Over the past 50 years, the average global temperature has increased at the fastest rate in recorded history. Experts see the trend is accelerating and have called for urgent actions to curb irreversible pending damage. One place to learn and acquire practical action skills to combat climate change and promote sustainable living is the New Community Project in Starksboro, Vermont, an experimental and public educational center for JUST and SUSTAINABLE living practices.
Just 33 minutes’ drive from Burlington, one is welcome to this amazing natural place with myriads of experiential sustainable living. I share with you my experience.
Upon arriving at the New Community Project site, cheerful warming smiles from the Coordinator greeted me, and I felt very welcome. The environment and surroundings were very serene and refreshing.
Introduction to Permaculture
I was introduced to Permaculture and gathered that it offers a radical approach to food production, urban renewal, rain water harvesting and conservation, energy and pollution. It integrates ecology, landscape, organic gardening, architecture and agro-forestry to create a rich and sustainable way of living. It uses appropriate technology, giving high yields for low energy inputs, achieving a resource of great diversity and stability. Some of the things I learned from the New Community Project were:
- Cultivated and Productive Ecologies
- Working with microclimate
- Forest and interconnected gardens
- Intensive gardening
- Woody agriculture
- Water harvesting
- Increase energy conservation and efficiency
- Use of biodegradable materials for farming/gardening
- Process of producing maple syrup
- Organic egg production
Touring the Sites, Questions & Answers
A planned visit expected to last for just forty-five minutes interestingly ended up one hour and thirty minutes. I was motivated to visit this educational site because of my eagerness to learn new trends in sustainable livelihood and how they help contribute to the fight against climate change using indigenous methods. Back home in Ghana (Africa), where I come from, most families will love such a simple life and I believe this was an opportunity for me to learn so I can impart this to my community when I come home.
The experience shared by the project coordinator and his level of knowledge in this field was thrilling and astounding. The project coordinator shared knowledge from his many years of practice in sustainable landscapes and that was inspiring. He answered all my questions fully and interestingly, and I learned a lot from him. I was surprised to see my first green egg shell, laid by an araucana chicken.
All the components at this learning center–from the gardens to the solar panel, the woodlot to the compost, from the yurt to the maple sap boiler and then to the chicken pen where organic eggs are produced–connect in a quiet, serene atmosphere, where one could smell the pure scent of different leaves. The place is worth revisiting over and over again.
Future Efforts in the New Community Project, Vermont
The New Community Project’s future efforts will include creating garden space for children, building housing for residential stewards, increasing energy conservation, installing solar hot water panels and solar food dryers, building a biomass-heated greenhouse, constructing a cob oven, installing a pond, and planting nut and fruit trees.
For me there was so much to learn in such a short time and I will surely return, not only to learn but to volunteer on a work day where community members work together on projects like stacking firewood, building structures or harvesting food. I believe this will soon become a global model for sustainable livelihood. My visit to the New Community Project site was very inspiring and refreshing, and students could take the opportunity to visit and learn more about climate change and sustainable living.
I encourage you to take advantage of this experience and visit the New Community Project. Details below.
New Community Project Vermont
Peace Justice Ecology
575 Ruby Brace Rd., Starksboro, VT 05487
About the Author:
Abraham Godbless Ashie is an IREX fellow with 350 Vermont. He is passionate about issues of environment and climate change and works with women farmers and young people on climate change issues in Ghana, West Africa. He undertakes activities that ensure that women farmers and young people in rural communities are aware of climate change and learn adoptable skills in improving their lives.