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Monastery of Saint Gertrude

Abstract The Benedictine Sisters of Idaho adopted a Philosophy of Land Use in 1993 to guide the maintenance of the grounds of the Monastery of St. Gertrude, 1,400 acres in a section of the ancient homeland of the Nez Perce Native American people. The Philosophy calls the Sisters to care for land that was entrusted to them by God, to live harmoniously with the rest of creation, and to promote reverential and responsible stewardship. In adopting the Philosophy of Land Use, the Sisters committed to: adopting an environmentally-friendly lifestyle, participating in ecological healing efforts, educating themselves about ecology, balancing ecological land management with profitable land use, and maintaining a spirit of reverence and an environment of peace for visitors and guests. One thousand acres of the Monastery’s woodlands are certified as a Stewardship Forest under the Idaho Department of Lands’ Forest Stewardship Program. The forest is carefully maintained under a management plan that includes selective harvesting and thinning, protecting wildlife habitat, planting seed varieties best suited to the land, and responsible resource use. The remaining acreage includes an organic garden and orchard that supply the monastery and retreat center with fruit, vegetables, herbs, and flowers, as well as crop and pasture land leased to a local farmer.
Religion Christianity
(Roman Catholic)
Geographic Location United States of America
(Cottonwood, Idaho)
Duration of Project 1993–Present

In 1990, the Monastery of St. Gertrude appointed a Stewardship of the Land Committee to explore the community’s relationship with and responsibility for, its 1,400 acres of land; to compose a long-range land management plan; and to articulate a statement about land use that would be acceptable to all members of the community. This process took three years. In 1993, the Philosophy of Land Use was adopted. One year later, the Sisters succeeded in getting 1,000 acres of their land certified as a Stewardship Forest and developed a comprehensive forest management plan designed to balance sustainable productivity with wildlife habitat protection and aesthetic pleasure. In 1998, the Monastery became a member of the American Tree Farm System. It received the Idaho Tree Farm of the Year award in 2001 and was a western region finalist in the 2002 national competition. The Monastery’s recent “Plant a Forest” campaign raised $35,000 to plant 70,000 trees between 1999–2002. Another 12,000 seedlings were planted in the spring of 2004.

Mission Statement

Philosophy of Land Use
“We recognize our sacred responsibility to reverence and care for our land and to make proper use of the resources it provides. In order to live in harmony with the Earth and to promote responsible stewardship we commit ourselves:

  1. To choosing a lifestyle that will give witness to our love of the earth

  2. To joining with other people who are endeavoring to heal the wounds that have been inflicted upon our planet

  3. To providing ourselves with ongoing education in ecology so that our decisions regarding the use of the land will respect the balance and interdependence found in nature

  4. To utilizing the land for financial profit in a responsible manner—always seeking to maintain the quality of soil, air, water, and the healthy balance of animal and plant life

  5. To keeping in mind that the atmosphere of peace and prayerfulness provided by our surroundings is to be shared with all who come to seek God with us.”
Partner Organizations American Tree Farm System
Idaho Department of Lands
Idaho Forest Owners Association
Northwest Management, Inc.
Long-Term Goals None Listed
Bibliography None Listed
Additional Research Resources None Listed
Contact Information Monastery of St. Gertrude
Sr. Carol Ann Wassmuth, OSB
HC 3 Box 121
Cottonwood, ID 83522–9408
Ph:        208.962.3224
Fax:       208.962.7212
Email:   .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)