Earthaven Ecovillage Newsletter

News Notes
Sorry to our subscribers for the long gap between this and our last newsletter.  Much has been going on at Earthaven despite our silence! Some of these are covered in this newsletter; another issue is planned for release in about six weeks. If you want to continue to be on our newsletter list, please click the radio button. 

Five Icelandic Sheep have arrived at Brian and Farmer's Gateway Farm. They are considered good breeds for milk, meat and wool. In April we expect a group lambing. Cute! Cute! Cute! 

Michaeljon is rebounding wonderfully from bypass surgery, having only just come back from a trip to Machu Picchu, with Kiesa, when we were all surprised by his sudden illness.

Village Terraces neighborhood cleared another three-plus acres of land on the west side of the complex. And Martha and Finch moved into their downstairs flat next door at "Pokeberry Hill."

Andy and Julie are expanding their biodynamic Yellowroot Farm by clearing close to an acre near the new campground. Their second CSA-season is just about sold out.

Chuck just returned from a permaculture teaching and design sojourn in Jamaica. Since he and Marjorie were married last Thanksgiving, life has gotten fuller than ever, as activities resume to move his Useful Plants Nursery to an officially leased ag site near the former campground. Chuck's apprentice of the past year, Bruce Johnston, is about to become a new Full Member and a co-lessee on the site.

Folks from the Mediation Center in Asheville, through their federally funded Community Mediation Project, have twice (at our request!) sent a skilled mediator to help us communicate more effectively and prepare the ground to go deeper into some of our hotter issues. Some members have said they plan to take mediation training at the Center this season.

Jill graduated from Gaia University's Masters program and intends to bring Gaia students to Earthaven for accredited learning experiences. Soon-to-be Provisional Member Mana McLeod has now enrolled in the Masters program as well. 

The line to board the Membership Train continues its steady flow. There are currently still eight Provisional Members living on the land and another five Exploring Members, two of whom have already begun the Provisional application process. 

Greg has gotten the Earthaven weather station up and running.  You can get very up-to- date information by going to and clicking on the weather link. More detail in the next newsletter.

by Suchi and Arjuna

Dancing With The Elements
In the last year Earthaven has felt the power of all four elements.  Twice we have experienced mild earth tremors; a few weeks ago we woke to the sound of trees cracking and crashing to the ground under the accumulated weight of an overnight ice storm; and mid February we were visited by high winds that pushed a neighboring fire onto our land and up to, though not across, the threshold of the house in Hawk Hollow.

We know we’ve been fortunate to not suffer grave losses through any of these encounters.  We are using the experiences, especially the fire, to revisit our need to have emergency procedures in place.  More folks are showing an interest in safety committee meetings and discussions are taking place to explore possibilities for organizing ourselves to better meet such challenges.

by Melissa

Are You Hep?
This summer, Earthaven members learned the hard way that an innocent trip to another country can create a huge problem on many levels. After several months in South America, one long-time member came home unknowingly infected with the Hepatitis A virus, suffered non-specific symptoms from it, and then unknowingly passed it on to another member, who then of course accidentally passed it on to a few others. The person who came down the hardest with the virus wound up at an emergency care center and was quickly diagnosed with Hep A (considered the least dangerous of the three viruses that attack the liver). The epidemic was contained fairly quickly, and future travelers abroad may be asked to have themselves tested for key communicable diseases upon their return. We certainly recommend to all our members and friends to be more "hep" during and after their travels abroad.

Visits from our local Health Department followed immediately, and though we eventually figured out how the outbreak began, their first suspicion was our drinking water. Some taps tested showed a minimal amount of coliform, not from the spring but due to improper handling of the tap. More important, their investigation brought to light the N.C. state requirement that limits the number of people sharing one potable water source to 24 or fewer 25. Fortunately for Earthaven, we have already tapped several springs and are working on a plan to create discrete “water districts” that will serve our neighborhoods as we grow.

The investigation also set specific limits on serving the public, including a prohibition against offering our untreated spring water to the "unsuspecting public." We witnessed the drilling of the first well ever at Earthaven [see article this issue], after which we will soon be able to offer water for all uses to day guests and campers alike.

To visit Earthaven, please contact our visitor line, (828) 669-3937, or write

By Arjuna

Drilling the Borehole Well
After the Hepatitis A outbreak last Spring, the Health Department informed us we needed an approved water source - a borehole well - in order to be open to the public, host campers, and hold classes and events. These activities are essential to Earthaven's mission, so Council has approved expenditures for drilling the well and connecting its bounty to those sites used by our visitors.  After much time spent preparing and, of course, waiting, we had the well site above the new campground approved and access to it ready for the heavy rig to drill it.

