Many of SOIL’s programs take place among the homes, kitchens, cottage industries, cozy neighborhood homesteads, sustainable homesites, small farms, forests, and daily lives of our residents and neighbors at Earthaven Ecovillage and the Taylor Creek Watershed. This permaculture-based community offers a unique living classroom where students directly engage with regenerative food systems, eco-infrastructure, and the intimate experience of community living.
What to Expect at SOIL
Staying and learning at Earthaven is an adventure! Earthaven is off-the-grid, which means it is not tied into public electricity or water systems — we create them ourselves. We derive our electricity from hydro (water) power, solar (sun) power, or a gasoline-powered generator, and our water from on-land springs and wells.
Please be prepared to conserve energy and resources while you are staying with us. Some noticeable differences to prepare for include:
- Limited and responsible electricity use
- Consistent monitoring of resources
- More sharing
- No air conditioning or central heating
- Fans and wood heat do keep our spaces cool/warm
- No outdoor lighting at night
Most SOIL programs take place in the community’s beautiful, hand-built Council Hall, as well as under outdoor canopies and in the woods or on farms. In the spring, summer, and fall, meals are served in our outdoor covered dining area.
Phone and Internet
It’s very easy to unplug once you arrive, because most cell phones don’t get reception in the forest. Participants can drive or walk 1 mile up the road if they wish to use their cell phones. Landline phones are available for short phone calls or emergencies.
Internet is available to participants in the Council Hall via ethernet connection (no wifi). The connection is slower that you might be used to and can be unreliable. We encourage minimal internet usage. There is no community computer provided so you would need to bring your own.
Terrain and Wildlife
Earthaven is a rural environment with gravel roads and sloping forest hiking trails. This juvenile eastern hardwood forest is home to a diverse mix of flora and fauna. Among the rhododendron thickets and salamander habitats there are also some ‘guardian species’ such as poison ivy, brambles, and some poisonous snakes to keep us alert and engaged.
Our recovering forest ecosystem is fragile, and our impact can make a difference in its health. We ask that you respect our biodiversity by not harvesting plants, or killing wildlife. If you are allergic to poison ivy and bee stings, please come prepared.
“Coming from downtown Raleigh, the journey to Earthaven was a much needed escape – escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, but also an escape back to nature, back to self.”
The summers are warm and humid, the winters are cold, and it is wet and partly cloudy year round. Over the course of the year, the temperature typically varies from 26°F to 81°F and is rarely below 13°F or above 87°F. Although it doesn’t get very hot in the summer, it can feel very hot since the humidity is high.
It rains pretty consistently year round with afternoon thunderstorms in the summer and occasional snow in the winter.
SOIL is the place for planting the seeds of change.
Founded in 1994, Earthaven Ecovillage is located on 329 acres in culturally rich, biologically diverse western North Carolina, about 50 minutes southeast of Asheville and 30 minutes southeast of Black Mountain. Home to 80+ residents, the community is dedicated to caring for people and the Earth by learning and demonstrating a holistic, sustainable culture. The springs and creeks that traverse the land help welcome and invite you into the flow of what is happening in this serene forested setting.
Earthaven’s mission is to create “a living laboratory and educational seed bank for a sustainable human future.” Earthaven members seek to become empowered, responsible, ecologically literate citizens, modeling a bioregionally appropriate culture and valuing sustainable ecological systems, permaculture design, elegant simplicity, right livelihood, and healthy social relations.
I think that it was a wonderful soul level experience. It has made me develop an even deeper appreciation for the Earth and our patterns of consumption and our relationship to the earth and to each other.
What is an Ecovillage?
A widely used definition is a “human-scale, full-featured settlement in which human activities are harmlessly integrated into the natural world in a way that is supportive of healthy human development, with multiple centers of initiative, and which can be successfully continued into the indefinite future.” — Robert and Diane Gilman
Western North Carolina’s Appalachian Culture
The Western North Carolina mountains are home to the city of Asheville, known for its culinary, dance, and music scene and its thriving artistic community. The North Carolina mountains offer breathtaking beauty—the nearby section of the Appalachian Trail is among the most scenic of the whole hike—and hold unique ecological diversity in their subtropical, temperate, and boreal habitats. The area around Asheville also offers outdoor activities such as whitewater rafting and rock climbing.