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Earthaven Ecovillage
Wintering in 2018

We are what, how and from where we eat!
For the living, food is a master course in survival and well-being. Our community members strive to learn how to grow and prepare soil to cultivate vibrant, nourishing plants and animals, demonstrate a healthy balance between work, relaxation and celebration, and continue to develop a cooperative management approach to various goals of self-sufficiency. Medicine is the other power course, which we’ll shine a light on in future issues.
We are food people. What we eat, what we grow, what we trade, what we know about our food, and the ways we share food and food stories, are a big part of our lives in community. At Earthaven, organic food self-sufficient practices are a dream in the process of fulfillment, albeit with a long way to go!
We've yet to build our long-dreamed-of community center, with multi-purpose spaces for dining, workshops, parties, classes, games, a place to share more of the lifestyle we’ve dedicated ourselves to. Connected to soil, seed, animal life and recycled resources, little by little, folks learn and apply the learning.

Meanwhile, we eat together at weekly potlucks and cookouts, at celebrations, and in a few neighborhood kitchens that provide more intimate spaces. Recently, Marybeth started a “Sunday Soup ‘n Somethin’" supper group, mixed up from neighborhoods across the community. This idea is likely to go viral in the months to come.
This holiday season, folks were attentive to ways of sharing food. At the Bizarre Bazaar before the Winter Solstice, folks sold holiday food. 
On Christmas Eve, Monique and Juan Pablo organized a spectacular dinner party at the White Owl, where Rachel
and the kids provided warmth and welcome. River Otter served chicken dinner on Christmas Day at the Hut Hamlet Kitchen to guests from around the community. A surprise ice storm had most folks staying home New Year’s Eve, gathering momentum (one hopes) for more food-focused events in the near future.
Using opportunities to build our food culture with nourishing social connection and opportunities to work, learn and grow together, we learn to care for the soil, discover best varieties, best seasons, best preservation and trading partners. By learning its energetic and nutritional value, by seeing how our food heals and sustains us, we grow stronger. By storying the food and paying respect to its goodness and purity, by remembering what we know of where it came from, we carry on the good work.
The learning will go on, while the concentric circles widen around the essential goal—a human and planetary resilience that promises to fulfill our dearest and most tender needs.
photos, from top:
  Darren in the cornfield.
  Cornelian Cherries.
  Chrismas Eve at the White Owl.
  Allie at Full Circle Farm's table– (Coffee & Trade, summer).
 right: Michaeljon delighting Heron at the fish pond.
Coming Soon to a screening near you! GROW!

The movie about how people are saving their communities, local zone by local zone.
Why I Bother to Farm at Earthaven
by Zev Friedman   

Part Two: A Collaborative Farming Manifesto
Now in its 24th year, I believe that Earthaven is in a stage of cultural succession in which collaborative farming has more of a role to play than in the early years. The pioneer effort of Earthaven's first two decades created both the literal and cultural topsoil needed for supporting plants and the human systems it takes to sustain that production.
Food production has as much to offer the community for its human relational benefits as for its survival function. For now, we know we won’t starve if our crops fail. Our privileged access to many backup food sources is a huge cushion. Although it is likely in coming decades that intensive self-reliant food production will become necessary instead of optional, for now it is a choice.
So why would any of us choose to grow food? Why don’t we just keep growing good topsoil? Growing significant amounts of food is hard work that requires diligence, sacrifice, and a total reset of activities and priorities, without anything like a guaranteed success.

Although I cannot speak for the livestock or biodynamic farmers or the numerous home gardeners and landscape managers who are my neighbors, I’ve articulated these goals for myself, and I believe we generally share them:
To develop a culture of collaborative farming and mutual aid which is enjoyable, satisfying and full of purpose.
To maximize learning now through successes and failures of edgy experiments, while fossil fuels and specialized resources are available as a safety net.

