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Treasure Lake is a 60-acre, dynamic learning environment with a working homestead, managed forest, serene backdrops, and centerpiece 12-acre lake. It is located in the rugged hills of Northern Kentucky, within the tristate of Cincinnati, Ohio. It comprises a major branch of the Taylor Creek watershed, just a stone’s throw from the backwaters of the Ohio River. It is only 30 minutes from Downtown Cincinnati, OH and Covington, KY. It is accessed easily by the I-275 loop highway and is only 17 minutes from CVG airport. It is located just outside the small rural village of Petersburg, KY, which was once a booming frontier town and set on top of 10,000-year legacy of inhabitancy from Native Americans.
Hills and hollows with varying ages of forest flank the lake. Lawn has been converted to orchard gardens and pastures. Herbivores help manage succession and add fertility along with meat and egg chickens. It sits in the most biodiverse region in the whole temperate world and offers heaps of ecological lessons to be learned. The property features the following businesses:
- Educational Center
- Permaculture Farming and Foraging, Homesteading
- Organic Integrated Orchard Garden/ Field Nursery
- Edible Landscaping HQ
The diversity of vegetation, topography, and land use makes for an interesting context in which to operate from. Some areas are steep and deeply wooded while others are flatter and more open. In essence, the event rental area and buildings blend into farm whilst campgrounds blend into foraging areas. The lake is never far away and affords recreation opportunities. There is a past legacy and a future vision.
History and Work Done
What has been a life long dream, to take on the family business called Crouch’s Treasure Lake, has happened and evolved. My grandparents, Everett Lee and Mary Carol Crouch, started this project/small business in a rural area in 1983 when I was just three years old. It was a very successful pay fishing lake and bar at one time. After years of ups and downs with the property, a development plan was created over the years as my grandparents age crept higher and eventually became ancestors. The next generation owns it now but we as a collective, all with different roles and participation, steward the business and land in varying fashions.
Since 2001, I have been stewarding the forests through clearing campsites, working with invasives, and doing wildlife stand improvements, which builds of my ecology degree officially titled Fish and Wildlife Management. Essentially, I am working through the edge principle to bring more niches to both the wildlife and human yields. I was taught this in my original degree and in my permaculture course in 2005.
Furthermore, the main work on the property since the dams rebuilding in 2001, has been managing our vast forest resource bringing forth access, recreation, and foraging possibilities. It has been mostly the managing of zone 3/4 broad-acre, native food forest; rich with patches of Paw Paw (Asimina triloba) and Spicebush in the understory and Oaks, Hickories, Maples, and Black Walnuts in the overstory. Integrating goats and hair sheep into these landscapes periodically is something we continue to push the edge on to restore more balance in the forest.
After moving back here full time in 2019, more agricultural endeavors were taken on. From nursery to tree crop plantings to animal systems development, it has become much agriculturally productive while the forest continues to grow. New enterprises or homestead ventures continue to scale whether its maple syrup production, meat birds, or staple crops.
Existing Permaculture Elements include:
- Extensive Native Food Forest actively managed for biodiversity, especially paw paw, spicebush, and sugar maple (maple syrup making)
- Numerous Food Forest/ Perennial Hedgerow Plantings
- Integrated Orchard Gardens with multiple forms of production
- Ongoing Development of a Permaculture Campground utilizing livestock
- Mushroom production
- Composting: Hot and Vermi
- Regenerative Animal Husbandry of goats, chickens, ducks, and sheep
- Medicinal herb biodiversity plantings
- Fish and Wildlife Management techniques for accelerating succession
- Permaculture Nursery
- Host site for educational programs from the Winter weekend PDC to plant and forage walks
- Cob Oven for earthen wood fired cooking
Treasure Lake Future Goals
Future plans include further developing the property with an integrated set of businesses that leverage the natural capitol, take advantage of the proximity to the city and wilds, and embodies the ethics of permaculture within the local movement. Overall, it is a place to heal the land and water and learn whilst also simply being. It creates homes for domesticated and wild animals, it allows people to paddle the lake waters and view the waterfall, it gives a temporary home for tourists, and it allows us to have a place of celebration. Foods are produced to contribute to the local foods movement and serve as an educational outlet for stewarding these amazing forest and field resources within this unique climate and ecosystem. It houses an ecovillage, ripe for interconnection, this social ecology reflective of the biodiverse forest and its inner workings. It starts with a vision!