What is Earthaven?

“Ecovillages are human-scale, full-featured settlements in which human activities are harmlessly integrated into the natural world in a way that is supportive of healthy human development, and which can be successfully continued into the indefinite future.”

—Robert and Diane Gilman, Ecovillages and Sustainable Communities, 1991

Imagine it’s summer at Earthaven, an aspiring ecovillage settlement nestled in the forested slopes of the Southern Appalachians. Along with murmuring streams and birdsong, you hear the sounds of human activity, of people building their common future together, of children at play…

You hear the sound of power tools and home construction, often with lumber from trees felled on the land. This is the sound of liberation. Using our own lumber and hiring each other to build our homes frees us from banks and the timber industry while keeping materials and money within our village economy.

These are radical acts. We’re learning to practice ecologically responsible forestry and agriculture; to develop natural building systems that sustain forest health, create jobs, and generate renewable energy through good design. We intend to become empowered, responsible, ecologically literate citizens, modeling bioregionally appropriate culture for our time and place.

Founded in 1994, Earthaven is located on 329 acres in culturally rich, biologically diverse western North Carolina, about 40 minutes southeast of Asheville. We are dedicated to caring for people and the Earth by learning and demonstrating a holistic, sustainable culture.

Lying between 2000 and 2600 feet elevation, our forested mountain land consists of three converging valleys with abundant streams and springs, flood plains, bottom land, and steeper ridge slopes.

We intend to become a village of at least 150 people on 56 homesites. In recent year’s Earthaven’s membership has been around 60 members, with about 50 living on the land. Our permaculture site plan includes residential neighborhoods and compact business sites, as well as areas suitable for orchards, market gardens, and wetlands.

Much of Earthaven is still under construction. Physical infrastructure so far includes roads, footpaths, bridges, campgrounds, ponds, constructed wetlands, off-grid power systems, gardens, our Council Hall, a kitchen-dining room, many small dwellings, and several homes.

We govern ourselves with a consensus decision-making process and a Council and committee structure. We own title to our land, which we financed with private loans from members. Members pay their share of the cost of the land by leasing homesites from the community.

We value sustainable ecological systems, permaculture design, elegant simplicity, right livelihood, and healthy social relations. We are spiritually diverse. We have both vegetarians and omnivores; some members raise livestock.

Our small ecologically sound businesses include a permaculture plant nursery; carpentry and home construction; tool-rental; solar system installation; plumbing and electrical installation; candle-lanterns and other wooden craft items; and consultants and courses in permaculuture design, natural building, creating new ecovillages, herbal medicine, and women’s health. See Making a Living.

We teach workshops on starting an ecovillage, and designing an ecovillage. See our Calendar for details. For those seeking in-depth information about ecovillages and intentional communities, we offer additional information and for those seeking technical information we offer consultations.

Earthaven is a living seed in which we store the best of our cultural heritage, and an incubator in which we will embrace our responsibility as humans during the impending chaos.

We will pass our mythology, technology, and community skills on to our extraordinary descendants, who will plant a poly-culture of survival strategies and help cultivate a sustainable renaissance.

Through cultural exchange between tribes, they will create a world more abundant, beautiful, and peaceful than ours.

The success of our efforts today shall be measured in these terms.

—An inspirational statement written by a small group of members during our 2008 strategic planning process