Agriculture is Blooming!
In March, two lambs were born to Carla, the ewe who shares the Imani Field pasture with Bridget, the two-year-old Dexter cow, and flocks of Muscovy ducks and Rhode Island Red chickens. Imani Field managers Lee Warren and Mihaly Bartalos are leasing the quarter-acre field just downhill from their Village Terraces neighborhood. Bridget is now pregnant, and will have her calf in October. Lee and Mihaly have just brought in Janey, another young Dexter cow, who's also pregnant and expected to have her calf in October. You'll often find Bridget, Janey, and Carla snuggled in a companionable group. Dexters are sometimes called "permaculture cows" because they're smaller than normal and don't need as much hay or pasture area as full-sized cows.
Yellowroot Farm in the Hut Hamlet is up and running again, with seedings for what will become lush and vibrant biodynamic vegetables. (See "Yellowroot CSA Begins Second Year," below.)
In late April Cailen Campbell's goats, April and Luna, had their kids, and now moms and kids are sharing a pen in front of the Tribal Condo in the Hut Hamlet. Cailen, Lee, and Mihaly rotate the grazing of their animals at various sites around Earthaven, including the Village Green, the fallow side of Yellowroot Farm, and the "New Lumberyard" site near Gateway Field.
Recently a crew of loggers and farmers, including Brian Love, Mike Odel, Chris Farmer, Mihaly, Cailen, and work exchangers Galen Ballantine, Drew Hoffman, and Bruce Johnston, further cleared the New Lumberyard site and prepared it for grazing. The logs from the trees that were felled were milled as lumber for the Pokeberry Hill duplex at Village Terraces (see "New Buildings," below), and the stumps were left in the ground. The pasture was fertilized with organic fertilizers and planted in perennial grasses and clovers. This one-acre site (called the "New Lumberyard" because it once was going to be a lumberyard), is ideal for grazing rather than crop cultivation because it's on a slope and too steep for a tractor, has stumps, and is north-facing.
Last spring, Brian Love and Chris Farmer (known as "Farmer") started their four-acre integrated-agriculture project, Gateway Field, by clearing four acres of forest, adding organic soil amendments, and growing and tilling under two "green manure" cover crops. Their next step is a grass rotational pasturage system with Icelandic sheep, and probably endangered heirloom breed turkeys and chickens. This requires a sturdy fence to protect livestock and provide a fixed point for attaching lightweight moveable fencing for when the animals are sequentially moved around the field in the rotational grazing system. This spring, with the help of Mike, Bruce, Galen, and others, Brian and Farmer built a 2220 ft fence around their field, using woven wire fencing attached to charred locust posts every 15 feet. They'll soon add two electrified wires around the perimeter to complete the fence, and, perhaps as early as November, will bring in their small herd of sheep.
Last fall, Michaejon Drouin and Andy Bosley converted an existing pond along Rosy Branch Road, just uphill from the hydro station, into a trout pond. They built up the dam so the pond would hold more water, and ran more water into it from nearby Rosy Branch Creek. "Trout need cool, aerated water to survive," Andy says, "and raising the water level and increasing the pond size meant we could grow more trout in the pond." In late March of this year Michaeljon and Andy stocked the pond with 200 3-to-5-inch rainbow trout purchased from a regional trout breeder. "By April some of the largest trout sited were already 7 to 8 inches long!" Andy reports. The plan is to begin harvesting the trout when the biggest ones are about 12 inches long, perhaps by mid-July. The trout will be sold to Earthaven members and neighbors, and Michaeljon and Andy will experiment with making smoked fish for longer-term preservation.
Michaeljon and Andy are currently arranging with the Forestry and Agriculture committee to create a second larger pond downhill from the first, in order to expand their aquaculture operation.
Yellowroot CSA Begins Second Year
By Andy Bosley and Julie McMahan
This is the second year of operation for "Yellowroot Farm," the half-acre Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm we operate at Earthaven. This year we have 20 shares, five more than last year. We plan to grow food for the Hut Hamlet Kitchen and its 15 or so members as well. Our new name, "Yellowroot," reflects a part of our sacred landscape at Earthaven. We love the yellowroot plant, which grows abundantly along Taylor Creek (less than 100 yards from our farm), because of the plant's beauty and medicinal value.
