Earthaven Images Autumn 2015

Beautiful photos by NikiAnne Feinburg! Click on each photo to see it full size.

Fall Foliage at Earthaven

Fall Foliage at Earthaven

Jack-o-Lanterns for Halloween

Jack-o-Lanterns for Halloween

Beautiful artwork adorns a bridge at Earthaven, thanks to Travis Robb and Gaspar Robles

Beautiful artwork adorns a bridge at Earthaven, thanks to Travis Robb and Gaspar Robles

The sign at the Free Store, Earthaven's thrift store, where everything is free

The sign at the Free Store, Earthaven’s thrift store, where everything is free

The Free Store, Earthaven's thrift shop, where everything is free

The Free Store, Earthaven’s thrift shop, where everything is free

Equinox and Eggs

Happy Spring Equinox! At Earthaven we are singing and drumming at sunrise, and holding a children’s ritual and egg hunt. There are two equinoxes each year, when the tilt of the Earth’s axis is inclined neither away from nor towards the Sun, the center of the Sun being in the same plane as the Earth’s equator.

A few years ago, our interns at Imani Farm, NikiAnne and Drew, told us about a rumor that at the equinox, eggs would balance perfectly upright when put on end on a flat surface, because of the tilt of the earth at that time.

egg at equinox

Well, Lee and the interns got down on the floor in the Village Terraces Common Kitchen and, after some effort, balanced the egg! The only thing is, we never tried it when it wasn’t equinox, so for all we know, we could balance an egg like this any day of the year.
🙂

Imani Farm chickens are pastured and receive soy-free, organic feed. A limited number of their eggs are available in Asheville. No GMOs! When you go to the farmer’s market, please check with your local egg farmer to see if they are using conventional feed (GMO) and, if so, tell them you want to pay more for GMO-free eggs. Let’s use our consumer buying power to support organic feed rather than Monsanto GMOs!

Try this at home!

Try this at home!

Green Alternative to Bleach and Cleaners

I have been delighted to discover a product offered at Shangri-Laundry that is effective for laundry and household cleaning and is environmentally friendly.  I call it “enviro-oxy” because its real name, sodium percarbonate, is such a mouthful.

You mix this powder with water in varying proportions to provide stain-remover, laundry booster, surface cleaner, and so on. It is excellent for cleaning and removing organic stains (such as coffee, tea, wine, fruit juices, foods, sauces, grass and blood) from fabrics, plastics, fiberglass, porcelain, ceramics, wood, carpets, asphalt, concrete, etc. Don’t use it on wool or silk, however.

Greg Geis, laundry designer, researched to be sure that Enviro-Oxy would be safe for Earthaven’s water.  After use, it breaks down to oxygen and baking soda. Sodium Percarbonate (Enviro-Oxy) is the underlying ingredient of Oxi-Clean products.

I was very pleasantly surprised to find out how effective it is for a variety of uses. Like Greg, I am a convert and use it regularly. It comes in one-cup bags, which last a long time because a little bit goes a long way.

When you get some for the first time, you can also pick up a printed sheet of all the ways to mix it and use it. There are also helpful instructions on the web. The enviro-oxy bags and the instruction sheets are in the product cabinet pictured here.

Below is a wider shot of Shangri-Laundry and the products cabinet. The products are self-serve: select what you want, put the money in a small envelope with your name, and drop it in the cash box on top of the cabinet. If you need change, go next door to the home of laundry manager Diana Leafe Christian.

Shangri-Laundry

The Shangri-Laundry is located in the basement of this building

In June 2011 the Forest Garden Neighborhood welcomed Shangri-Laundry, a self-service laundromat that is convenient, green, and clean. Parking is available just past the building. There is one double-load washer and one double-load propane dryer, so you can reserve time online for hassle-free scheduling. The primary source of electricity is the photovoltaic array pictured to the left of the building.

