Spring Newsletter

Season of New Beginnings.
In Oriental metaphoric tradition, Spring's direction is East, its color yellow (or green-yellow), its quality innocence. The time of day is sunrise, and it corresponds to the Wood element. Its animal image is an eagle, flying high over the landscape. Spring is a time of many possibilities, and springtime energy brings openness.

Spring begins with the Equinox, a few days' relative balance of Sun and Moon power, the days once again as long as the nights. Here in Western North Carolina, there is the likelihood of warm temperatures and the potential for snow (of which we've had very little this year).

By this year's Spring Equinox, Lenten Rose, Crocus and Daffodil had already flowered. When I knelt down to smell the Hyacinths (swooning), I saw the Irises already fanning out their broad, flat green leaves. Robins were everywhere, nests and birdsong appearing literally out of the blue.

On days like these, the heart leaps up to see the trees and bushes budding, while the mind sends a flash of fear for them and the weather they may yet have to survive. However, at press time, we can say that Spring temperatures stuck around and all the buds were saved.

In general, the last frost date for the Asheville area is May 10th, but Earthaven is tucked into the edge of a iso-thermal belt that runs through Rutherford County, so we often have frost-free nights several weeks ahead of Asheville and Black Mountain.

This Spring at Earthaven is definitely a time of new beginnings! Just come up to the end of Camp Elliott Road and see the cleared, graded, soon-to-be-seeded "big sky" reality at Gateway Ag Field. Major food production planned here for years to come, with several of our young men earning "sweat equity" during the establishment of the farm. (See "Sweat and Ye Shall Receive" in this issue. Gateway Farm will be featured in the Summer newsletter.)

Continuing along Another Way to Rosy Branch Creek (second crossing), you'll soon be driving over our second bridge. On the far side, turn right to Imani Farm and meet new residents Carla and Hijo, a ewe and her lamb. (Don't forget to say hello to Bridgit the cow, now almost a year old.)

More surprises: arrive in the Hut Hamlet and discover that ag field in its new incarnation as "Finally Farming CSA."

And those are just the obvious things. Interiorly, Earthaven members are creating and recreating our community with every conversation, meeting, decision, and with a revitalized Strategic Planning Committee that has begun actualizing visions that have been nurtured for more than a decade.
--Arjuna da Silva

The Biggest Change at Earthaven this Spring
Here is a picture of the Gateway field project (mentioned above) just after clearing, but before seeding. What a drastic change to the face of Earthaven! Next newsletter we'll show you the same scene when it's green and growing. In addition to the beauty of the green—in contrast especially to its current red look—Gateway field has also given Earthaven our first experience of a big, open skyline. Makes you breathe deeper….
--Ivy Lynn

News from Council Hall
In our Council Hall, the new and gorgeous, luminescent granite and marble mosaic floor, pictured here, is finally finished! The design for the floor was created by Jessica Evans and provided an opportunity for Earthaven to support sweat equity by approval of Jessica's proposal to barter half her membership fee for the completion of the second half of the floor. (She designed and facilitated the first half for Earthaven currency— aka "leaps.")

About ten volunteers helped Jess translate her vision into the physical reality of laying "rock" in such a huge space. With such a beautiful floor, it's been hard to move functional furniture back in over it, but until we build the next community building adjacent to it, Council Hall will continue to play its multi-functional role in our lives, including reception for many classes and events, expanded classroom space for the Forest Children Program, a small sustainability library, and a living room area around the wood stove for small group socializing. If you have elegant, comfortable furniture that you think would fit in that space, please write info@earthaven.org or leave a message for us at (828) 669-3937.
--Ivy Lynn

Homeschool Enrichment
Eleven Earthaven and neighbor children from five to ten years of age currently attend the Forest Children's Program at Earthaven. An integrative homeschool learning program blessed with the ability to take advantage of this natural mountain setting, FCP curriculum encourages each child to develop a deeper understanding of the cycles of nature and of sustainable stewardship of the Earth.

Corinna Wood, a founder of the program and active board member, spoke about her experience as the mom of six-year-old Dylan, who's been attending since he was three. "It's been a wonderful opportunity for him, socially as well as academically. The wide age range helps develop greater social skills than same-age classrooms, and we've been especially excited about the watercolor talent Dylan's developing under Laura's Waldorf-trained guidance. Reading and math have started to come alive for him, along with theater arts. Most exciting are the seasonal celebrations Laura honors with special activities, such as making candles for Midwinter."