Over the winter we built a large, 14 x 30 ft. greenhouse, designed around our great find of 8 large recycled 4 x 7 ft. windows. The greenhouse, financed by the two of us, was built by Mihaly, Robert, and Andy, with the site cleared by Cailen, and the lumber felled and milled on the land.
Starting plants in flats in the greenhouse has allowed us to get an earlier start with many more plants this year. Last year folks received kale, collards, lettuce, chard, dandelion greens, potatoes, tomatoes, summer squash,okra, beets, carrots, onions, garlic, peppers, turnips, and beans. This year the season will go into the fall and shares will include sweet potatoes, several varieties of winter squash and pumpkins, corn and some of our homemade kraut and pesto.
The season is now fully upon us, requiring long and wonderful days both in the field and the greenhouse. It feels so wonderful to have our hands in the dirt again! We have been working hard since mid-February filling the greenhouse with baby plant starts, getting the soil ready for planting, setting up irrigation, and making fence repairs. We have a variety of yummy greens already in the field that will be ready for harvest in mid-May.
We appreciate that our shareholders support local, sustainable, biodynamic agriculture. We believe this choice is crucial to creating positive change in the world, here and beyond! It gives people the opportunity to eat fresh and vital food, know who's growing their food and where it's coming from, the opportunity to learn about organic and biodynamic growing techniques, and much more.
If you'd like to help, Yellowroot Farm can use donations of large clean baskets, large plastic bins (2'x3' or so), portable coolers, a digital camera, a chalkboard and chalk, volunteer labor, Leaps (Earthaven's alternative currency), and of course money to help us keep doing what we love.
For more information, see Agriculture at Earthaven
$7,000 Grant to Offer Support to Local Organic Farmers
In January, 2007, Culture's Edge, the nonprofit educational organization founded and staffed by Earthaven members, received its first grant: $7,000, from the North Carolina-based resourceful Communities Program."We applied for the grant to help Culture's Edge develop into a more effective, capable organization," says Earthaven member Tracy Kunkler, fundraiser for Culture's Edge. "So it can more effectively serve the basic needs of people at Earthaven and in the neighboring counties for clean air and water, abundant wholesome food, and sustainable livelihood."
Culture's Edge was founded in 1995 to help catalyze healthy, sustainable, and regenerative culture at Earthaven and in the bioregion. In the past, Culture's Edge has organized public classes and workshops at Earthaven in permaculture design, natural building, and other topics to teach and demonstrate a more sustainable way of life. Encouraged by Tracy, a nonprofit administrator who joined Earthaven in 2006, Culture's Edge began seeking grant and donation money last November to undertake a different strategy, and they decided to focus at the heart of any region's culture: its food.
"This is seed money, like a 'flint spark' to get our programs going and develop our ability to seek more funding in the near future, thanks to the Resourceful Communities Program," says Tracy. "They wanted to help us build our capacity as an organization, because they see we meet their 'triple bottom line' for environmental stewardship, social justice, and sustainable community economic development.
"Both Rutherford County, the county in which most of Earthaven's property lies, and neighboring McDowell County, are economically depressed. Families and younger workers in these counties often have to commute outside the area for work or leave the area entirely if they want to have decent livelihood. Small family farmers are especially hard hit. Paradoxically, there's a huge demand for locally grown organic produce, dairy products, meat products, and biofuels in our region--more than local farmers can supply right now. We want to help them, and our own farmers at Earthaven, such as the Gateway integrated agricultural project, to build sustainable farms and connect to these markets. There's a lot of connecting-up we can help facilitate!"
Culture's Edge would like to offer local organic farmers and growers meeting space, office and administration services, and staff time to research how local farmers can develop their entrepreneurial--and ecologically sustainable--plans.Part of the grant money will be used for Culture's Edge to rent office space at Earthaven for several months and pay for staff time to develop a database of potential funders and donors, potential workshop participants, and local organic farmers. The grant will also support board development, to find and train more Culture's Edge board members. (Current board members are Paul Caron, Arjuna da Silva, and Suchi Lathrop, as well as Channing Ayers, a neighbor from nearby One Stone intentional community.)
