News from the Village
by Debbie Lienhart
Greetings from Earthaven Ecovillage, where we’re enjoying the clear colors of the autumn foliage and sky, the feel of cooler temperatures, and the sounds of acorns plunking on the metal roofs and valley floor.
The Forest Garden Learning Center has a new patio on the north side of the greenhouse. The new space is designed to serve multiple functions, such as a fruit stand, rest area, and welcome space for courses. Melissa Thurmond led the project, with help from friends.
The OFF the GRIDdle Eco-Café is taking shape near the Council Hall with the arrival of a pair of shipping containers that will form the kitchen and dining area. The café is being developed as a private venture by Suchi Lathrup, Lance Penley, Liz Diaz, and redmoonsong. The café team plans to have the kitchen ready for a New Year’s party. Follow them on their Facebook page:
In farm news, on September 15, Imani Farm’s cow, LC (Large Cow), gave birth to a heifer calf named Sassy Mae, and on October 8, Yellowroot Farm’s sow, LaFonda, gave birth to 11 healthy, red-headed piglets.
by Jonathan Swiftcreek
2010 was a year of delicious bounty. Natural factors such as the intensity of last winter along with the mildness and wetness of the following spring gave us fruit galore. In personal orchards, on farms, and in the wild, we had our pick of tasty fruits from May until even now in late October. Strawberries, juneberries, Nanking cherries, blueberries, jostaberries, blackberries, wineberries, currants, gooseberries, figs, muscadines and scuppernongs, apples, persimmons! Yummmmm!!!
Many folks supplemented their own garden produce with a share in Yellowroot Farm’s CSA. The CSA provided 15 shares a week for 22 weeks. Shares included beets, carrots, lettuce, escarole, turnips and cucumbers in the early season and later included tomatoes, okra, peppers, potatoes, garlic, more greens, and plenty of sauerkraut and kimchee (spicy, fermented, Asian sauerkraut).
Bee Happy Farm, run by Marjorie Vestal in the Bellavia neighborhood has been very busy establishing a large thornless blackberry orchard which produced enough fruit this year for mead-making. In addition, Marjorie has been implementing a sizeable garden on her homesite including mushroom logs, herbs galore, more fruit, and a small pond.
Gateway Farm’s sheep flock produced 30 fleeces, 8 pelts, and 300-350 pounds of lamb. Unseen to customers, but another high value crop, Gateway also produced 1500, 50-pound bales of hay from an off-land lease nearby. Fall is the annual stock-up-on-squash time. Gateway raised 2000 pounds of a variety of squash and 100 pounds of onions. We’re looking forward to fresh and as-local-as-it-gets turkeys for the holidays.
Many villagers got their pasture-raised and free-range eggs from Imani Farm this year. Pictured to the right are new chicks (came in the mail but being raised by a momma hen who adopted them upon arrival.) Imani also grazed their upper pasture with their second year steers. In the lower field Imani grew plenty of blueberries and about 1000 pounds of tomatoes (see our blog entry).
Jonathan Swiftcreek is an avid food producer, preserver and forager, always open to learning new forms of reverence towards food. He is a new member of Earthaven as well as the Village Terraces Cohousing Neighborhood and a participant in many of Earthaven's farms. He and his partner, eli will be first-time parents in April.
Davene Wasser interviews Suchi Lathrop
Suchi has been living at Earthaven since 2002. She began searching for community after her partner died, hoping to find social connections and a cooperative living situation. Now, eight years later, Suchi is intensely involved in community life.
Suchi gives tours, is on the visitors’ committee, created the Peace Garden, and has been a leader in social organizing. She also started the Coffee and Trade as well as the weekly happy hour, and helps run the Trading Post. “Hospitality is my passion,” she said. Recently, Suchi became involved in starting a workers’ cooperative to build a code kitchen that can serve guests.
When she’s not busy organizing, Suchi spends her time maintaining her share of the household at Tribal Condo. She also enjoys reading, studying, and walking the land. “If you wanted to imagine a perfect retirement this is pretty close to it,” she said. “As a Quaker, this appeals to me because we live simply here. We are very close to nature.”
Before coming to Earthaven, Suchi was running an Independent Living program for people who were developmentally challenged. She also spent time as a librarian and an electrician. “I wasn’t passionate about any of those jobs,” she said. “If I had it to do over again I’d be a psychotherapist.”
Suchi is currently studying Nonviolent Communication, Body-Centered Psychotherapy, and Zegg Forum. Everywhere she looks there are new opportunities to learn. “This is a beautiful community,” she said. “It’s very diverse and it’s very dynamic. It’s never dull.”
As much as she loves life at Earthaven, Suchi admits that there have been some challenges. “There have been difficult times. The thing about community is that you go through it instead of flying away from it. It’s hard to imagine living anywhere else.”
Davene Wasser came to Earthaven in April 2010 with her son Eli and husband Jamie to simplify her life and live more closely to nature. She is a writer, editor, educator, and artist. After ten years of researching community, Davene is thrilled to be living her dream.
Honoring the Dark Time
by Kailtlin Hetzner
The air is brisk and cool, the leaves turn the beautiful shades of autumn, the summer is gone and the season calls us inward. It is time to prepare for winter—not only physically for the cold but a slowing down in other ways too.
We are approaching Halloween, All Hallows Eve, a cross-quarter holiday between Fall Equinox and Winter Solstice. In many cultures, this is the most sacred of days. All over the world people honor and communicate with the dead at this time, as it is said that the ‘veil between the worlds’ of the living and the dead is at its thinnest.
