School of Living News 

February 2020

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.
Julian, PA
by Ann Wilken

Image courtesy of Ann Wilken
Jeffrey Peter Wilken, May 3, 1951 – February 15, 2020

​Jeffrey Peter Wilken passed away peacefully at his home with his wife, Ann, and his best friend, Wayne Hansen, at his side.  He is survived by his wife of 40 years, Ann ; his son and his family – Joshua Wilken, April, Brielle, and Ethan ; his daughter and her family – Rose Manning, Shawn, Elijah, Henry, and Gianna;  his mother Patricia Wilken; his sister Sue Norton and husband Greg ; his brother August ‘Tad’ Wilken and wife Laura. Jeff was born in Newark, NJ but made his way to Central Pennsylvania in 1976, when looking for land to build his own home.  He settled at Julian Woods Community where he and Ann built a house, ran a furniture restoration business, developed a cooperative community, and raised their two children. Jeff lived well despite his 30-year struggle with Multiple Sclerosis. Jeff began building his house at Julian Woods Community, starting with a small hexagonal cabin in 1977, and continued to build and expand the house for the next 20 years, designing and constructing as he had the time and the funds.   Jeff and Ann operated a furniture restoration business, Community Woodworks, from 1977-1990. When the symptoms of MS took over more of Jeff’s life he sold the business to his long-time partner and friend Tom Barr. Jeff always enjoyed working with wood and leather, creating usable items with the beauty of those materials. But his foremost heart focus was always his family – providing, supporting, teaching, sharing, and loving to the best of his ability. Family and Friends will gather for a simple memorial in the woods near his home.  In lieu of flowers, please consider planting a tree in his memory – to heal the earth.

Image courtesy of Ann Wilken



The Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) is a multi-cultural volunteer organization of Marylanders dedicated to reducing interpersonal violence in our society. The AVP program offers experiential workshops that empower people to lead nonviolent lives through affirmation, respect for all, community building, cooperation and trust.

School of Living is happy to host AVP representative Bill Denison to work with us during our annual April SOL Quarterly Meeting on April 25th, 3-5 p.m at the historic mill house at Heathcote Community. Bill has been involved with AVP conflict resolution workshops since 2005. He, primarily, facilitates at Patuxent Institution where he helps with the Training for Facilitators workshops. He sees AVP as a vehicle for creating what Dr. Martin Luther King called the “Beloved community”.

While this workshop is not open to the public, SOL members and our land trust community members are encouraged to participate. 

 Image courtesy of AVP/Bill Denison
On February 12, 2020; Karen Stupski and Herb Goldstein joined on Zoom to present the School of Living Community Land Trust model webinar. There was time given for questions, answers, and discussion. Participants included members of Julian Woods Community, Delaware Valley Co-Living Cooperative, and Street Road Artists Space (in interest of their Clouded Title project). Thank you, Karen and Herb, for sharing your time and knowledge! If readers are interested in learning more about the School of Living Community Land Trust model, please, contact


Image courtesy of Travis Bordley​

The SOL board met with David Harper and Andrew Faust to learn about the mission, vision, and work of Permaculture Living Lands Trust (PLLT). PLLT submitted an application to become a School of Living fiscally sponsored project which the board approved in this meeting. PLLT was incorporated in 2019 as a nonprofit organization in the State of New York. They are, currently, working on their IRS Form 1023 application for tax exempt status as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. ​


Image courtesy of Permaculture Living Lands Trust
We look forward to learning more and supporting the important and innovative work of Permaculture Living Lands Trust. 


Image courtesy of CHEARS

Chesapeake Education, Arts and Research Society (CHEARS) and SOL’s Heathcote Education Committee will be partnering for a series of events focused on seed saving. This will be their first event together. From the event brochure: “We’ll start with a potluck lunch and grill some plant based hot dogs and burgers on the Schrom Park Pavilion grill followed by a short presentation about why we are doing this project and getting input from attenders on how to best launch an open seed exchange library co-op.  This will be followed by open seed starting and native tree seedling potting for nursery care. If interested, participants can take home seeds and tree seedlings.” Here is the link for more information and registration. Stay tuned for upcoming seed saving workshops.


by Michaelann Velicky

Image courtesy of the Coop at StellaLou Farm

On Saturday, February 29, 2020; the Coop at StellaLou Farm hosted a workshop about using fire as a regenerative tool on the landscape. The workshop was led by Zach Elfers. He started our workshop off by describing the differences between cultural burning, prescribed fires, and wildfires. He told us how first peoples all across the world were connected intimately with the land, plants, and animals around them. They used fire with that understanding and toward increasing health, abundance, and biodiversity.  
Image courtesy of the Coop at StellaLou Farm​

He reinforced safety as he spoke and worked the fire: notify the local fire department that you will be doing an open brush burn and when you are finished; note temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, create firebreaks as needed, have tools and water on hand, etc.

We went down to the pond which was overgrown on all sides to begin our burn. Growth of Japanese stilt grass, giant ragweed, multiflora rose, and honeysuckle were outcompeting desired native perennial species. By managing the area with fire, we can promote perennial grasses, native flowers and herbs; fruiting berry bushes and canes, fruiting hardwoods, and masting nut trees. We will be creating biochar as a soil amendment which boosts the health of plants and trees. We will begin to reduce the pressure of over aggressive plant growth.

Image courtesy of the Coop at StellaLou Farm

​After we burned what we could around the pond, Zach shared seed he had collected of ramp, Turk’s cap lily, and Virginia bluebells which are perennial, fire resistant plants. We spread the seed on the charred ground. Since Saturday, I have planted two American persimmon trees from Zach’s nursery in this area. We plan to add groundnuts, wild plum, and hickory as well. We intend to follow with another burn next dormant season to make further progress. 

I suggest you take a look at Zach’s Nomad Seed website. Here, you can learn about using fire as a regenerative tool in an article about stilt grass. In that article, you will also find an informative short video of a burn.

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