At Blackwood Educational Land Institute, the focus is on connecting people to the interconnections found in the natural world

Cath Conlon is on a mission to teach people about the interconnectedness of all living things. Not a small goal, to be sure, but Cath’s vision is clear.

The land on which Blackwood Educational Land Institute operates has been in Cath’s family for generations, but it was in need of revitalization after years of cotton farming. In 1990, when her son, Cade, was young, she brought his class to the farm to help build a garden. Over the years, as Cade grew and changed schools, his classmates followed along and came to the ranch to help work the land and learn about farming.

Soon, the project evolved to encompass a 5,000-square foot house built of straw bales that allowed school groups to stay on the ranch for extended experiences. The Blackwood Nature Camp was launched and two high tunnels added to the land, offering 11,000 square feet of climate-controlled cultivation. The Gathering Hall followed, which includes a commercial kitchen and space for private events and classes.

Everything that Cath and her son focus on at this incredibly special place goes back to teaching people about “resilient agriculture” through modeling a closed-loop system.