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Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

Earthaven Ecovillage

Permaculture and Community in North Carolina

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February 17, 2017
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Earthaven is an aspiring ecovillage in a mountain forest setting near Asheville, North Carolina. We are dedicated to caring for people and the Earth by learning, living, and demonstrating a holistic, sustainable culture.

Since 1995, we have grown to 55 full and associate members from twenty-somethings to elders, plus infants through young teens. We hope to grow to 150 people. We are building homes in 14 neighborhoods and developing on-site businesses as part of our own village‑scale economy.  ~Earthaven Website

John Shimkus and Dana Lagomarsino visit Earthaven Ecovillage. John actually spent the summer there one year as a work-exchange volunteer learning about permaculture, earthen building, and the communal way of life. John even used the experience as a reference point for his Master's thesis.

Earthaven is nestled in the Black Mountains about 40 minutes outside of Asheville, North Carolina. It rests on approximately 320 acres of resource abundant land, with flowing streams and natural spring water. The community is off the grid, creating its own energy through solar systems and a micro-hydroelectric generator.

Earthaven utilizes permaculture design principles to construct earthen houses and practice sustainable agriculture. There are edible and medicinal gardens all over the community, as well as humanely raised livestock which are integrated into the living system as fertilizers and garbage composters, making use of their existence beyond just meat and dairy production. Since 1995 the community has served as a model for truly sustainable living.

Through their consensus governance model, all members of Earthaven are welcome to participate in the governance process. This is radically different from traditional majority-vote, allowing for everyone in the community to have a say in the future of their ecovillage.

Earthaven is not a commune, and members possess their own private funds. There are several small businesses on-site, and many members offer consulting and educational services that help spread awareness about their lifestyle. However, the community does incorporate their own monetary unit, called the "leap," into their economic system. This allows community members to trade goods and services amongst one another within the community. Someone, for example, could exchange a massage for some home-grown berries, or an hour of labor.

There are several opportunities to visit Earthaven and learn first-hand what truly sustainable living is all about. You can schedule a guided tour, or become a work-exchange volunteer (like John did) to gain hands-on experience.

For more information, schedule a tour, or become a volunteer, visit the Earthaven website


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