To develop an adaptive, climate-resilient agro-ecological system that can healthily sustain people indefinitely, even in a subsistence lifestyle.
To obtain enough yields of diverse foods, medicines, fiber and fodder and to learn to skillfully cook and/or process them for an integrated agro-ecological lifeway.
To influence other farmers through example and proof of concept, as communicated through farming together, as well as educational formats and writing.
To design a system which is >90% self-sufficient in nutrients, minerals and organic matter.
To breed seeds and plants for maximum diversity, for polyculture and successional farming practices, for micro-local adaptation, and for flavor and nutrient density.
photos, from top: Local liquid concoctions for Xmas Eve; preparing "lasagna" gardens is a big job!; Meira leads Julia through the milpa; Full Circle Farm potato harvest curing. 
Zev Friedman is a leading permaculture designer, researcher, teacher and writer in western North Carolina, specializing in hands-on, in-depth permaculture and earthskills education. He lives in the Hut Hamlet. Feel free to contact Zev directly with comments, questions, and your own stories at zevkudzu at
Building Community Through Ritual
by NikiAnne Feinberg
Rituals to help land-based and regional communities process what has happened and is happening in our world are so powerful. We look to ritual to help us digest the unsavory and the unpalatable. We connect with teachers whose wisdom, guidance and experience can help our concentric rings of community continue to process the grief and sorrow we experience, to some degree on a daily basis.
So many of us are skilled at honoring birthdays, seasonal holidays, and the memory of famous people, but how many of us are ready to authentically honor the changes and losses of life?
Here at Earthaven, we've buried three community members this past year. The ritual tools Sobonfu Somé shared with us have been enormously useful in helping us know what to do when tragic events occur. They gave us a common language for addressing our grief, as well as a solid foundation from which to build our own rituals based in connection to the natural world and each other. We’ve had quite a bit of practice these last two years in how to process grief in the present and transform it into a sense of well-being, of life moving forward…. (So many of us are still longing to honor and grieve Sobonfu’s passing…and will have an opportunity to do so in the upcoming Transform, Connect, and Heal Ritual Weekend here May 4-6.)
There are many ways to use these emotional and spiritual tools and practices:
  • for the loss of loved ones.
  • for the untended historical trauma over the extermination of indigenous peoples.
  • for the fear and dismay at what is going on in the nation’s political arena.
  • for outrage at the racial injustices in our institutional and governmental policies.
  • for the powerlessness we feel over ever more major, irreversible environmental atrocities.
We want to continue practicing the language and expression of emotions and communion with the ancestors in the presence of others. We also want to learn new rituals we can grow into (and with) as community. We want to use ritual to honor the land we live on and make offerings of gratitude for all that it provides for us. 
I want to be a voice for Earthaven being a place that has learned to welcome death as a part of intentional and integrated living. Through demonstrating and also sharing what and who we learn from, we contribute to our community’s dual missions of transformative lifestyles and education.
These trainings have been essential to Earthaven's journey of maturing into a community that embraces death, not only by gracefully accepting it as a reality in life, but by skilling up on tending to our own beloveds’ deaths.

        Above: 2017 Ancestor Feast Altar featuring Chuck, Suchi and Kimchi.
Led by two of Sobonfu's long-time students and friends, Susan Hough and Jennifer Halls, the Transform, Connect, and Heal Ritual Weekend will focus on the practice of ritual, in which the true outcome might not be understood until long after the end. On the immediate level, however, ritual is a powerful way to transform inner and outer situations, connect to Spirit, and deeply heal on many levels. I invite you to join me and others from all over the country in this powerful ritual of honoring and growing.
NikiAnne Feinberg, Director of the School of Integrated Living, has over two decades of experience with experiential, nature-based program development in both the nonprofit and academic sectors. As a resident of Earthaven (specifically Gateway Neighborhood), she finds herself on the front lines of connecting with visitors, students, and school groups who are all visiting to dive deeper into learning about community and alternative lifeways. Being a co-instructor for the Wild Leaders Immersion is one of the things that is making her heart sing most in recent times.
In Memorium
by Arjuna da Silva

It was hard to lose three of our most outstanding members last year, though it sure showed us what kind of folks our community is made of. Kimchi, Goddess of Beauty and Determination. Suchi, Queen of Loyalty and Cooperation. Chuck, Champion of The Good Fight and Lama of Permaculture—they all carried the banner for Earthaven for over a decade (Chuck having been a founder). These principled people helped make us who we are today.

