A developing intentional community in SE Arizona
The History of Alysion Acres
Earliest archeological records indicate that the area was inhabited by Clovis man as noted by nearby evidence of a wooly mammoth hunt, and in more recent history by the Mogollon and Hohokam native American tribes. Numerous pottery shards and other artifacts have been found on the property. Mexico laid claim to the land and it became part of the Boquillous Ranch (map). The river used to flow year-round and was heavily populated with beaver before they were extirpated by trappers in the 1880's. The USA acquired parts of AZ and New Mexico in the Gadsden Purchase of 1854 .
Mormons (AKA Latter Day Saints or LDS) settled the St. David area in 1877 and continue to be a large constituent of the population. They constructed an irrigation ditch system that is still in use today. During the Tombstone heyday many of the LDSs supplied the residents and transients with fruits and vegetables. Wits End was, at one time, part of the stage coach/wagon road to Tombstone. At one point the upper portion of the property was terraced and used by some enterprising farmer for vegetable production, probably setting up a stand along the roadway or hauling produce to Tombstone. Alysion Acres is located 5 miles south of St. David (11 miles north of Tombstone), between the San Pedro River and Hwy 80, with water rights to the St. David irrigation ditch.
An estimated 90% of Arizona's riparian areas have been irrevocably destroyed. The San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area ( NCA) was formed in 1988 to protect what remains of the riparian wetlands. Non-native tamarisk control has been implemented and beaver have been reintroduced.
I moved from Grants Pass, Oregon to Lompoc, California to care for my aging father, where I met Eric. We married and have a son who is about to turn 18. My father passed away in 1994 and his house was sold to settle the estate. Eric's parents had bought property in Arizona and Eric wanted to move there as well. He loves the desert landscape but I grew up near the ocean, then lived for 14 years in Oregon with rivers and pine forests. We compromised. I sold my Oregon properties and we found some land in Arizona that has water (backs up to the seasonal San Pedro River and has a year-round artesian well which streams to feed 4 small ponds), planted a couple of pine trees, bought a sailboat to enjoy the ocean when possible, and spent several summers on the water in San Diego.
I visited this available property and fell in love with the view across the San Pedro River Valley to the Whetstone Mountains, the Milky Way visible in the night sky, the tranquility, and the pink and purple of the Dragoon Mountains at sunset. I saw the potential of creating a unique haven there. We did a real estate trade for the original undeveloped 15 acres of property in 1994 and bought an additional 3 acres from our neighbor the following year. We had the artesian well drilled, installed 2 septic tanks, moved on three mobile homes, built the addition, developed 3 RV spaces, planted some fruit trees, built a garage/ workshop / storage room, fenced a yard, started a garden, dug the ponds, etc. all financed through an equity loan against a house we have in town.
When we bought the property there was not a bird or reptile to be found due to predation by feral cats. The entire acreage had been overgrazed first by 20 plus sheep then by a herd of horses. There was not one blade of grass and the top soil had eroded, leaving a cracked, caked layer of clay and sand. Step one was to trap and remove the feral cats. We put out bird feeders. We enrolled with Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) which assisted us with fencing, mulching, and reseeding the area twice with native grasses. Very slowly the soil is recovering and grasses are growing, although there are still some areas that need a third application. Birds, reptiles, and wildlife rebounded.
Today and immediate plans currently underway
Four years ago we moved to Tucson for our son to get his schooling needs met. He now has the credits to graduate from community college, has a job, will turn 18 in November, and plans to move to Chicago. Meanwhile, tenants did not keep up the garden areas and our most recent tenant brought 5 cats to the property when they claimed no pets on their rental application. The cats did over $5,000 in damage to the carpet and paneling. We were in the process of restoration work (new doors, laminate flooring, drywall, paint, tiling the bathroom, stainless steel sinks, tiling the kitchen counter) when we decided that it would be the perfect time to redo the entire place and realize our dream of establishing an intentional community. Our septic tank was rated for 5 bedrooms, so we are turning the small bedroom into a kitchenette and have walled off the main kitchen/ laundry area for shared community use. The connecting library/ office addition will get minor modifications, the 2nd bathroom and bedroom will soon have a new face of drywall. The 2nd kitchen will temporarily become a community room, and will be converted into a studio after our new community room is constructed. We will soon add a solarium to create a hallway connecting the rooms with the existing library and planned community room.
With the addition of steel arches and screen we will have a lovely enclosed courtyard which can be accessorized with a fountain, stream, pond, dwarf fruit trees, etc. Add some finches and koi and this will become a taste of paradise.
The 2nd living room will be converted into a studio, and the remaining bedroom will also get the royal treatment of new doors, drywall, flooring, and paint. We will be doing this little by little as the community grows and we have the funds to complete the work. Eventually the plan is to stucco the entire exterior to enhance the appearance and add to the insulation of the interior. Patio areas can be enclosed with screen for bug-free evening enjoyment of the outdoors.
We are encouraging free-thinking pioneer types to join us and assist with the design and further shaping of this unique facility. Anyone with the skills, and choosing to do so, can work off the majority of their rent for many months to come plus mold their accommodations to suit their taste and needs.
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