A living laboratory for a sustainable human future.

The Tree Climber

by Mana Vermeulen-Mcleod


Johnny McLeod is our resident tree climber. He loves hanging out high in the canopies, often overlooking some amazing vistas here in our Blue Ridge Mountains.

He started his climbing career in Arkansas some ten years ago and brought his skills to our ecovillage. These skills are much needed around here where trees and houses sprout out of the ground side by side.

We need trees cut for so many reasons. The biggest reason is solar access. Most of our buildings have a passive solar design as well as a large photovoltaic system to support  electricity needs. Another reason to cut trees for sunlight is ever growing gardens. South facing slopes have been chosen for houses, photovoltaic systems and gardens. Of course we use wood to build structures; we aim to use as much of it from our land as we can.

Johnny also loves to cut firewood. It’s his obsession really. After a long day cutting trees he comes home in the evening to work at his hobby of cutting firewood! Luckily he got himself a hydraulic splitter some years ago and that makes it all go much faster.

The community has already been hard at work through this spring and summer to get enough firewood split and put up for our long and recently snowy winters.

So the next time you come to visit us, keep your eye out for a tree-climber. He has our one-year-old with him on some of these woodsy adventures. If only they made baby ear protection and little chainsaws!


Mana Vermeulen-Mcleod and her husband, Johnny, the Tree Climber, are raising a family at Earthaven. Mana says “Right now I’m a stay-in-the-woods mom and I’m so glad to raise my boy surrounded by all this natural beauty. When my kid(s) are a little older I’ll get back to what I love doing—creative carpentry.”

firewood, Johnny Mcleod, solar, tree climber

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Upcoming Events

Virtual Earthaven Tour

June 27, 2-4 pm, Recording available now

There’s nothing like experiencing ecovillage life first hand, but taking a virtual tour of Earthaven is a close second! 

The tour highlights ways in which Earthaven is striving to be a holistic, sustainable culture. The introductory overview tour examines the concept of sustainability at Earthaven through social, ecological, and economic lenses. Not only will you get a glimpse of what has worked through time, but also hear about what has been challenging. And you will have a chance to ask questions!

Compassion Camp

July 13-16

Our annual event focused on Nonviolent Communication, featuring classes and experiential learning. An experience designed to foster compassion and connection in our hearts, communities and world, and to spread the seeds of justice and love.

Earthaven Ecovillage Experience Week

July 30 – August 5, 2023

Join the homesteads, farms, and businesses of Earthaven Ecovillage for a hands-on, skill-building immersion in sustainable and climate-resilient community life. A residential service learning immersion in our unique community laboratory.

Boys with chickens

Eco-Explorers Adventure Camp

July 31 - August 4, 2023

This day camp is designed to develop ecological literacy, gain practical life skills, and build meaningful friendships, and is also open to commuters.

Commute or bring your 6-12 year-old kids to Eco-Explorers Adventure Camp for an age-appropriate ecovillage experience while you participate in Earthaven Ecovillage Experience Week.