Farmer, Geoff, and Alice witnessed the operation.   The rig was something else. Suspended on hydraulic jacks with a 40 foot tower holding the motor running the drill, it had a rack of fifteen 20-foot-long hollow drill rods. First a 12-inch hole through the clay was drilled; then they switched to a 10-inch bit at twenty feet, hitting water and soft bedrock at forty feet. After another fifteen feet, they got to hard bedrock. They had to place steel casing at least five feet into hard bedrock, and then pour cement between the casing and the borehole, in order to seal out all debris and surface water. 

Just to remind us that big expensive machines are not perfect, a few glitches held up the drilling. The bit got stuck in the hole; it took about a half hour of juddering to free it. Then the hammer drill bit jammed, and another half hour of mechanical bashing did nothing. So they applied a mammoth, powered monkey wrench which promptly broke, flinging an iron jaw at the mud bank. Fortunately no one was in its path.   

Finally, a 6-inch bit was used to continue drilling into bedrock while pouring bentonite plus cement between the casing and the borehole. At 5:45 pm, they were 170 feet into the ground and were getting a trickle of water. Meanwhile cement and bentonite were flowing out of openings between the casing and borehole as fast as they piped it in: it would have to settle overnight. 

Next day, in the rain: drill twenty feet, unscrew the rod from the drill, attach another 20-foot rod, drill, drill, drill. Finally, at circa 340 feet, they hit water. The usual deal is to drill another sixty feet to see if the fracture area will yield more water. It did; we ended up with twenty gallons a minute (our minimum need was ten) and a static level (where the water level is at resting state) only fifteen feet below ground level. This is good news, because we will need only a small pump to raise the water up to a holding tank. From there, we'll run pipe down to the campground, the Council Hall, and the Trading Post. 

The drilling cost, around $5,500, and the solar panels, pump, and pipes will cost another $10,000. We anticipate a total of close to $30,000 for labor and materials when we're done. Most of our own labor comes from commmunity service hours.  This expense  is financialy demanding for a cash poor organization like Earthaven.  Please help us meet the growing demands from the public for day and overnight tours.  Your support is not tax deductible at this time, but still can help Earthaven community meet its mission. Many thanks  from the vigilantes: Farmer, Geoff, and Alice. 

by  Alice

Trading Post Re-opens
Finally, an Earthaven office! And, in addition, an internet and coffee spot with goods from our neighbors, a warm place filled with information and other enticements. This comforting venue now exists and just the thought of it brings some kind of shift in our collective energy, much needed after a challenging year and cold winter. Our creative staffing includes 20 weekly hours of approved community service hours and 20 hours donated by the managers and another community member. Thanks to Jen, Cealleigh, redmoonsong, Jack, River Otter and Kai, and many others who helped with the details of getting set up.

Now, at the end of week four, the work goes on! The possibilities keep expanding for this small and lovely space. Right now, visitors stop at the Trading Post at the end of the tour to chat with members and pick up additional Earthaven literature. Here's where about-to-become Provisional Member Mana McLeod connects with her courses from Gaia University, and where Suchi, one of the managers, plays Scrabble with a neighbor who stops to drop off her honey, dried shiitakes, and umeboshi plums. At the administrative level, we are also here to have an ongoing update of our database. Meanwhile, members come to pick up eggs from a local farmer, and our gifted craftspeople can showcase their wares. Upcoming events, committee and Council minutes, and other important announcements and information are posted inside and outside. The "News of the Neighborhoods" section is beginning. We hope to increase the amount of information posted to include jobs needed and labor available, housing needed and available, and so on. We post ways people can earn community service hours (LEAPS) and items for sale/barter/giveaway.

In the ideal future, we will double in size so that office and internet space are separate from socializing space. We are open to many other ways to serve the community in the future. As we plan to renew our lease, we have begun to think about bringing our mailroom nearby.  Can we centralize and coordinate rides to town? Post general messages, needs for assistance, interest groups forming, etc.? 

Please stop by.  Our spring hours are Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 10-6; Saturday 11-4 and Sunday 11-2.  Meetings and small events can be scheduled for times we are not open. Come check us out.

by Sue and Suchi

Arts At The Edge

hand and spiralCulture’s Edge, the educational non-profit that has offered classes for years, has recently expanded its services.  A highlight of 2007 was the receipt of our first grant, from the Resourceful Communities Program of the Conservation Fund.  We used the funding to strengthen relationships between farmers in several counties and support their marketing efforts.  We also strengthened our own organization’s development by hiring Kimchi Rylander as Executive Director.  Kimchi has been a volunteer and staff of Culture’s Edge for many years, so we are delighted with her increased level of responsibility.

