Long-Range Vision for Sanctuary

We would like to open the Sanctuary during the summer months for education programs, starting in 2024 for just some day camps and then progressing to overnight week camps and/or 3 day overnight camps as well.  Our camps will be immersion type camps, offering horse and animal care, planting of our organic garden, picking blackberries then making jams & pies, tending to chickens and possibly bees and going on wildlife hikes to identify native plants and animal tracks. We will build into this some really fun games and other activities as well.

We may offer training and boarding services at some point. We may expand our hay field to 30 or 40 acres. We may build another house to be used as a conference and retreat center (this would be funded by ED Karin Wagner through sale of a personal property). The house would serve as the focal point and kitchen and we would setup temporary tents etc. It would be surrounded by a huge deck overlooking the pastures.

We have discovered so much about the property that was unseen. Unseen because so much of it was covered in thick blackberry bushes. We have torn mountains of blackberries out and still have mountains left! There will always be a good supply of berries at the Sanctuary and we like the wall of bushes that shields us from the main road & in a few other places as well.

Our fencing project will fence just three large pastures initially. This is so we can reconfigure the remaining land as we see the Sanctuary develop. We are currently aiming to have no more than 20 horses for the near term future.

Barn Area:
The barn area will be leveled for additional parking and trailer access. We will install a round pen in the current covered hay barn and build a mare motel on its perimeter so horses housed there can look into the fields and see their friends.

We are in the process of taking down all stalls in the old barn. Because of years of manure left in stalls the floor boards have rotted and all footing would have had to have been replaced. However, there is excellent wood to be salvaged there and most of it will be used to build picnic tables and other items. The old barn is covered on 4 sides instead of just a roof so it is better suited for storing hay and that will be its new use.

We cleaned up around the barn and had 24 tons of gravel delivered to put around the barn for the winter and to build a trailer pad as our farrier Joseph has recently moved onto the property. We are grateful that Joseph has joined us. The barn and hay barn area are very far from the house and near the road and we needed to apply another level of security.

After tearing out blackberries near the hay barn and water pump house we discovered a hitching rail, yay!!! and a place we can put an adjoining wash rack.

Main Arena:
We will eventually rehab the main arena and install new footing. This will involve a lot of grunt work so hoping we can develop this into a community project. We also discovered 3 paddocks completely covered in blackberry bushes adjacent to the arena that we will clear.

Potential Pond:
Sarah discovered an area that seemed to be surrounded by cattails but guess what???  Yes it’s completely covered in blackberries as well. After gaining some access she did discover it was a pond. Next year’s project is to clear that and restore the pond. Sarah’s ducks will be very grateful for that! In addition to our horses, we will have the ducks transferred, chickens and five goats. We plan on getting a couple of mini donkeys as well from a nearby donkey rescue.

River Access:
As mentioned the property abuts the North Fork of the Russian River on the back end. However, access is blocked by, big surprise, massive amounts of blackberry bushes. You may have noticed a recurring theme here LOL. There is an area that is a bit easier to access and with some machete work we discovered we have river access to an area that holds a lovely sand and gravel beach. We will take some of our reclaimed lodge poles for hand rails and wood for steps leading down.

Main House Expansion of Front Yard
We will remove the blackberries in the front and relocate the rose bushes to a new fence line. Our goal is to build raised beds for organic vegetables and expand the area adjacent with more fruit trees.

We may keep bees as well for the pollination of the property and it will also give us a reason to plant a multitude of wildflowers.

Main House:
The main house is slowly being cleaned and restored thanks to the hard work of Sarah, Phil and a few reliable friends. We may need to replace the roof next year. If so, we will add solar panels at the same time in our goal of being as self sustainable as possible.

We are confident that this plan honors Helen Johnson’s legacy. Helen loved her summer camps & teaching kids. She also believed in repurposing and leaving a soft imprint as well as respecting nature & all living things. We are proudly fulfilling her legacy. We know our efforts will continue to serve the community at large as well.

Karin WagnerDecember 14, 20231 comment

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  • Delrene SimsMay 5, 2024 at 7:44 pm

    What a beautiful spot. Heaven on earth

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