Folks feel so much gratitude that we were able to help them as much as we did, when their lives were ending. It brought us such a strong dose of sobriety about the precious value of a human life—and more connection than we ever might have felt had we not shared these experiences.
Another dear early Earthaven member, David Tree Malpass, also passed away last year. Tree helped design the Council Hall, and participated in much community planning from the very beginning. When feeling light-hearted, I say they left to work things out for us in eternity.
(remembering, from the top: Kimchi Rylander, Susan (Suchi) Lathrop), Chuck Marsh, David Tree Malpass.
Postscript: Stepping into 2018!
While it’s hard to be encouraged by the way humans are utilizing planetary resources and influences, to some extent it just makes us hunker down even more, to mine those inner resources that will help us go the distance—get another project done, another plan designed, even explore another conflict…and keep creating what means most to us, including collaborating on celebrations and community traditions.

One way to
share some of these developments with us is by staying subscribed to this newsletter and becoming a Supporting Member.
I hear visitors sometimes wonder how such a cool place could be so…messy! It’s understandable that the vision we have of where we’ll be in another decade might be the same one visitors are looking for now. But Earthaven is not a Planned Community! We’re a community in various stages of planning, still dreaming ourselves into existence, in many ways more a process than an accomplishment—one that needs more time and capital to unfold in the organic way we’ve learned to trust.
So we invite you to visit with an eye for what stands out as beautiful to you, whether in the landscape, the built environment, or the lives of the people and animals you meet. Please feel welcome to join us (as Supporting Members, students, work exchangers, and for a community tour), and to feel the possibilities. Come grow with us!
Earthaven, by the way, is growing! As our new structure takes shape, eight people have lined up so far to take the jump into Full Membership as soon as we’re ready to make that official. Here’s what one wrote in a recent membership interview:
Question: What are your deepest dreams and aspirations for living in community?
I see a thriving community where people know the land intimately, they know the food and medicine all around them, they know how to make fibers and tools from the land, and they do this in a sacred way. We create so much food, the wildlife begin to thrive and populations surge. Ceremony is weaved throughout: honoring the land and its inhabitants, individuals going through rites of passage, and important annual events. There are tools that address conflict, bringing peace to people's hearts. …. I see a deepening in spirituality as different backgrounds come together. I see dancing and singing weaved into everyday events, [with] children heavily honored and actions looked at with an eye for future generations…. I see a place that people get excited to visit and feel sad to leave. This is the place I want to call home. (It is interesting, as I write this, to see how some of this is present already, and so maybe what I'm imagining is a deepening of it all.)
Want to learn more?
Here are some helpful links to our website:        
Earthaven is an aspiring ecovillage dedicated to caring for people and the Earth by learning, living and demonstrating holistic, sustainable culture. Since 1995, we have grown to 55 full members, from twenty-somethings to elders, plus infants, young children and teens. We hope to grow to at least 150 people. We're just 30 miles from Asheville, NC.
Upcoming Events
from Culture's Edge
The Miracle of Meditation Retreat with Jeff Carreira

February 23-25
Meditation can be more than a practice and more than a state of being. It can be a platform for shifting into a new paradigm for the benefit of all beings.
A weekend of story skill development
with Eric J. Wolf
Back by popular demand! After a successful first run in November, Eric is offering his magical, masterful approach to finding the storytellers within us and letting them shine! Beginners and experienced storytellers can all find material for growth and learning in this three-part weekend.
March 17 & 18  Find Your Voice as a Storyteller and Make a 1000-Year-Old Story from Scratch on Saturday, and then treat yourself to a Master Class in Storytelling on Sunday. Take one day or both!
Primitive Skills with Jeff Gottlieb
Whittling & Knife Craft
April 14 Learn how to choose the right knife for the job, and practice six safe and useful carving strokes. We'll cover some wood identification and attributes of common trees. As you work on a few fun, useful and beautiful woodcarving projects, your knife skills will grow fast and you will be hooked on whittling!
Wild Basketry
April 28 Make beautiful, functional one-of-a-kind baskets from wild collected vines, grasses, leaves and other natural materials
Learn more at Culture's Edge or call us at 828 669-1965.