Grant money will also pay for staff time to establish relationships with and promote other local organizations engaged in similar work: to make connections with Foothill Family Farms, a co-op of farmers and growers practicing sustainable agriculture in McDowell County; the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA); Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP); McDowell County Cooperative Extension Service (Tracy recently gave its director a tour of Earthaven); and the Alternative Technologies Program at Appalachian State University.For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org; 828-669-3937.
New Book by Earthaven Member
"This may be the most propitious moment in history to join an intentional community," advises Peak Oil author Richard Heinberg in his Foreword to the new book, Finding Community: How to Join an Ecovillage or Intentional Community. Written by Earthaven member Diana Leafe Christian, Finding Community covers how to research,visit, evaluate, and join communities. It is published by New Society Publishers and came out in May of this year. Diana is also author of Creating a Life Together: Practical Tools to Grow Ecovillages and Intentional Communities, a book about how to start successful new communities, and editor of Communities magazine.
Why A Peace Garden?
By Suchi Lathrop
Community can sometimes be an un-peaceful place, as we deal with a myriad of personalities and the rough edges of unresolved issues. And even when we are feeling peaceful in community, we can still feel deeply unsettled by our knowledge of war and oppression in the world. Of course it's not a bad thing to be moved by the plight of others, but at some point we need to collect ourselves, enjoy what we have, and creatively make our contributions. Thinking about this led me to the idea of creating a peace garden at Earthaven, where those in conflict might sit with one another to work it out, those feeling inner conflict might find some serenity, and those wanting a deeper and quiet connection to nature could find it. Community is a busy place. Perhaps the peace garden can also be a place to just slow down, or where friends can have a quiet conversation. A conversation could be entirely different in quality if it took place in a quiet, beautiful setting.
The peace garden at Earthaven, which was begun in February 2007 and should be finished by summer, is situated in the heart of the community, yet in a secluded area where bamboo grows and two creeks converge. It will have a peace pole, pathways, benches, fruit trees, and a living fence to separate it from a parking lot. An entrance archway can be added as members offer their creative suggestions and labor.
Another idea has sprung up, not yet approved, for a small bridge that would connect the garden with another park area.
After beginning the planning for the Earthaven peace garden I came across reference to another such garden in Tamera, a community in Portugal; at O.U.R. Ecovillage in British Columbia; and at Ecovillage Training Center at The Farm community in Tennessee. It seems there is a growing world consciousness that we must have peace. I like that we let our visitors know that we hold this value and make room on our land for a place to express it.
New Work Exchanger/Intern Program at A&A House
By Cealleigh Brown
This spring the A&A House began hosting a new program for interns, work exchangers, and apprentices: the Intern/Work Exchanger Management Program, or "IMP."
Interns are people who live at Earthaven for a several months in order to learn something specific, such as permaculture design or natural building. They work 20 or more hours a week and pay a fee, and receive room, board, and a program of hands-on and other kinds of educational experiences. They also work four hours a week for Earthaven.
Work exchangers, who are not part of a specific educational program and pay no fees, also live here for from several weeks to several months, and exchange 20 or more hours a week of labor for a specific Earthaven member, household, or neighborhood (and 4 hours a week for Earthaven) in trade for room and board. Apprentices are like work exchangers except that their host is an expert of some kind, and the apprentice learns a lot just by working for them.
Until we began the IMP program, a short-term resident usually lived on the homesite of their host.
The goal of the IMP program is to offer an integrated package of housing, food, a lively social life, various kinds of support, and specific educational experiences, in a way that benefits and enriches our interns, work exchangers, and apprentices, and is convenient for their hosts.
IMP is not just about indoor lodging and a meal plan, however, since people experience being part of the large, close-knit, dynamic family group at the A&A House, including participating in our busy community kitchen.
The educational aspect of the program consists of weekly classes or workshops by Earthaven members, usually one to two hours long. Recent topics and instructors have included Arjuna da Silva introducing the consensus decision-making process, Robin Allison conducting a winter plant walk, Diana Leafe Christian doing a power point presentation on the ecovillage movement, and Michaeljon Drouin leading a tour of his home in Upper Rosy Branch neighborhood and describing sustainable homesteading.
