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Mission Statement:

MoonTree Studios, a ministry of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ, challenges people to experience mindfulness as they fearlessly explore the interconnectedness of art, nature, and the Spirit within.

People of all ages enjoy MoonTree. Picture above is friend and mentor Edith, at age 107.

Vision Statement:

Through participation in MoonTree experiences people awaken to their creative potential and sow the seeds for a more mindful, compassionate and sustainable Earth Community.

Cob Pod

Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ Mission Statement

Called in Baptism to proclaim by our lives and our works the presence of God in the world, we Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ accept the invitation to live a vowed life in community.


We are inspired by Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and Blessed Catherine Kasper, our foundress, to

Empowered by the same Spirit, we women religious commit ourselves to

  • respect and value each person we serve in our diverse ministries
  • stand with the poor and powerless in the search for justice
  • use our talents and resources in response to the emerging needs of Church and society
  • share ministry and nurture leadership in our efforts to bring peace to the world.

Resisting our fears, we dare to accept the challenges of the future. We go forward in hope and joy supported by the bond of community and the strength of prayer.
Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ
American Province
November 1983
Reaffirmed June, 1988

History of MoonTree Studios:

In 1993, naturalist/artist Sister Mary Baird identified a dilapidated poultry barn as a resource. She began turning that resource into a living space and workshop. This space became known as MoonTree Lodge.

The environment proved conducive to creativity. Gardens and prairies were planted. Mary and friends made art.

In 1995 it was decided that a tree house was necessary. For years, peace, art and nature grew, unregulated. Prairies and gardens were planted. The environment attracted more naturalists, artists, and other creative folk.

In March of 2003 the MoonTree Mudheads began creating pottery. Sister Mary got interested in natural building. She built a model of a cob cottage. The idea of a life-sized cottage was considered. It was decided that a smaller cob hermitage (prayer/meditation space) was called for.

A group of interested folks began the foundation of this structure in April of 2005. In June of 2005, a cob-building workshop was held. Work on the cob hermitage continued into the fall.

A leaky roof on MoonTree Lodge required attention and thought about the future of MoonTree. Focus groups began with Sisters and others. The feeling of…as well as the idea for…a MoonTree community emerged.

After several meetings during the year, a MoonTree Elders Group emerged and by January 2007 had stated its Mission and Vision. The MoonTree group was asked to submit its ideas for program or service expansion to the Planning Steering Committee of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ.

With the support of the PHJC, Elders began to consider a new home for MoonTree, to replace the failing poultry barn. After carefully weighing concerns about wasting the existing structure and increasing MoonTree's footprint, the Elders decided to recycle the old building and began planning for a new one.

In early 2008, meetings began with architect Dodd Kattman and in late October 2011 the new MoonTree buildings emerged and welcomed the public...

LEED Certification:


LEED® certification involves meeting certain prerequisites in five areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality. The application process involves lengthy documentation and requires that certain energy efficiency performance standards be met over a period of several years.

See link below for the USGreen Building Council's live web-version of the checklist / scorecard for the MoonTree Studios LEED Gold complex. (--Note the LEED Facts graphic is fashioned to resemble a nutritional label.) Also shown is the official, downloadable 'checklist' from that same webpage which serves to summarize MoonTree's score per credit.


MoonTree LEED® certification


MoonTree honey bees