The Celts celebrated their new year, called Samhain (pronounced “Sow-in”), on the eve of November. They believed the spirits of the dead walked the earth on this night. To protect themselves, people would wear masks or cross-dress to trick the wandering dead.
Trick-or-Treating has its roots in a medieval custom of the British Isles called “souling.” Dressed in masks and costumes, the poor would go about offering prayers to a family’s departed relatives in exchange for soul cakes (little oatcakes or square pieces of bread containing currants) or a handout of apples, nuts, or copper coins. The more gifts they received, the more prayers they would promise to recite to expedite the passage of the deceased souls from limbo to heaven.
As we have grown up disconnected from our ancestors and our grief, many of us have made an effort to incorporate these elements into our lives. To that end, we hold a Samhain Ritual and Ancestor Feast at Earthaven each year. We bring pictures and mementos of our ancestors and beloved dead to the altar. We also bring a potluck dish from our heritage for the feast. While we feast, we give toasts and tell storie s about our ancestors and loved ones who have crossed over.
Of course we also have our share of fun at Halloween! The kids trick-or-treat around the village in a big group and our Halloween costume party is one of the best of the year.
As the days grow darker, we remember that we are in the ‘cauldron’ of the year, the dark time of change, until the sun is reborn at Winter Solstice. Encourage yourself to slow down. See what changes are afoot. As the veil between the worlds grows thinner and thinner, take a look around. Who knows what you’ll see?
Kaitlin Hetzner is a ritual and ceremony leader at Earthaven, organizes special womyn's gatherings under a Red Tent, lends a terrific hand to our office and administrative work, and just became a Full Member!
Halloween, called Samhain (and pronounced “Sow-in”), in the Celtic tradition, is a festive three-day event again!
Here's the schedule:
Costume party at Medicine Wheel House on Friday night, October 29. All ages are invited, so costumes may be more demure than in the past, but heck, y’all, be creative! No reservations are necessary—still, it’s nice if you call to see if anything’s needed: 828 669-0027.
At 8:00 that same evening, there’s a Hallows Labyrinth Meditation. Meet others at the head of the path on Starforest Road and go silently in. Samhain is a time to offer up the old and welcome the new. Bring a token of your journey to leave at the center of the labyrinth.
Trickin’ or Treatin’? On Saturday, October 30, Earthaven children and their friends will come around at dusk looking for tricks or treats. If you’d like to bring your children along, give Karen a call at 828 669-1325.
For many, the highlight of the season is the annual Samhain Ritual and Ancestor Feast. Thanks to Kaitlin and River Otter, this event has gotten lovelier each year. Chanting, circling, honoring the passing away of things and loved ones, we have a gala feast and later a time to toast our personal ancestors and tell sweet stories about them. The event takes place on Sunday, October 31, starting at 5:00 pm in the Council Hall. There may be room at the table for guests at the feast. To find out more, call River Otter at 828 669-6861.
Useful Plants Nursery Fall Plant Jam and Sale: Saturday, November 6, 9am-3pm (rain date Sunday, November 7). Visit the nursery to select useful plants for your yard, hear about all the plants from Chuck Marsh, and consult with a designer about your plans. See the UPN website for directions and details about the sale here.
On Friday, November 12, singer-songwriter Michael Holt brings his one-man lounge show to Council Hall. Michael will play an unpredictable mix of original Beatlesy pop tunes, piano preludes, songs about nature, and covers of everything from Dylan and Scriabin to Dizzy Gillespie and Fela Kuti, using his vintage Wurlitzer electric piano, Sniffing Princess guitar, tambourine, clown nose, and rabbit ears.
Show starts at 8:00 pm, and the $10 cover charge is to raise funds for Culture’s Edge. Desserts and beverages will be sold as well. For a peek at Michael’s gifts, check out his websites:
here and here.
On a sweet Saturday night in September, Earthaven members, residents and friends were treated to a fabulous dance party courtesy of the Chikomo Marimba Band.
Earthaven Member and co-owner of Mud Straw Love natural building company, Mollie Curry, and her builder, drummer husband Steve Kemble are part of the Asheville-based band, which features seven marimbas, from soprano to base (the base is so big they need a platform to reach all the keys!).
The event, a fundraiser for Culture’s Edge, left no one sitting for long with the band's syncopated and contrapuntal melodies and rhythms. We are already talking about when we might get them back!
October 24th's Council Meeting broke the record for number of new Full Members joining (jumping, as we call it) at once.
All had been Provisional Members for less than a year and were excited to share this special day with each other.
The big surprise was their decision to jump in their birthday suits – something that hasn't happened at Earthaven in a long time!
Jonathan and eli swiftcreek, Kaitlin Hetzner and Karen Taylor (with son, Aura, sharing the spotlight) were then each lifted up to the familiar love song sung to all new members on their jumping day.
Says Jonathan: Earthaven works for me because "I enjoy connecting with intimates and strangers alike about community and ecovillage living."
Old-timers here are thrilled to welcome these four young folks into the family. They bring a banquet of blessings!
Earthaven's got a Facebook page. Finally.
Stay in touch with us and others interested in Ecovillage Living.
Find us here.
We started a new blog this past summer on Earthaven Ecovillage Life - Living Sustainably and Creating Community.
Some of the recent blog topics include:
~3 Women and a Sugar Baby
~Adventures in Blackberry Abundance
~Natural Building Family Camp
~Tomato Project at Village Terraces
~Forest Garden Neighborhood
~Salvation Alley Cleanup
Visit the blog here.