Building healthy communities in Montana
Since Bozeman was first homesteaded, the site of Bozeman Cohousing has been a small farm. A large animal veterinarian and his wife most recently owned this 5.3 acre property where they grazed cattle and horses. As Bozeman Cohousing moves towards development of an intentional community, the tradition of the land will continue to include goats, chickens and shared gardens. The wood from the old fences weathered by years of exposure, will, too. The architects plan to repurpose the materials as part of the common house in our new neighborhood.
It takes extreme care and time to dismantle the boards so they can be repurposed by removing rusty nails and stripped bolts. Bozeman Cohousing members have been incredibly grateful for the help of teen volunteers who have come to Montana from around the country to learn about sustainable farming and ranching, permaculture, and Western life. Much of the learning includes the hands-on process of volunteer work, and the kids have pitched in to help at the cohousing property removing invasive weeds and carefully taking down old fences. They have also had the opportunity to hang out with the goats on site, watch a milking demonstration, and learn about the philosophies of cohousing.
The teenagers came to Gallatin Valley as part of the organization VISIONS Service Adventures, which normally runs teen programs around the world, but cancelled everything this summer due to the pandemic. VISIONS is now running a singular program here in southwestern Montana, where the home office is also based. They implemented COVID protocols, which means that kids sleep in their own individual tents at a farm outside of town, everyone was tested for the virus, the group was divided into pods, and masks were worn for the first two weeks.
Volunteer work has also taken on a new form for VISIONS, which always focused on construction and labor projects in under-resourced communities around the world. This year the teenagers must be socially distanced from the community, but they’ve nonetheless been able to help with outdoor Food Bank projects, the Learning Garden at Story Mill Park, farming and gardening, and the cohousing site.