Welcome to our School of Living electronic newsletter where you can catch up on what is happening in our land trust communities and SOL committee work.


We had some technical issues with the website so there has been a delay in the distribution of this month's newsletter. SOL News is for our members to stay connected and informed as well as for those who wish to learn more about and stay in touch with the work of SOL and its communities. We know that you are knee deep in the summer planting, weeding, and harvesting but the invitation to contribute to the newsletter is always open. Your announcements inform us, your recommendations open our eyes, and your images inspire! We are looking forward to hearing from you!


Flowscape: Movements with Nature is a collaboration between StellaLou Farm, the Coop at StellaLou Farm, and Keith Hartwig in Cochranville, PA. The art installation will open during a free event on October 16, 2021. The webpage will be developed over time to reveal more details. This is the same weekend that our SOL board will be meeting at StellaLou so that SOL members can join in the experience. Save the date! There will be educational and interactive events as well as opportunities to socialize and share local foods. Below are some images of the land works we initiated for the event.


Solarizing the soil for a future wildflower wildlife corridor.


Arranging rocks for the dry creek which directs water to the pond


by Michaelann Velicky

Hurricanes, floods, tornados and fire are becoming more frequent as the effects of climate change take hold. They can be devastating to the function and health of family and community. Even isolated situations such as power outages, a failed crop, a sick partner, or a missed paycheck have the ability to create instability in our home systems. How are we creating resilient systems for ourselves and our communities?

There is no single template for all environments and all people but we would all benefit from having certain needs being met. There are 14 basic needs described in this article: Resilience, the Global Challenge, and the Human Predicament. Everyone can work on building skills, relationships, and health before we find ourselves in an emergency situation. Here is one checklist that might get your household and your community talking and preparing.

Resilience building is foundational in permaculture design. Ben Falk of Whole Systems Design presents this, solidly, in The Resilient Farm and Homestead. While it speaks to a rural based audience, basic principles can be generalized.


From The Resilient Farm and Homestead by Ben Falk

Transition Towns encourages local communities to work together to navigate a transition toward resiliency before there are severe interruptions in meeting basic needs. Transition Centre, founded by Bill Sharp and Bob Flatley, is a, particularly, interesting and comprehensive resiliency effort.

Please, share what you are doing, thinking, and talking about to create a more resilient community.


Portable generator at StellaLou Farm


by Michaelann Velicky


The work of the SOL land committee (co-chairs: Rita Jane Kiefert and Ann Wilken) is foundational to the School of Living. Members of the committee engage in weekly in-depth phone calls to stay on top of inquiries, status changes, and requests from the SOL land trust communities. They are the first line of support as community members inquire about land use, projects, legal and financial challenges, and conflicts within the community regarding land use. The basic principles of SOL (focus on education, egalitarianism, responsible stewardship, consensus building, social justice) are the tools and guides that serve the committee. The committee researches the documents and accesses the resources needed to inform their work. Further, they need to relay that information to the land trust community with which they are working. The act of negotiating lease agreements, also, requires a great deal of educational exchange. The committee needs to learn about the community, their vision, and their commitments. In turn the committee shares information about SOL and its land trust model, fees, opportunities, resources, and requirements. Critical decisions and agreements need to be made and conflicts need to be resolved in order for communities to grow in health and productivity. These dynamics have the potential to bring new understandings, movement toward social justice, and strength to communities. Towards these goals, the land committee needs to be adept at consensus building and humane group process. This is a heavy demand. I am grateful to our land committee.

SOL has limited people resources and many committees. Is it possible that SOL committees can serve their passions and missions while integrating, more directly, with the work of the land committee? Could this, in turn, better serve SOL and our land trust communities? What would that look like?


By Michaelann Velicky

It feels like we were just getting ready for spring, preparing for swarms and honey. Suddenly (it seems), we are getting our bee colonies ready for winter. As July fades and we get into August, food sources start to be more scarce for our bees. Honey is harvested and we think about the health of our hive. Do we have a strong queen? Do we have a good population? Do we have mites, beetles, or moths? How does the brood look? How are their food stores?


A frame of capped brood; Image courtesy of StellaLou Farm

In July, I remove the old queens and have the colonies raise new queens. This gives the hive a break in brood rearing. Mites reproduce in the capped brood cells. If there is a period with no laying queen and no capped brood, there is a reduction in mites. Controlling the mite population is key in reducing disease and getting the hives through winter. After about a month from removing the queen, I inspect the hives to see if I have a new laying queen in the hive. I watch to see if she is functioning well. What you see above is a wonderful brood pattern. This tells me that the hive is healthy and the queen is strong. She has solidly laid brood in an organized manner from edge to edge. What a lovely sight! If you ever want to talk bees, send me a message!


AERO begins their new Start an Educational Alternative Course on September 20th. Registration is open!

The Agrarian Land Trust Instagram account gives a wonderful presentation of its work and mission. You might find it inspiring.


Stellar Roots is a collective of Black, Brown, and Indigenous people rooted in healing and in service of land based community living. They have been operating as a partner of the School of Living Land Trust since 2018 and are working and living on the Itsodi land, a School of Living land trust property. Learn how you can support this project. Note that Stellar Roots is not a non-profit organization and your donation will not be tax deductible.

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