We have also become the umbrella organization for independent educational projects, including the Forest Children Program, Camp Katuah, The Natural Building School, Patricia Allison and Friends’ Sustainable Living Skills internships and classes, and a program we simply call Earthaven Ecovillage, our volunteers who host tours and facilitate long-term on-site work study opportunities.

This year we are planning to sponsor workshops in Qigong, The Power of Manifestation, Homeopathy, and Plant Wisdom.  See for a listing of current classes, or call 669-8896.  Tax-deductible donations of any size can be earmarked for any of these programs.  You can support scholarships for education, or tell us that you want us to use your donation wherever it’s most needed for education and outreach. 

Culture’s Edge was established as a not-for-profit company in 1996, shortly after Earthaven was formed. Culture’s Edge was a way to focus our passion for education and create opportunities for livelihood.  At first we offered courses in the three areas central to our own development: permaculture, natural building, and consensus decision making.  Over time, training in the agricultural arts, building arts, communication arts, and healing arts were added, filling almost every weekend from May through October for several years running.

 While focusing on internal reorganization in 2006, we slowed down and most of the classes held that year were privately organized.  This past year, the introduction of Health Dept. requirements into Earthaven’s midst (see article, Are You Hep?) cut short our educational calendar for the season, which, though hard on the village economy, did give us the opportunity to consider how our future plans might branch out.  In particular, we feel excited about expanding longer-term internship programs, in which the opportunities for life changing experiences are the greatest.

 For more information about how you can support Culture’s Edge with your tax deductible donation, go to this link: or contact Tracy Kunkler,

This year, Culture’s Edge is offering the courses and programs that nurture a healthy & sustainable world and offer you practical solutions.  Our programs are taught by a dynamic team of instructors and contribute to Earthaven’s village economy.

2008 Calendar Listing of Events

Permaculture Design Course: 7 Weekends at Earthaven Ecovillage
with Patricia Allison, Chuck Marsh, and Rudy Ballentine M.D.
April 18–20, May 17–18, June 21–22, July 19–20, August 16–17, September 13–14, October 11–12,

Email:  or call (828) 664-7632 or visit

Sustainable Life Skills Permaculture Internship at Earthaven Ecovillage
 with Patricia Allison, Chuck Marsh, and Rudy Ballentine M.D.
 April 12th thru June 15th, September 1st thru November 8

Email:   or call (828) 664-7632 or visit

Camp Katuah – Residential Permaculture Summer Camp for boys and girls, 7-15 years old  near Raleigh, NC at William B. Umstead State Park.

Session One - June 30 - July 6 for campers 7-11 years old                                                                                         
Cost for Session One is $450

Session Two - July 21 - August 3 for campers 11-15 years old, or entering 6th - 10th grades                    
Cost for Session Two is $900
Email: or call (828) 664-7632 or visit

Click here for more class information!

Forest Children Program Publishes Their First Book

The Forest Children Program (FCP) has been celebrating a big accomplishment. The students published a book entitled Princess Gilanee, about how Princess Gilanee and her horse, Pal, united the elements of Earth, Water, Air, and Fire to bring peace to their community.

The book was one of the focal points of last year's curriculum for this integrative homeschool resource and enrichment program, now in its fifth year at Earthaven. The program includes Earthaven members' children and children from local families as well. It currently involves less than a dozen children, ages 6 through 12, and meets three days a week, weaving together individual homeschooling and a supplemental experiential program that provides each child with personal attention and focus.

When Kiesa Kay became coordinator of the FCP in 2006, she came with a project. Her author friend, Robin Carrington, dying from melanoma. asked her friend Kiesa to finish a book Robin had begun but would not be able to finish. She feared her children and grandchildren wouldn't be able to hear her stories about Princess Gilanee.

Kiesa brought the two chapters Robin had completed to the Forest Children, and they immediately offered to help. After reviewing the mind map for the book, their creative work began. Dylan, Cory, Noah, Nimuae, Soleil, Malachi, and Yeshua worked together through the school year to bring the book to life.

Princess Gilanee tells the story of how one girl and her horse succeeded in uniting feuding tribes  by helping them realize they were all one tribe and must work together. Along the journey, Gilanee makes important discoveries about herself, as well.

The children visualized the homes, clothes, and conversations of the various Earth, Water, Air and Fire element people. They acted out scenes that hadn't been written yet, working with the ideas they'd added to Robin's original vision. The completed version says a lot about being one with nature and living joyfully. The coordinator typed up their stories, blending them with Robin's work, and arranged for the book to be published through Sheridan Books and Bremner Press. The story of Princess Gilanee and the element people appeals to adults and children, with its timeless message of one tribe, love, and resilience.

