Talkeetna Blueberry Sanctuary
200 acres of old forest, including land on a bluff overlooking Danali and the Alaskan Range. Frisbee golf course, hiking trails, cross-country skiing trails, swimming hole, soon-to-be sauna, springhead, camping area, fire-pit, and wood-burning hot-tub. And, of course, berry bushes galore.
Down several gravel roads after you turn onto the Talkeetna Spur Road, just over ten miles from Talkeetna, Alaska
We e-mailed them to ask if we could stop by and visit, then stopped by with about a day's notice
The Sanctuary is an exquisitely beautiful piece of land at the beginning of a great community. They've constructed a house, a cabin, and almost another house. They've put in roads and trails and an electricity system. They've done amazing visualizing, planning, and organizing. We loved visiting in part because the Sanctuary is so new, with such exciting potential, and also quite a lot of hard, hard work already finished.
There were originally about nine familes who lived in Anchorage, meeting once a month to talk about buying some land and making an Intentional Community. They were tired of urban blight (construction, strip malls, too many people encroaching on their neighborhoods) and wanted a chunk of property somewhere Green (or Green-ish). They wanted to be able to pick their own neighbors. When the land appeared (serendipitously and impetuously) only three familes actually made the commitment, formed the Limited Liability Corporation that is the TBS, bought the land, and invested more cash for roads, generators, snow plow equipment, and worked, worked, worked to make it happen.
Sight: White-baked trunks and silvery rounded leaves of the tall old quaking Aspens. Soft, whispering, soothing ferns. The dull blue of berries on the bush. Moose prints bigger than your palm. Sawmill, snow-plow, generators. Off-white gravel roads. Mirrored-lake, wooden dock. Bounding, furry dogs. Dome-home half buried in earth and gravel, carved wood inside. Light through windows, light through trees. Berries flash through the knee-high green, blue, red, cranberry, orange-red. Cinnamon the dog's earthy, glowing, red-brown eyes.
Sound: Excited rrruffs of playing dogs. Rattling whisper of wind through the aspen leaves. Whine of dive-bomping mosquitoes. Comforting chatter of story-telling and questions-answered. Breathy, heavy quiet of true wilderness.
Taste: Sweet, soft, salty salmon, flakes against our pallates, then melts on our tongues. Sweet tang of ripened blueberries, sweeter because we picked them, ate them while we hiked on.
Touch: Tease of brush against my calves, poke of twigs against my knees and thighs. Soft, silky dog-fur. Firm mud grits against my feet. Warm sun, cool breeze. Gathering cold as night tries to fall.
Smell: Clean air, clean breeze. Twist of pines against my nose.
Kym's Favorite Things:
Recreation was planned very early. There are hiking trails, skiing trails, a frisbee-golf course, a swimming hole with a dock, and a hot-tub (with plans for a sauna imminent).
The land itself. The old forest looks completely different from the farmed lands around it. The ferns are soft and soothing, the trees taller, the view of the Alaskan Range absolutely splendid. Blueberries along the trails, bear and moose prints everywhere.
The Alaskan climate makes it necessary to compromise on the Permaculture issue. Houses are built for efficiency, but they do look like houses, and there are no dirt floors anywhere. The place is ecologically sensitive, but not fanatically uncomfortable like many Permaculture places.
Skip's Favorite Things:
Loved the woodfired-hottub and the frisbee golf course. Lots of hiking and winter trails. A glorious swimming hole!
The land was well-chosen and suited their needs splendidly.
What Kym Didn't Like:
No alternative energy sources (altho this is something they've planned for the future).
No real community area (also planned for the future).
No way for us to move in for the rest of the summer.
What Skip Didn't like:
Love to see some alternative energy, but I haven't figured out how to produce that during their peak needs. Biodiesel generator?
Cinnamon, Billy, and Topaz welcomed our dogs to the Sanctuary. I don't think I've been in a place this dog friendly YET. Our dogs were happier here than any other time on this entire trip. They got to prowl the land in just their collars (where are they going to go? asked one of our human hosts), they got to play with Billy, a giant, gently Malamute mix. Dogs are welcome, happy, and safe at the Sanctuary.
What We Learned:
The order of building is very important. Main, private housing should probably wait until the community center is built. People need a semi-comfortable place to shelter while they're building the community center, but if private homes are built too soon, the community area might not get built fast enough.
What We'll Incorporate into Our Place:
Generators are not evil, especially if you can come up with a diesel generator that you can run on Biodiesel.
Hot tub, hot tub, hot tub. And swimming hole!