At Turtle Lake Refuge,
Katrina Blair matches her
enthusiasm for teaching with
a mission to celebrate the
connection between personal health and wild lands.
Blair's philosophy is to inspire others with her work and always to make it fun. Growing up in Durango, she developed an affinity for the wild places that surrounded her. She studied biology at Colorado College, writing her senior thesis about the wild, edible and medicinal plants of the San Juan Mountains. She directed Outdoor Pursuits at FLC before obtaining a master's degree in holistic health education at John F. Kennedy University in Orinda, California.
Turtle Lake Refuge was founded in 1998, initially as an effort to protect the land surrounding Turtle Lake. The organization now is a force behind local education about the value of wild lands and the plants that can be gathered and grown on them.
Blair has been a participant in the local Farm to School effort since its inception, providing classroom education at area schools and hosting field trips. Her education efforts include growing and harvesting at her Rocky Mountain Retreat Center and at the organic farm school near Turtle Lake. There, one can find two greenhouses, fruit trees and honeybees in production. In the classroom, she invites children to become active participants in food preparation, using a bicycle- powered blender to whip up smoothies, making fruit leather or creations such as wild weed mint balls to showcase the edible nature of many wild plants.
This year, she plans to spend time with the school nutrition staff, directing cooks on ways to use the granola, microgreens and sprouts she supplies for breakfast and salad bars. Turtle Lake Refuge also will be providing lunch once a week to Animas High students. She also teaches classes at FLC's continuing education program, including topics such as beekeeping and the gathering of wild plants.
The Local Wild Life Café, located at the Retreat Center on East Third Avenue, serves benefit lunches on Tuesdays and Fridays. There, diners can enjoy wild harvested and living foods such as thistle lemonade, cattail dock bread and pinon pine fudge. Lunch guests are surrounded by shelves of greens and sprouts being grown for the meals.
Blair also is involved in efforts to reduce the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Grassroots, an organic lawn-care company, is in partnership with the City of Durango to experiment with methods such as compost tea to promote healthy lawn growth, which has allowed Brookside Park to remain chemical-free.
Blair's mission is to promote quality of life and health, and she believes the best way to convey her message is to provide inspiration.
"People develop a heartfelt interest, and feel they have a stake in protecting wild lands when guided by their own passions," said Blair.
Find Turtle Lake Refuge products at the Durango Farmers Market, Nature's Oasis, Durango Natural Foods, Zuma Natural Foods, Cyprus Cafe, Cosmopolitan and the Strater Hotel. Call Turtle Lake Refuge at 247-8395 or visit turtlelakerefuge.org.
Marje Cristol owns Linnaea Farm
in Durango and sells cut flowers and goat-milk cheeses. She also serves on
the Durango Farmers Market board.
Reach her at 946-2712 or marje@LinnaeaFarm.com.