Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Hickory Nut Forest Eco-Village
Today, after a brief visit to downtown Asheville for a delicious vegetarian Reuben and pumpkin spice decaf lattes (we eat out at restaurants or cafes only about once a week on average), we drove up winding mountain roads to the town of Gerton, North Carolina in order to visit the Hickory Nut Forest Eco-Village. We even crossed the Continental Divide on the way up the mountain!
From it's website, Hickory Nut Forest is a project described as "a unique eco-friendly community close to Asheville with plans to combine land conservation, green-built homes, organic gardening and renewable energy from wind, water, sun, and geothermal sources. Here, you can be part of designing a 'net zero energy homes community' that creates more renewable energy than it uses."
Another exciting aspect of Hickory Nut is the creation of a retreat/conference center which sits along a rushing mountain stream on the site of an old grist mill, with a basement yoga room located just alongside the stream. While we were visiting, we were also able to witness how the team is beginning the process of reconstructing several centuries-old log cabins on the site. It is obviously a labor of love, and the timber recovered from the ancient cabins is beautiful and enormous.
As far as the sites for the homes is concerned, they are magnificent sites along a ridge overlooking the valley below, and the homes themselves will be certified green, using the best low-impact and healthy materials which will be conscientiously sourced. Water conservation, super-insulation, passive and active solar, geothermal and other technologies will also be employed in the building process, and waste water will be recycled using various cutting edge permaculture methods.
The land surrounding the conference center is lush with tall trees, rhododendron and mountain laurel---a varied forested landscape. Adjacent to the conference center site is an organic orchard and garden which uses permaculture principles and may evolve into a form of community supported agriculture or similar project.
The Hickory Nut model is very captivating because part of our life's vision is to live close to the land in community, and potentially being part of a retreat center is very attractive to us based on a life-long dream of working and living in a retreat atmosphere.
While we are not currently in a position to buy a plot of land and begin the process of building a home in an emerging eco-village, we can see that the community that will emerge at Hickory Nut is one we will be sure to watch as it finds its feet and comes to certain fruition. We wish everyone at Hickory Nut the very best, and we hope to visit again to witness what will certainly be a transformative ripening of the vision behind this community.