I grew up in Berea. From the beginnings of preschool until the start of second grade – Berea, Ky was proudly my home. I have fond memories of living there. The culture was simply wonderful – from the vibrant arts and crafts scene to the fact that my next door neighbors were a refugee family, The Namagabis, from South Sudan or Uganda(?). It made it a great place to discover the world as a little human. My dad’s job made us a slightly nomadic family; meaning I lived in five different counties in Kentucky by the time I graduated high school. Berea, Ky was our second move and I cherish our time spent there. The town is well known for the arts and crafts scene, the spoon bread festival, and Berea College. Not only is Berea College a top college in America that is known for its “no-tuition promise” to all students enrolled, but it is home to the Ecovillage!
The Ecovillage has long since been an inspiration to me. Check out the website!
“Key features of the Ecovillage apartments include solar tubes and compact fluorescent lighting, low-flow toilets and showerheads, low-VOC carpets and paints, ceiling fans, and outdoor clotheslines for drying clothes. In additional to individual garden plots for each apartment, the Ecovillage also includes several raised garden beds and a permaculture “food forest” for all residents’ use.”
Permaculture food forest!! I will share about this in another post coming soon, but it’s basically a forest with fruits, berries, herbs, vegetables, nuts, etc. And several people have created one (conveniently) in their backyard! What a dream! The Ecovillage also includes an aquaponics facility, which is basically the production of vegetables without soil; therefore, they use aquatic animals such as fish to provide the nutrients that the plants need.
Inside the Ecovillage is the Sustainability and Environmental Studies House (SENS), which is operated and maintained by the students in the Sustainability and Environmental Studies program. This building, an academic/research facility, is used to help students create the practical skills needed to thrive in a sustainable living environment.
“The SENS House includes additional features such as a timber frame from College-harvested wood, natural building techniques, a composting toilet, and a net-metering solar electric system. The community’s sewage is converted to swimmable quality water by an “ecological machine,” which is composed of a series of tanks filled with plants, fish, and other aquaculture. Much of this water is recycled to flush toilets in the Ecovillage. The sustainability goals of the Ecovillage include reducing energy use by 75%, reducing per capita water use by 75%, and reusing or composting at least 50% of waste.”
Living sustainably is definitely a lifestyle that requires dedication and commitment. However, I share this with you all today to show you that living sustainably is possible AND it is much easier with a community around you. That is why the Ecovillage at Berea is an ideal example because no one is in it alone! It is a team effort.
The Ecovillage and SENS complex are all designed to be energy efficient. This means toilets, lights, washer, dryer, thermostats – are all programmed to use LESS while still maintaining quality of life. Therefore, many of you reading this probably can’t change all of your at-home appliances without a great expense. But, you can start somewhere.
A garden is a great place to start. Although, I resonate with this being quite the undertaking. However, a garden leads to composting! And composting means that organic materials are recycled, while landfill space is conserved.
For much of my life we have had a garden and a composting area. We never dropped the $100 or so to get a fancy compost tumbler. Instead, we mainly just created a wooden box in the backyard to fill up and then occasionally (via shovel) we would turn the compost to keep it fresh. This does require more labor, so if you want to make composting easier, I would suggest investing in an official Compost Tumbler.
Alongside a compost tumbler, it would also be beneficial to invest in a rain water barrel. The barrel holds water from recent rainfall in order to be used for irrigation purposes, which has been known to improve plant growth since the water is absent of common chemicals used to treat our water. The rainwater can also be used to give your car a wash! Therefore, the barrel will hopefully be reason for a lower water bill in the summer as well.
I know I added several links throughout the post, but I just wanted to provide resources and references to make it easy for you to explore!
Enjoy! & Thanks for reading!