Community Oilseed

Oilseed Revisited

We opened the door and peered in at what had once been a hub of activity, our old kitchen, all tore up and abandoned.

Once upon a time we lived at the end of Bill Thomas Road in a rented trailer we called Camelina. There were two other houses nearby with enough bedrooms for another ten people. We all ate dinner together once a week, we made group decisions at monthly meetings, and we called ourselves Oilseed Community.

The Oilseed Community mail box today.

We lived at Oilseed for two years before moving four miles down the road in December of 2009. Eventually, the other Oilseeders moved on and the land owners took possession of the houses.

Early on the third Sunday of August, we parked at the end of Bill Thomas Road and walked into what had once been a thriving community, ready to turn and run if we encountered squatters.

Bob used to mow this land and now here I am twelve years later, walking across the overgrowth with our old home behind me.

Potato season, 2009

In addition to mowing, Bob grew potatoes.

Mr. Mushroom – July, 2009

He grew loads of other vegetables, including shitake mushrooms.

Camelina and our Ford Escort, Christine, with Mrs. Claus, November, 2007

This is what our trailer looked like shortly after we moved in.

And here is what it looked like last month.

Camille at Camelina’s back door, August 2021

Camelina rests on its wheels, steps and occupants gone, a ghost house, windows open, an empty shell swirling with memories of friendship and community.

Haruka and Adah doing cartwheels down the hill at Camelina – May, 2008

I think back to when our younger, more athletic friends did cartwheels across the lawn, back when Camelina had steps, and vinyl skirting to hide its wheels.

The old green countertop ain’t what it used to be – August, 2021

We opened the door and peered in at what had once been a hub of activity, our old kitchen, all tore up and abandoned.

Making Kentucky Fried Tofu – January, 2008
Cooking for Sunday potluck with my delightful friend Haruka – May, 2008

Nostalgia washes over us as we remember the good times we had at our old kitchen counter.

Our bedroom windows and the blue boat with a hole in its side. I remember lying on the other side of that blown-out screen listening to a whippoorwill one dark moon night.I also remember the day we decided to remove the garbage from the boat. Some of us thought we might fix it and go out on the lake, and some of us just wanted the trash to go away.

The lower house – November, 2007

This was the lower house, where Ian, Jessi, Greg, Adah, and Jack lived.

The Dive Team

Tim, Jack, Adah, and Link went dumpster diving at night and brought back embarrassing amounts of food.

Ian and Greg prepping dinner in the lower house

We cooked.

Potluck at the lower house


We ate.

Potluck at Camelina – September, 2009

We rotated Sunday potluck between houses, so every third week the gang gathered at our place.

Jessi and Ian and baby Davin

Jessi and Ian made a baby! One birth, no deaths – that’s a pretty good run.

Sharon, Jessica, Camille, Jessi, and baby Davin

We went for walks. (Dana ran ahead and took this photo)

Matt and Dana at Shakori – October, 2008

We went to music Festivals! Shakori’s Grassroots Music Festival is one of the reasons Bob and I moved to this area.

Matt was the Mayor of Oilseed and he kept us all on the same page and working together. When someone new wanted to move in, he took them from house to house to introduce them and later we would decide as a group whether or not they were a good fit for Oilseed. I don’t recall saying “No,” to anyone.

Former site of the lower houser – August, 2021

And now there is an empty field where the lower house once stood.

The road – December, 2007

This was the road from Bill Thomas Road to the upper house.

The road as it looks today

The road looks so much the same now that I half expected to meet one of our friends with a covered dish or a musical instrument.

The upper house – September, 2009
The whole gang at the upper house – May, 2008

We called the old farm house the upper house because Camelina and the lower house were downhill. This is where Matt, Dana, Link, Jessica, and Simon lived, where we came for potluck when their turn came, and where we met for our monthly pow wows.

This is what’s left of the upper house today.

It appears to have burned down, whether accidentally or intentionally. Gone, too is the little horse barn where some Oilseeders kept chickens.

I’d like to say, “Easy come, easy go,” but instead I’ll say that we breathe life into the places we touch. Cherish today’s energy because life is fleeting and you cannot turn back the clock.

The Oilseed Gang (Camille, Bob, Dana, Matt, Adah, Jessica, and Simon) at a June wedding in 2018

But all is not lost. Five years later, Oilseed lives. Anchored no longer by infrastructure and space, the community we shared flourishes in our hearts. We feel it when we see each other at weddings, or at the gym, or when we check in virtually each month.


A history of Oilseed in ten chapters

(see video in “Settlers of Oilseed” and “We’re Not Amish”)










Death of Oilseed

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.

5 replies on “Oilseed Revisited”

Awe that’s sad. I hate seeing places like that you poured time and effort into just gone to waste. But you still have the friends and memories. Those will last a lifetime!

It is sad to see former homes crumble, but as you say – it’s friendships that make a place, and those memories will never die.

Thank you Camille and Bob for exploring our old home. This was such a formative time in my life and the friendships we all made were lasting. I don’t miss that blue boat at all though…

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