    My neighborhood (Village Terraces) has a shared washer, but I like to use Shangri-Laundry when the weather is too rainy for outdoor drying. And, I often sleep too late to get my wash hung on the line in time to dry. 🙂

 

Diana Leafe Christian organized the laundry coop and the system was designed by Greg Geis. It is easy to use. When you walk into the nice, cool basement, this motion-sensor light comes on, so you can see to put your laundry in the washer before inserting money that starts your timed access to electricity: lights, washer, dryer, and DSL broadband Internet.

First you insert bills ($5 or $1)

Then start the on-demand hot water heater (unless you are doing a cold wash)

Then you add soap (supplied for you) and start the washer

 

The laundry supplies environmentally friendly laundry soap and booster for you to use at no extra charge, as well as about eco-cleaners you can buy at Shangri-Laundry.

While the washer is running, you can hang out on the sofa and go online or read magazines that are provided. You can lock yourself in for privacy (and there are toilet facilities). There are plans to install a bathtub later, so you will be able to relax in a hot bath while the machines spin!

 

Here is Greg moving his laundry from the washer up to the dryer. Both the washer and dryer are energy-efficient and have multiple settings from heavy-duty to delicate. The front-loading washer is gentle on your clothes. It senses the size of the load and adjusts the amount of water accordingly. The dryer can be set for a timed cycle or to sense when your clothes are dry. The length of washer and dryer cycles can vary based on the load size and the options you select.

 

 

When you are down to your last 15 minutes (a dollar’s worth of time), a constant beeping will start and this blue light will blink. You can press the blue button to stop the beeping if you don’t need any more time. Insert another dollar as needed to keep the electricity going until you are done.

 

There are many helpful signs to guide you through the steps. The Shangri-Laundry is available for Earthaven residents, visitors, and neighbors. We hope it will help make our lives more sustainable by letting folks avoid a trip into town to do laundry. We are interested in feedback to make the laundry meet your needs–please “like” us and stay in touch on our Facebook Page.

Tomato Project at Village Terraces

There is a cooperative tomato project going on at Village Terraces. Provisional members eli and Jonathan are partnering with the Imani Farm Coop (Mihaly, Lee, Martha, & Finch), along with work exchanger Liz, to grow a variety of tomatoes to be sold fresh and turned into value-added products, such as canned tomato sauce.

Many members of the ecovillage have pitched in to help at all stages of the project. We started by letting our pigs roam in the lower Imani field to root up weeds. Then came the hard work of preparing the soil, setting in posts, planting, mulching, tying up the plants, watering, etc. The Village Terraces Garden Coop lent some of its irrigation equipment to the tomato project.

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Now we are harvesting, eating, and processing! There are beefsteak tomatoes, plum tomatoes, salad tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, etc. The fresh tomatoes are available in the Village Terraces Common Kitchen. More photos below:

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Salvation Alley Cleanup – Slide Shows

Today Mihaly and Tom focalized a community work day to clean up Salvation Alley. It was amazing how much was accomplished!

I don’t have a before picture yet. In the meantime, I have made a couple of slide shows of the experience. I’m a beginner at the slide show thing, so let me know if they don’t work for you….

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Here is another slide show. For some reason the captions are off.

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Prevent Birds from Striking Windows

Our passive solar home--Photo by Caroline Williford

Millions of birds are killed each year when they strike windows of homes and offices. I used to worry about cats killing birds, but window strikes are a significantly bigger problem. Here at Earthaven, our passive solar homes have large, south-facing windows that can be lethal for wild birds.

I was distraught last spring when a bluebird father and the fledgling he was feeding both hit our building at high speed. I tried out a simple, inexpensive technique that was described on David Sibley’s website, and it has virtually eliminated the problem of birds striking our windows.

Just get a flourescent yellow highlighter and draw a grid on the inside of the windows. It will be virtually invisible to humans, but for birds it breaks up the reflection that otherwise induces them to fly into the windows at top speed.

Please try this solution and let me know if it works for you. (It is best to apply the highlighter when the window isn’t too dusty–otherwise the grid is more visible.) Please comment if you have had any luck with other methods of reducing bird strikes.