The IMP program costs $365 to $390 per person per month, for food, lodging, and administrative costs. This means the person offers labor for about $4.35 to $4.50 an hour (or less if they work more than 20 hours a week). The fee can be paid by the host or the participant, or both can share the cost. We can accommodate up to eight participants at a time. In our first season we've had four participants, and each has reported having a very positive experience here at the A&A.
Interns, work exchangers, and apprentices often like Earthaven so much they become members. In fact, all seven work exchangers or interns who now live at the A&A--those in the IMP program and those who live here because they're A&A's own work exchangers--are considering joining the community. The IMP program is a wonderful way to experience life at Earthaven in a "try-in-on-for-awhile" setting with lots of new experiences and a great sense of community connection. We look forward to having even more participants in the program this summer.
For more information about IMP or to register, please contact program administrator Cealleigh (pronounced "Kelly") Brown at 669-0027 or email her at email@example.com.
New Buildings Sprout Up in Spring
In April a site blessing ceremony was held for the new duplex apartment, "Pokeberry Hill," going up at Village Terraces. The 26 ft. x 40 ft. building is being built with lumber milled from trees felled on the land. The ground floor apartment will be the home of new Earthaven and Village Terraces members Martha Harris and Lee Finks, and the second-floor apartment will be rented out or sold to a new incoming member of the neighborhood. The ceremony included a "flower pelting" blessing of Martha Harris, the insulated concrete slab foundation, and the duplex builders Chris Farmer, Brian Love, Mike Odel, and Mihaly Bartalos. The builders expect to finish the downstairs apartment in October, and the upstairs apartment sometimes towards the end of the year.
In February of this year, Farmer, Brian, and Mike finished the first phase of a small, two-story house (18' x 20') in the Lower Rosy Branch neighborhood for long-time Earthaven member Ivy Lynn. The dwelling has a foundation, floor, walls, roof, windows, and doors, and covered with a coat of earth-plaster, which means it's closed-in and weather-tight. Ivy and the builders will finish the second and third phases of the building over the next several years.
And in May, Arjuna da Silva will get more help building her two-story natural-built home in Benchmark neighborhood. The roughly 900 "round foot" house-in-progress has a timber-framed structure, rubble-trench foundation, walls of adobe brick, cob, clay straw, and strawbale, and a brick- red metal roof. Most walls on the first floor are built, with openings for windows and doors. Arjuna will host 4-5 interns over the 18-22 week natural building season, helping build as they learn natural building techniques from Steve Brodmerkel, Mollie Curry, and others. For more information: www.thenaturalbuildingschool.org. All buildings at Earthaven are south-facing passive solar buildings, heated by the sun. They're off the grid, either powered by individually owned photovoltaic systems or Earthaven's micro-hydro system, and most have metal roofs for roof-water catchment. See Natural Buildings.
Lyndon Felps became a full member at our Sunday, April 22 Council meeting. He celebrated his leap over the candle by leapfrogging over it, to much laughter and applause, then making lots of happy-sounding monkey screeches as we lifted him up and sang our welcome song. Lyndon was born and raised in Texas. He was an ecological activist with Rhizome Collective, an ecologically based urban community in Austin; was active in Austin's local currency system; and worked as a handyperson and owner of an animal control business. He has been visiting Earthaven for extended periods since 2001, and moved here in 2006. He lives at the A&A House in Medicine Wheel neighborhood, and will probably lease a full homesite in Medicine Wheel. He's helping to create a plan for the A&A House to become the community building for the whole neighborhood. In this plan, Medicine Wheel neighbors will live in small dwellings on nearby homesites and use the A&A House's facilities (kitchen, dining room, living room, office, shower, bathroom). Lyndon works as a counselor at nearby Stone Mountain School, and has started up his animal control business in Asheville. He is active on Earthaven's CurrentSee committee.