As time goes by, FCP parents hope to meet more needs of families and children, including adding a pre-school group of three-and-a-half- to five-year-olds in the Fall of 2007. At the present time, Forest Children meet in Earthaven's Council Hall which, while beautiful, can be a challenge because of its wide open space and the lack of indoor running water. Though a site for a school was donated by two of Earthaven's earliest members, building on it isn't likely to happen too soon. FCP parents hope to rent rooms in the Earthaven community center building currently being designed. Funding for the building is a top priority, and Earthaven will be busy learning just how and where to find the up front capital that will be needed long before the financial contributions of future members will be able to be counted. (After twelve years, we're not quite halfway to our population goal.)

Space is available in the 2006-2007 FCP session, which begins on August 29th and runs, Tuesdays through Thursdays, five hours a day, through May 31, 2007. For more information, and to arrange a visit, go to www.earthaven.org/children or write fcp@earthaven.org. FCP lead teacher Laura Coleman is available by phone at (828) 669-8398.
--Arjuna da Silva


Sign Up for the Most Useful Workshops You'll Find!
Earthaven's education mission is being carried on this year by individual teachers, as Culture's Edge takes a year to review and revise its role as organizer of events. One future option, among others, is to become a study center for an international roster of GAIA University students. For more information go to: http://www.gaiauniversity.org./

Teachers and presenters have come together to share the many roles involved in planning and hosting workshops in permaculture, natural building, community-building, plant wisdom and other health-inspiring activities. No large regional gatherings are planned for this year, giving members a much needed opportunity to focus on themselves, building homes and developing agriculture. The annual summer permaculture gathering will again be held at Celo community the first weekend in August. For information go to the bottom of this page:

Here's a quick rundown of courses: Useful Plants with Chuck Marsh on April 29 and July 9. Chuck will also offer a one-day introduction to Site Design on July 8. A focus on movement for health begins with guest teacher Richard Leirer's "Nature Qigong" workshop, May 5-7, and continues in the Fall with our own Tracy Kunkler's "Yoga on the Earth," September 23-24.

Natural Building workshops featuring Arjuna's cob/adobe and strawbale house, May 20-21 & 26-28, June 30-July 4, August 9-13, September 2-4, and September 30-October 1, will cover earthen bond beams, adobe-and- cob walls integrated with a strawbale wall, plasters, paints and other finishes and decorative techniques. A fifteen-week internship program in natural building beginning June 23 is also planned. See:

Five monthly Permaculture Fundamentals weekends with Patricia Allison and friends begin May 13-14 and run through August. Patricia's also teaching a 9-day Fundamentals with Chuck Marsh, September 1-10. Participants in both Fundamentals classes will have an opportunity to meet up for a 3-weekend Permaculture Design Practicum in October and November. Patricia's also offering a "Women in Permaculture" weekend this year, October 22-24. Frank Cook "and friends" return to Earthaven for an "Exploring Plant Magic" event, August 19-20.

Finally, Diana Leafe Christian's "How to Start a Successful Ecovillage" will be held October 8-10, and Diana's also introducing a weekend for folks interested in knowing more about Earthaven with an "Editor's Tour" on June 11. (Diana is editor of Communities magazine). Check Earthaven's website
or email info@earthaven.org for more information about all these offerings.

This year, Corinna Wood's classes in women's health and herbal medicine are being sponsored by the North Carolina School of Holistic Herbalism,
even though many are being held at Earthaven. And the 2nd annual SouthEast Women's Herbal Conference, featuring Starhawk as keynote speaker, will be held at Camp Pinnacle in Hendersonville on the Autumn Equinox. For more information on this conference go to:http://www.redmoonherbs.com/womens_herbal_conference/index.php

--Arjuna da Silva

Useful Plants Abounding!
Another sign of Spring at Earthaven is the expansion of Chuck Marsh's Useful Plants Nursery from his homesite in Benchmark neighborhood. The nursery grows permaculture and edible landscaping plants that are well adapted to our mountains and the surrounding bioregions, with a specialty in phyto-nutritionals. Chuck's pictured here checking out the promising new buds on a Nanking Cherry.

Kicking off the season at the annual Organic Growers' School, March 11, Chuck offered workshops in growing useful plants and displayed his exclusive variety of potted herbs, berries, nuts, fruits and medicinals for sale. He'll present day-long versions of the workshop at Earthaven on April 29 and July 8. You're invited to stop by and see what he's got in the nursery to share, including both plant science and folklore.

Chuck's plan for the Spring and following seasons is to expand the nursery downhill onto a leased agriculture site occupying the bottom flats of the current main campground. The upper camping sites will probably remain in place for at least another year, while the permanent campground at Hidden Valley Road is gradually developed.

