Belonging to Place

Members of the Collective linking arms under the magnolia tree

The Magnolia

A circle of trunks gathered around the mother tree; an oasis of shade and a soft carpet of leaves; a playground for adventurous climbers; a shelter for mosses and lichens, songbirds and ants and mycelium; and so much more… it is no wonder this magnificent tree has been the namesake for this place long before our Collective sprouted here!

The Land

Garden bed with a purple flower and mints

Our beloved magnolia is one among a host of trees on the patch of land we caretake. The front yard is full of young fruit trees, with a patchwork of flower, herb, and mushroom beds nestled between them. Behind the house are prolific pecan and hazelnut trees (and equally prolific squirrels!), berry bushes and grape vines, and pine woods beckoning to the south.

We are dedicating our first year on this land to nourishing the soil and our garden allies with cover crops and sheet mulching, flowers and herbs, and mycelia. We look forward to expanding our gardens in coming years, and sharing both the joy of tending and the harvest: food, medicine, flowers, seeds, mutual thriving.

We also acknowledge the intrinsic value of the land beyond what it produces for our benefit. We strive to listen, pay attention, and co-create with the land rather than merely impose our vision on it.

The House & Off-Grid Systems

We give great gratitude to the many individuals who have dedicated their skills and countless hours of hard work towards transforming what was once a dilapidated house into a beloved home, model for ecological living, and community gathering space.

Wall of house wrapped in strawbales

The original cinder block walls are now wrapped in strawbales, and cellulose blown into the attic. Together, these provide excellent insulation and greatly reduce the energy needed to keep the house a comfortable temperature. We are currently in the process of installing alternative energy systems, based on the DC microgrid developed at Living Energy Farm. These systems will provide for all of our household energy needs — including lighting, charging electronics, meal preparation, refrigeration, heating and cooling, hot water, and more — without depending on fossil fuels and grid power. We are documenting the process in hopes of inspiring and empowering others in their own transition towards ecological living.

We also continue to work on turning the house into a beautiful and accessible space, both for those living at Magnolia and for the wider web of neighbors and friends that we are eager to host for events.

Local Community & Context

The Magnolia Collective is located on ancestral Monacan land, right at the edge of the town of Louisa, Virginia. We are a few short blocks from Main Street, right across the street from the Art Center, Town Hall, and Historical Society. We also benefit greatly from our close proximity to a thriving network of intentional communities, and many wonderful farmers, herbalists, educators, and activists in the area. We are transplants here, and always humbled and thrilled to discover more of the amazing people and initiatives already present around us.