Community Oilseed

Death of Oilseed

This may be the last time I write about Oilseed Community. For years we thought Oilseed would die when the bulldozers came but that isn’t what happened.

In 2001, when the original lease was negotiated, it opened up much-needed affordable housing and provided a revenue stream to support the broader community we call the Bubble. Since then, Oilseed Community has been home to college students, farm and fuel interns, and people who worked at The Abundance Foundation, Piedmont Biofuels and Chatham Marketplace. Oilseed provided a soft landing portal into the Bubble.

Abandoned houses on land awaiting development became community housing and revenue. It was a triple win. The developer was happy. The tenants were happy. And the Bubble flourished.

Bob and I moved to Oilseed in November of 2007 after approval by the community. Because Oilseed was more about community than cheap rooms, we were screened like everyone else. We were very grateful to move into the trailer, which we cleaned up and renamed “Camelina.” On many an afternoon, it wasn’t unusual to open our door to find see either Matt or Greg and the fresh, new face of a prospective tenant.

During the two years we lived in Camelina, we formed lasting friendships with many wonderful people including Simon and Jessica, Link, Matt, Dana, Greg, Kathryn, Jack and Adah. Revenue from Oilseed rents fueled the bubble, helping pay for Biofuels Coop remediation projects and helping Lyle and Tami keep their many philanthropic projects afloat.

None of the original tenants live at Oilseed today. We bought Trouts Farm. Greg moved to Michigan. Simon and Jessica bought a home in Durham, Link in Siler City, Matt in Bynum. We all fledged.

Although we know many of the new Oilseeders, I have yet to meet them all. Most of them are snugly plugged into the bubble. But sadly, the Oilseed revenue stream that used to benefit the bubble is over, dammed up by the tenants themselves. In a bold move, the new crop of Oilseeders re-negotiated their lease with the developers.

When I first heard about this, I assumed they had discussed their intentions with the current lease holders. Given that assumption, I accepted that they were taking their destiny into their own hands. Empowering themselves.

It sounded like a positive move except for the part about removing all financial support from the bubble. Making payments instead to the developer when they weren’t asking for money seemed like a waste. But hey, if this was the new direction of Oilseed, who was I to protest?

Come to find out, no one knew except for the tenants themselves. It was a surprise to everyone else. The bold move began looking more like a mutiny.

We all assumed Oilseed would die at the hands of the bulldozers one day. None of us could have guessed it would have come at the hands of the community itself.


By Camille Armantrout

Camille lives with her soul mate Bob in the back woods of central North Carolina where she hikes, gardens, cooks, and writes.

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