Wolfberries, Jaogulan (Chinese herb), Jujube, and Goumi are some of the more exotic plants Chuck features, alongside Elderberries, Blueberries, Raspberries, thornless Blackberries, Fig trees, Apple trees, Pecans and Walnuts, and various kinds of Cherries. If you give him a holler at (828) 669-1759 or by email at chuck@earthaven.org, you can set up a time to come pick out your own pots. He'll give you the lowdown on the health values of delicious foods you never suspected would be so conducive to your well-being! You'll also meet Chuck at his Useful Plants stall at the Greenlife tailgate market on Wednesday and Friday afternoons in Asheville and at most local herb and gardening festivals all year long.
--Arjuna da Silva

The time has finally come for Sweat Equity at Earthaven
Over the years Earthaven has tried to prioritize agriculture, and to provide ways for skilled folks to be able to be at Earthaven even if they hadn't amassed savings. First site option 3 was created. It allowed a few people to be here, but it just delayed their inevitable need to pay for their site. They were also busy trying to get ahead in order to pay those delayed fees, while still doing the huge work of being here. It was very much like running on a conveyor belt going in one direction, while trying to move forward an actual mile in the opposite direction. Most people were making progress, but at a dauntingly slow rate.

Then council made it possible for a farmer to pay for the equivalent of one site with leaps accepted for food farmed on the land. Sadly, almost none of that exchange was acted upon. Their was only one field cleared, and no one really had the time to farm. They were still busy running in place. We needed a way for people to get their livelihood from making agriculture happen here. It had to happen in a specific order, that was the key to the riddle we had yet to solve. So, we made logging trade-able for a site payment. But, the riddle still had folks running in place.

When the Sweat Equity proposals were passed, we were made aware that all the pieces of the puzzle must be present at once and in large enough quantity to accomplish a truly progressive and substantial difference. Also, a large part of the riddle was getting facilitators to ensure that each agricultural project was taken to completion, so that part of it wouldn't get cleared only to start growing back toward forest in a few years. Praise be, Farmer and Brian took on the Gateway project. They brought all the pieces through council. Their hard work and brilliant minds seem to have gone a long way to solving the riddle of how to make Sweat Equity at Earthaven translate skilled people without savings, into the members and agriculture that we need.

But they did not do it by themselves. In fact, isn't that the point? It takes all the pieces present at the same time and in large enough quantity. Again we get to acknowledge that our community is developing, and limited by that development very much like a child. We wanted to walk long before we could. Then we took our first steps and fell down quite a few times, acquiring a few bruises and scratches. Now we are finally able to run some.

You may ask, but who are the people actually doing the Sweat Equity, aren't we talking about new members? Yes we are! One of the people working on the Gateway project to pay his membership, is Joe Dofflemyer, pictured here in the act of Sweat while making it look zen. Also working on the project to pay off their membership fees are Dan Penny and Cailen Campbell. Andy Bosley and Robert Carran are working toward paying off their site fees along with Farmer and Brian. And soon maybe we will be able to buy our food with leaps!
--Ivy Lynn

Shoes Off!
Being Healed by the Earth

"American feet are atrophied; they don't develop, they are inarticulate," says Warren Grossman, energy healer and author of the book, To Be Healed By The Earth, pointing out that in cultures where people don't wear shoes, the toes spread and the feet move quite differently while walking. "In our culture, we pretend we don't live on the Earth." So, the first thing he had us do in the 2-day workshop I recently experienced with him at Earthaven, was to take off our shoes. After massaging one foot, we marveled at the different sense of contact with the floor in that foot compared to the other one.

Besides massaging and stretching out our feet and toes, we learned to open the chakras in the soles and send our energy and attention down into the Earth, grounding ourselves. As our attention went into the ground, we became aware of the subtle sensation of energy rising up from the Earth into our bodies. "All anxiety comes from ungroundedness," Grossman said. The cure? Connecting to Mother Earth.

"Love without energy is merely sentiment," he said, "and all healing requires love." The healer is a mediator, a conduit of Earth energy. So, despite the sleety weather, we went outdoors and experienced connecting with trees. We practiced grounding ourselves and then feeling the depth and width of the heart. To heal others, we ground ourselves, open our hearts, love ourselves first, then send loving energy to the other person through the hands; it is not necessary to actually touch the person. "The more highly organized energy field will dominate the less organized energy field," noted Grossman.
--from Cathy's online newsletter, EARTH & US

Editor's note: Twenty-some participants in Warren's workshop, mostly Earthaven residents and some friends from town, spent two days in mindful relationship with their own bodies, Earth, and each other. It was awesome! For days afterward, the increased energy in the community was palpable. Many are continuing to use and remind others about the simple, adaptable techniques gathered over the weekend. A third day focused on individual healings and some work as a group was generously given to a smaller group of community members free of charge. Stay tuned for news of Warren's return.

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