An ambitious nature preserve and intentional community


I had a great first day in San Antonio. Checked out of my hotel this morning and headed out for a leisurely ride northwest of downtown to the house of my new Warmshowers hosts. I stopped for lunch at an outpost of a local vegan chain, Project Pollo, and enjoyed a “chicken” Caesar wrap. Then I biked around a nearby lake at Woodlawn Lake Park. When I got to the house, I was greeted by a friendly young couple and their friendly Pomeranian, Joey. I got settled in, and then headed out to the house of a local Servas host, Debbie, who had kindly agreed to drive me to a destination about 30 miles north of town.

On the way to her house, I passed through a beautiful nature park, Brackenridge, and happened upon a man walking the path I was cycling. (Hi, Carlos!) He recognized my bike as a folding one, and we got to talking about bike touring. In his youth, he had biked partway across the country, beginning in New York. I was running late, so we couldn’t chat long, but it was cool to bump into a kindred traveling spirit, if only briefly, on my first day in town.

Then I biked the rest of the way to Debbie’s place. Turned out her car was a Tesla! It was fun to ride in it; I had only been in a Tesla once before. We shared some good conversation in the car, and after a wrong turn or two, we found the Cibolo Gardens Nature Preserve and Event Center. (Don’t bother googling it; they have a very minimal online presence. It’s a hidden gem, just outside of town!)

The owner, David, met us (along with his two exuberant and adorable large dogs) and gave us a tour. He had purchased this 45-acre parcel about five years ago, from its previous owners, an older couple who had begun creating it about ten years ago (I think—David, please correct me if I’m factually wrong on any of this.)

Forty acres of the land is a nature preserve, surrounded by limestone quarries and residential developments. The land hosts many wild animals, including deer, foxes, snakes, and a wide variety of birds. The remaining five acres is slowly being built into an intentional community of five to six small/tiny houses, as well as a camping (and “glamping”) spot, and site for workshops on topics as wide-ranging as herbal medicine and blacksmithing. (Classes are already being offered.)

They are working to go completely off the utility grid: solar power, composting toilets, rainwater catchment, etc. Cooking is done by propane.

We toured the outdoor kitchen area, indoor classroom, swimming pool/hot tub/hammock area, outdoor tub and shower area, gardening areas, and the sites of several dwellings being completed.

The space also serves as a sort of sanctuary for a number of farm animals, including pigs, chickens, ducks, and rabbits, whom we got to meet. (Photo credit for the pig: Debbie!)

I found the place very inspiring and ambitious. In the next few years, with volunteer help, they will complete the structures and infrastructure, as well as building up more of a web presence to share themselves more accessibly with the public. Already, though, they have campers and glampers (through; educational workshop participants; and researchers from local universities, studying the biodiversity of the area.

I really appreciated the opportunity to tour such a unique place. (Thanks again, David!) I wish Cibolo Gardens all the best, and hope that other people around the country and world will be inspired to set up similar properties.

After the tour, Debbie and I headed back into town and enjoyed a nice outdoor dinner at Vegan Avenue.

My time in San Antonio is off to a great start, and I’m looking forward to more adventures tomorrow!

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