater, and provide access. Before long, they built a greenhouse, and DDF was producing food. Women Grow Food, founded by Kate and Lynn Davison, a Patagonia resident and BRN board member, soon was formed for women to learn and grow organic vegetables.
For more than 35 years, Kate Tirion’s primary focus has been providing healthy food sources to humans and wildlife. By working with the seasonal variations unique to the Sky Islands, Kate focuses on human and nonhuman health to "Restore the Land and Restore Ourselves,” a Deep Dirt Farm bumper sticker reads. Walking around the farm, you will see repurposed shipping containers, earthen structures with satellite dish rooftops, an outdoor kitchen and shower, a permitted composting toilet, garden beds and orchards, and erosion control structures of every size and shape placed to repair degraded land.
BRN and Deep Dirt Farm have worked together over the years in many ways. In 2012, DDF began growing native plants in collaboration with BRN to introduce them into the property's landscape. BRN has also engaged over one hundred Patagonia youth to work at the farm as part of the Borderlands Earth Care Youth program. Most recently, Women Grow Food came under the management of BRN and its program offerings. DDF also serves as an inspirational and enlightening cornerstone experience of our programming for the many traveling student groups that visit BRN annually.
With the incredible infrastructure already in place at Deep Dirt Farm, BRN is honored to oversee the continued development of the farm, while maintaining Women Grow Food, continuing to serve as a learning center for visiting groups, and further developing programming and learning opportunities into the future. We send our most sincere thanks and appreciation to Kate for all that she has done to create this unique permaculture learning center and to the generous donors who contributed to this purchase.
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