Our newest Provisional Member is Rae Jean. At our Sunday, March 25th Council meeting, she celebrated her leap over the candle with a full-on cartwheel and much applause before we lifted her up high over our heads and sang. Rae Jean has always loved nature and felt close to the Earth, and lived for many years in the mountains of Colorado, where she was a farmer-homesteader and herbalist. She's been visiting Earthaven since 2004, and became an Exploring Member in 2006. She works as operations manager and customer fulfillment at Red Moon Herbs and serves on the Forestry and Agriculture and Membership committees. She and fellow Earthaven members Clark Goslee and Peggy Austin recently purchased Brandon Greenstein's house and homesite Settler's Creek neighborhood. (Brandon, his wife Tanya, and their three girls are moving to a homesite in nearby One Stone community, and Brandon will still be involved in Earthaven.) Rae Jean, Clark, and Peggy intend to micro-farm their new homesite extensively, and to develop the Settler's Creek neighborhood.
Duplex Apartment for Sale, Under Construction at Village Terraces Spacious, open "Great Room" floor plan, 3 bedrooms, full bath, quality construction. Cozy, passive-solar 925-heated SF plus covered decks, storage, and utility room. Radiant floor heat, solar hot water, and photovoltaic and hydroelectric power. Local, natural, recycled, and zero-VOC materials throughout. Total cost, including duplex, Earthaven Site Lease, and Village Terraces neighborhood's common infrastructure fee, estimated around $200,000. See www.earthaven.org/village-terraces.
Hobbit House for Sale The Hobbit House and homesite in Lower Rosy Branch neighborhood are for sale. One-bedroom two-story house (constructed of adobe bricks, cordwood, earthbag, and other natural building materials) with round "hobbit" front door, cabin, detached bedroom, pond, orchard, two greenhouses. Gardens on three roofs. PV solar energy system. $80,000, doesn't include site lease fee or joining fee. Rod Rylander: www.rrylander.com; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Strawbale Hut for Sale in Hut Hamlet Small two-story strawbale hut in the Hut Hamlet for sale for $15,000. Includes Sun Frost refrigerator, propane stove and oven, and solar panels & PV system. Available late June or early July. Also available for rent, for $200/month. Greg Clark: email@example.com; 828-337-8683.
Overnight Lodging at Earthaven at A&A House Single, double, and dorm accommodations in large, friendly shared house at Earthaven, where you can meet Earthaven work exchangers, members, and other visitors and share delicious organic, vegetarian meals. Somewhat rustic accommodations; indoor and outdoor composting toilets; shower facilities down the hall. $30 for a private room for 1-2 people plus children, $15 for bunk bed in dorm space. $5 one-time charge for sheets & towels, or bring your own. $8 for meals. Cealleigh Brown, 828-664-0067.
Overnight Lodging at Earthaven in Kitchenette Studio Overnight lodging for visitors to Earthaven in "Dogwood," a furnished studio apartment for a single visitor, two visitors, a couple, or a couple and a child. Small fold-out futon and a queen-sized bed in sleeping loft. Propane two-burner cookstove, kitchen sink, basic kitchen supplies, shared refrigerator behind building. Prepare your own meals and/or have meals at A&A Guest House. Woodstove, composting toilet nearby, shower & tub in attached greenhouse. One of the most beautifully crafted and smallest (8' x 13') spaces at Earthaven. Rosetta Neff or Diana Christian: 828-669-9702; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Forestry Cooperative Hardwood Tongue & Groove Flooring Sustainably harvested from Earthaven Ecovillage. Trees were selectively logged using timber-stand improvement techniques. All processing was done on-site or through locally owned, small businesses within 30 miles of Asheville. Red Maple, Red Oak, Birch. Will deliver and install. Mihaly: 669-4328; Mihaly@earthaven.org.
Cottage for Rent at Green Oaks Community in North Asheville Available June 1st. One-bedroom cottage, propane stove and heat, hardwood floors, covered porch, basement with washer-dryer hookup and organic garden space on 5 acres with 3 other homes. $430/mo & utilities & deposit. Valerie Naiman: email@example.com, or call Joy, 828-252-8215, or Steve, 828-254-5613.
White Owl Lodge and Trading Post at Earthaven for Lease or Sale Contact Valerie Naiman for details: Valerie@earthaven.org.
Aristotle Gathering Rod Rylander is organizing the Aristotle Gathering next Dec 28-Jan 24 at the Costa Rica International Center for Sustainability located at the tip of the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica. For more information: www.rrylander.com; firstname.lastname@example.org.