Upcoming School of Integrated Living Classes

Are You Comfortable with Death?
"Although death can be difficult, it also captures the beauty of life and how precious it truly is," says Cassie Barrett of Carolina Memorial Sanctuary and the Center for End of Life Transitions. But modern culture's fear of dying and efforts to prevent it at all costs often prevent us from encountering death's true transformative potential.

Cassie recently recorded a talk with Asheville's Creative Mornings about how she became comfortable with the discomfort around death. Her colleagues Caroline Yongue and Ruth Ostrenga at the Center for End of Life Transitions, in partnership with School of Integrated Living, are offering two classes at Earthaven Ecovillage that explore the same subject.
Advanced Care and After Death Care Directives, March 3 and 10, provides a supportive environment for preparing your end of life documents. Home Funeral and Death Care Midwife Training, June 15–17, is an intensive workshop on home-based end of life care and celebrations for the journey of dying. Learn more about both classes and register at the SOIL website.

April 26-30 The life of a village is found in its work: the day-to-day agriculture, crafting, and maintenance that keep its people fed and sheltered. Register for Service-Learning Week to experience a truly alternative village culture from the inside out and make a lasting contribution.


Earthaven Experience Week

June 8-13  Experience the dynamic nature of community and alternative approaches to life's current events through classes, community conversations, and hands-on service projects within Earthaven's farms and neighborhoods.

Permaculture Design Course 

July 5-26  SOIL extends the internationally recognized PDC curriculum into a broader exploration of community-scale design for climate resilience. Learn permaculture in the context of the emerging global climate reality through the living classroom of Earthaven Ecovillage. Earn certification.

Learn more and register on SOIL's website or call (828) 669-2707 


Compassion Camp

June 7-10  This immersive exploration of nonviolent communication (NVC) is meant to foster community among the growing number of people in Western North Carolina who are passionate about living and promoting compassionate consciousness. Compassion Camp is a program of Ten Thousand Love Letters, co-hosted by SOIL and Culture's Edge.

Compassion Camp


Folks at Bellavia chose to skip the crowd and cozy up for turkey dinner.
VAGABOND NO MORE! The old Vagabond trailer at Bellavia, after serving many folks for over 20 years, was finally sold and taken to its new home. May it serve many more!
BAZAAR KIDS! The children's table at the Bizarre Bazaar draws plenty of grownup crafters. Paper stars and chains are the traditional favorites. 
MUSHROOM BONANZA! Shiitake logs ready for harvest. Popular dried for trading.

Michael treated us to a holiday visit and a sweet session of numbers from his new album, along with a few requests for favorites he's sung to us before.

Rio Fiore was one of six local story-tellers to gather feedback through a specific "artist-centered" process shared in Eric's workshop. It goes like this: after the story is performed the group follows these steps:

3.Artist questions
4.Audience questions.
Being artist-centered means the audience doesn't make suggestions or critique the performance. Instead, the audience reflects on what had meaning or stood out, and what might be unclear to them.
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Mission: To create a village which is a living laboratory and educational seed bank for a sustainable human future.
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This issue of the Earthaven e-newsletter was put together by Arjuna da Silva with help from Debbie Lienhart and contributions from NikiAnne Feinberg and Zev Friedman.
We look forward to greeting you again with news from the front lines in a couple of months! Please send any comments and ideas for future issues to
<newsletter at>.


Earthaven Ecovillage  |  5 Consensus Circle  |  Black Mountain, NC 28711  |

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