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Curious about the history of the Deer Park garden? I did some digging. Thank you to Calla (who has been involved with and supportive of the Deer Park garden since day one) and to Aruna (who contributed her talents and energy to the garden as the resident monastic and following). Both provided much of the information that follows. Although each year the garden has had a different working model, it has been lovingly cared for providing a rich environment for growing food, learning and community.
2014 Amma Thanasanti started researching and preparing for a garden at Deer Park (which was then called Shakti Vihara). She named the new venture Garden of the Goddesses.
2015 The first garden was planted with some community involvement. Aruna arrived in July of 2015.
2016 There was a small garden on the property. Thanasanti, Aruna and Calla supplemented the Deer Park garden produce by sharing a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share grown offsite by Westside gardener Richard Mee.
2017-2020 With encouragement from Mee, Aruna expanded the Deer Park garden to become a CSA offering shares to community members in exchange for either a financial donation on a sliding scale or weekly work in the garden. By 2020 the CSA at Deer Park had grown to having 12 members, half the members buying a share and half working for shares. Gardeners at Deer Park managed a greenhouse and chicken coop. Key to the success of the garden from 2018-2020 was Ryan Couch. He always rode his bike to Deer Park and brought a lot of knowledge about permaculture. These principles
were applied to the garden. Aruna also helped found a community-wide effort, the Westside Community Garden. This plot of land with 72 raised beds had the unique gardening model of 25-30 gardeners working cooperatively on the entire garden rather than having ownership of individual plots. These were busy, exciting years both at Deer Park and at the Westside Community garden. Many community members were introduced to gardening and the way that building community and building soil both help to regenerate our society and planet. Ultimately the Deer Park CSA garden model required more time and work than was manageable.
2021 The Deer Park garden scaled way back to include longtime members Calla, Aruna, Cindy and Denise from the Deer Park community and Sukie who was introduced both to gardening and Aruna at the Westside Community garden. Sister Khemanandi who became the resident monastic of Deer Park brought her valuable knowledge as a Master Gardener and became the director.
2022 Sister K led the garden team which included several Westside Community garden members, several Web members and friends. WEB Board president Chris gave gardening a try for a year and now has a carrot bed named after him! Special attention was given to organizing the shed, repairing raised beds and weeding in the labyrinth. We had a bumper collard crop--Sister K's favorite.
2023 This was a great year for lettuce, squash and potatoes among other vegetables. Sister K set up and took on an improved watering system while welcoming and managing the garden team. Future vision is to grow enough food and provide weekly shares to the Westside Food Pantry.
In October of 2023, Web went on retreat at the beautiful Golden Bell Camp and Conference Center in Divide, CO. Participants lodged in a private cabin with a large meditation hall whose floor-to-ceiling windows looked out on the western slope of Pikes Peak. The surrounding woods and mountain views painted the perfect backdrop for exploring Our True Nature.
Aruna Dhammadira shared teachings about the non-duality of our being, and ways to uncover our Buddha nature. Her skillfulness and teachings
creatively wove together resources from a wide range of disciplines which intensified our exploration ofthe retreat theme "Our True Nature". John Moeller led several meditations, both sitting and walking outdoors in the surrounding woodland, to support and illustrate these teachings. Art activities including watercolor painting and collage encouraged participants to create without self-criticism and to engage with mindful awareness. Interactive inquiries allowed for the investigation of our inner critics and playmates alike with lightness and good humor.
Giving Tuesday is an opportunity for people around the world to use their individual power of generosity to support their communities. Kindly consider Web of Connection in your end of the year gift giving. Many needs have arisen at Deer Park due to higher rent and utility costs, online expenses, ground maintenance, and admin supplies. Many thanks to the number of sangha participants who donate their time and extraordinary
effort to WEB's mission and to promote the teachings of the Buddha. We encourage you to contribute so we may all make a difference in creating a community whose wish is to live in a world with less conflict and more connection. Clicking on the Tuesday Giving image will direct you to our support page on the website.
We see community as the catalyst and crucible for positive change in the world. When we come together to listen to each other's experience, we gain the kind of understanding that helps build bridges and friendships in a society that has become deeply fragmented. As we work together for a common goal, we accomplish much more than we could on our own and demonstrate the power of synergy and cooperation.
Where Everyone Belongs
Sharing the merit of our practice with all beings who are suffering, especially those who are affected by loss of a loved one from war.