Here’s the latest from our ecovillage-in-progress in the heart of Mendocino—where we’ve got a one-month Sustainability Immersion in the works for June/July. Be sure to read the description below.
In summary, 2016 was a challenging year at LEV due to a shortage of labor on the land, but many transformations took place. We did extensive landscaping, planted more fruit trees, and created a spiral permaculture garden at the front of the property. We have several new raised beds where we’re building soil, completed the tear-down and clean-up of the old carport and set in place posts for a privacy fence that will also serve as an eventual storage structure. And we got so busy we forgot to get the Fall newsletter out, so if you missed it or were wondering why you didn’t see one then, well, we had our hands full!
We also completed the first round of renovations on the “farm house” that was built in the late 1940’s. The original fir floors have been restored, painting was done (of course with all Low-to-No VOC paints), furnishings brought in, and a beautiful kitchen counter revamped with a reclaimed redwood slab loving crafted by a local artisan. We also installed our fourth solar system: a solar thermal hot water heater with electric heating back-up. Since we have a grid-tied photovoltaic system in place this union of “solar thermal” as the primary heat source and “solar electric” as a back-up puts us one step closer to achieving “net zero energy.” (More on this in a future issue.)
We also purchased a fantastic new tool: a chipper-shredder that we can use to transform an overabundance of small diameter wood into wood chips! The garden pathways now have wood chips over cardboard sheet mulch producing an abundance of mycelium which in turn contributes to the soil health of the adjacent garden. And it looks good, too!
Going Forward: 2017 and the Role of Intentional Communities
After the election I was determined not to write about politics in the newsletter, but since then it feels inevitable to talk about the current political climate as it’s consuming most of us in ways we never imagined. What does the future hold for us: a sustainable future or another holocaust? Once I heard that researchers at the Department of Energy working on climate change were being put on a “list” I knew that now, more than ever, the sustainability and social justice movements are more important than ever.
There’s now plenty of talk in the larger sustainability movement about the importance of ecovillages, permaculture, co-housing, renewable energy, etc. Like all of the front-line fights we need to sustain in the new political climate, we need to stay the course towards a sustainable future. We have to keep our visions clear and work together to keep on keeping on, even in the face of adversity. And we need to support each other in movement so that we can create refuges for sanity, social justice, and sustainability!
We’ve taken a step back on how to present “parcels for sale” at the Laytonville Ecovillage. We’re leaning now more towards a “green neighborhood” rather than an “ecovillage,” proper, because while the latter is an exciting movement for those who are familiar with them, or live in one, it’s still very much outside the mainstream and difficult for people to grasp. So it’s one step back, two steps forward, and we’ll be re-listing parcels in March or April.
Real estate tours by appointment
We’re designing a one-month “sustainability immersion” at LEV starting mid June and going through mid July. Rather than hosting another Permaculture Design Course, we wanted to create a broader scope of what “sustainability” is and have more time for hands-on projects. We’ll be covering the fundamentals of regenerative design including an expanded section on social permaculture, rebuilding the Rocket Stove hot water heater, getting our feet muddy in the cob, and learning about current trends in green building. We will also be installing a small off-grid solar system and learn the fundamentals of how solar works for numerous applications (and how the world can shift to renewables and fully phase out non-renewable energy!).
We’ll revamp a branch-drained greywater system, examine the soil and water abundance in the existing mulch basin, and learn about the larger significance of water, how to counter-act the drought, hydrology, etc.
The last week will conclude with an overview of the Intentional Community movement, look at the various examples of successful sustainable communities, and address many of the legal restrictions, pitfalls, and challenges that come with buying land and embarking on a sustainable vision. The Laytonville Ecovillage is a living laboratory offering insights in how to deal with county and state regulators, zoning, codes and permits, difficult neighbors, and how you can fit a round peg into a square hole!
You can take the entire course or participate in one of the one week sessions. (Pricing to be determined but as of this writing our ballpark figure for the entire month will be only $1,200! Early bird pricing to be announced soon!)
The goal is to cover a broad range of topics with a very large theme of “sustainability.” We’ll take weekends off to rest and integrate the information we took in during the week, have fun, and explore Mendocino. We’ll also take several field trips to local sites demonstrating various aspects of sustainability, natural building, rocket stove technology, etc.
For information about the Immersion, go to permacultureecovillage.com/lev2017/
2017 Work Trade Opportunities
Work trade involves fifteen hours of work a week in exchange for living on ten acres of beautiful Mendocino County land.
We are a small but growing community and 2017 is a big year for prospective buyers and investors. We hope to see new long-term ecovillagers coming on-board. The size of the community will depend on who shows up for work-trade, internships, and buyers/investors. Long-term work trade opportunities will be considered this year as the community grows.
You will be sharing the land with the residents of the Laytonville Ecovillage.
Work trade tasks include the following:
- General cleaning and organizing.
- Assisting in various permaculture and natural building projects.
- Making supply runs to town.
- Brush clearing and trail maintenance.
- Maintaining campgrounds.
- Assisting with various construction projects.
- Mowing, watering, and tending to lawn, landscapes and gardens.
- Making dump/recycling runs.
- Orienting in-coming students and new work-traders.
- Answering and directing phone calls for the Laytonville Ecovillage
- Assorted tasks as needed.
Most tasks are light impact. You will not be expected to exceed your physical limits. You will not have to work in poison oak if you’re sensitive but there is a lot of poison oak on the land—if you’re highly sensitive please note this in your application.
If you have any particular skills and talents to offer as part of your work trade please let us know. We’d love it if someone could build a chicken tractor this year!
Accommodations include use of outdoor kitchen, solar and on-demand showers, common areas, Wi-Fi. Sleeping accommodations are currently limited to tent camping. We can provide you with a comfortable tent if you don’t have one. You’re welcome to bring a trailer or RV.
To apply for Work Trade opportunities, download this PDF application form. Using Acrobat Reader, fill out the fields in the form. IMPORTANT: After completing the form, “Save As” the pdf to your computer, renaming it “LEVwork-trade2017_YourName.pdf” and email it as an attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “Work Trade Application.” Applications can also be printed and mailed to Dan Antonioli, P.O. Box 914, Laytonville 95454. We will respond within two to three weeks.
For more information or to arrange a visit, email Dan at email@example.com or call: 707-984-6536.