Princess Gilanee is available for a $10 donation to the Forest Children Program. Checks can be made out to the Forest Children's Program and mailed to:

Forest Children Program
c/o Kiesa Kay
1035 Camp Elliott Rd.
Black Mountain, NC 28711 

Donations account for about 40% of the FCP's income (tuition accounts for the rest). Your contribution helps keep the Forest Children Program open and thriving. Your donation can also help support the funding of a playground by designating the purpose of your gift on your check.

by Tracy & Kiesa

The Forest Children Program Vision
We envision a world of people living sustainably, thinking independently, making decisions cooperatively, nurturing healthy children, families and communities, and allowing the flow of divine spirit through everything.

We take advantage of our natural setting in the Appalachian mountains of western North Carolina to encourage each child to develop a deeper understanding of the cycles of nature and sustainable stewardship of the earth.

Kids’ Space News
Nothing is what it seems at Earthaven! For example, once upon a time in this experiment to create a different kind of life, the testing of building styles—which calls for a lot of creativity—was a top priority. “Time is money” was thrown out the window; projects could take years to complete, if at all. This can get pretty frustrating, especially when it comes time to turn a little mud-walled experiment into a useful space, not to mention something it wasn’t intended to be. This is the ballad of the languishing Hamlet Kitchen Annex.

At last, several Earthaven women began to promote the importance of having more indoor space for children. It would be nice for us to have a space right near the Hamlet kitchen, and it might be also attractive to other families with children. If we built some play room, would they find us more child friendly? And come visit more?

The plan was made and approved to let the Three-(or Four-) Women-and-a-Toolbox crew (plus friends) turn the Annex into The Kidspace We’ve Been Waiting For. Once again, building construction seems to be the solution to life’s problems.

Three-Women and their friends can dedicate time to this project because we are all child-free. Four child-free people are creating a place for children, yes, but we’re listening. The moms, and child caregivers, and teachers are in the lead about how the kids’ space will be managed, and we’re looking forward to getting toys, books, and movable furniture in there once the work is done.

If you’d like to contribute to our kids’ fun and games, please consider donations of books, games, or even suggestions of your children’s favorites. Cash contributions also will be well used.

by Mana  and Arjuna

Click Here to Contribute to the Kids' Space!

Camp Katuah
Camp Katuah is a permaculture-based residentiual camp for children age 7 to 14. Unique in its vision and focus, Camp Katuah offers children of the greater eco-spiritual community an opportunity for enhancing their roles as future earth stewards and healthy communitarians, and having a great time! We look forward to hosting Camp Katuah at Earthaven once we’ve created adequate facilities on our own land. In the meantime, the camp’s first time run will be held at the established state park in Raleigh. Cealleigh (pronounced Kelly) Brown teaches permaculture with Patricia Allison, and is the camp’s director. Please check out the calendar of events (see above) or go to the website – – and pass on this info to anyone who might be interested.

Click Here For More Information!

Earthaven Trout Pond
In March of last year, 200 four to five-inch Rainbow Trout were stocked by me in our small pond by the hydropower plant. The month beforehand, Andy and I raised the height of the existing pond level by four inches by installing an overflow pipe that would return all of the water to Rosy Branch Creek. This four-inch pipe was designed to allow several irrigation options downhill or to channel the water to other ponds. This formerly stagnant pond received extra life and oxygenation when we ran 400 feet of inch-and-a-quarter pipe upstream to achieve enough "head" to lift the water over the bank into the pond. The pond already contained thousands of pollywogs, and the young fry gorged themselves. Some of them grew at the rate of one-and-a-half inches per month.   This year, Andy has promised to help me install a small electric light overhanging the far end of the pond, which will help bugs fall into the water for more natural food, in addition to the conventional feed. In this way, thanks to our hydropower generator, the stream will still indirectly feed the trout . . . pretty cool.   I figure last year we lost about forty percent of the trout to turtles and great blue herons. When we made the primary harvest in October, we were delighted that some of the trout had reached seventeen inches. There was also one six-inch rainbow that had different markings; I am convinced that it entered the pond through the inch-and-a-quarter pipe as an egg or a fingerling, and that the Great Spirit also had stocked our pond from Rosy Branch Creek.   My primary goal was to provide an opportunity for Full Members and their children to catch, eat, and simply observe these beautiful fish. This year, we plan on stocking 250 fingerlings and on getting the turtles relocated quicker. 

Michaeljon Drouin

• • • •