A Sustainable Emerging EcoVillage
Avalon Organic Gardens & EcoVillage is located on 220 acres of rich farmland in the sacred Santa Cruz Valley of Southern Arizona. We are a collective of kindred spirits united by a common vision. Being a spiritual intentional community as well as an ecovillage, our efforts to live in harmony with nature are rooted in our spiritual walk and recognition of the interconnectedness of all life.
Our sustainable practices include organic farming, permaculture principles, green building, water harvesting, carpooling, composting, and more. Equally important to us are our social and ethical practices which encourage honest, loving, and respectful communication in order to create an emotionally and spiritually sustainable environment.
As an ecovillage, we are ever striving to become increasingly self-sustaining. We incorporate modern, cutting-edge technologies with sustainable practices that have been in use for thousands of years around the world, many of which have been abandoned by the unrealistic consumer society we live in today in America. We are dedicated to educating ourselves and others about the state of our fragile Mother Earth, and the ever-growing need for each one of us to assume responsibility for her care.
Some of the things we do:
- All dairy needs are met by our own dairy goat and cow herd
- Free range chickens providing our eggs
- Grass fed beef from our own cattle
- Development of a 3+ acre food forest with several hundred fruit trees of all varieties
- Rain & grey water harvesting
- Solar & wind power
- Papercrete as a building material
- Use of eco and "green" building practices in our construction
With 25 years of experience we have developed new and proven methods for growing nutrient rich foods free of chemicals, pesticides, and any harmful toxins. Our CSA program was the first established in Arizona, feeding more than 100 people since 1995.
We of course recycle all materials such as plastic, glass, and cardboard. We like to extend our thinking about recycling well beyond these common elements. We reuse many things in our daily life. We believe that there should be no waste. Anything and everything can be used more than once, and often in unique and creative ways you wouldn’t expect. A perfect system has little or no byproducts. With a little inspiration, hard work, and common sense many things can be put back to use in some way or another. You will see building well pipe that was pulled up from old wells used in many of our dwellings. You will also see a product that we use called Oro – a rubber-based spray-on application made from recycled tires – with an end product similar to stucco.
We have staff dedicated to coordinating carpooling, group transit, biking, and other alternative means of transport. Cycling and walking are encouraged whenever possible to reduce noise and air pollution, as well as to enhance health. Our community is structured within close proximity of all work, home, and recreation locations. We also minimize the number of vehicle trips by utilizing assigned shoppers (2-4 people shop for 115+) to buy food and supplies in bulk. We also have designated shuttles and drivers to make daily pickups and deliveries for over 115 people that greatly reduces our environmental footprint.
America throws away nearly half of its food left to rot and go to waste. Our EcoVillage is blessed with an abundance of food and none of it goes to waste. Every kitchen is set up with composting bins and all of our leftover and extra food goes to feed our chicken and goats or is “composted” or decomposed and recycled as a fertilizer and soil amendment.
We collect rainwater in two ways - off of our rooftops and by grading the land to direct and channel thousands of gallons of runoff rain water into contained areas. From our roofs we are able to capture thousands of gallons of rainwater and store it into aboveground tanks. We then use it for watering plants around the home. In some cases around the homes we grade the land to direct spill-off from roofs into swells planted with high-water-use trees such as willows.
By observing the natural flow of runoff rainwater we were able to grade a portion of our land to direct this water that runs off the nearby hills into our Food Forest. We literally capture several million gallons of water that flow through a winding swell system to absorb into our Food Forest, watering hundreds of fruit trees. In the desert rainwater harvesting is a must!
All homes are equipped with laundry rooms where the water is piped out into nearby orchards, flower, or ornamental beds – creating an oasis right outside the home of lush, green beauty! We use only bio-compatible soaps in our laundry to assure no damage is done to our precious plants and soil. Because we live in the desert it is of vital importance to conserve and reuse water.
The average top loading washing machine uses up to 40 gallons of water per load! Front loaders use 15 -24 gallons. By harvesting and using the grey water from our washing machines to water our gardens we are saving up to 8,000 gallons of water per week. We also have many outdoor showers with greywater harvesting systems for grapes, fruit trees, and wetlands with subtropical plants.
Our solar array consists of 84 Schott Poly 235 watt panels; each individual panel having the capacity to generate 235 watts. This overall system capacity is 19.74 kilowatts, which means this is the average current being generated at any given moment by the whole array. The current that is produced is DC (Direct Current), and has to be converted (by 3 installed inverters) into AC (Alternating Current), before we can use it.
This is a grid-tied system, which means any excess electricity we produce is sent back to the grid and we in turn receive a credit against the electricity we use from the local power company. The array generates, on average, 2,800 kilowatt hours of electricity monthly; roughly enough to power about 15 large household refrigerators for a month. Since you would have to burn 1 ton of coal to produce 2,460 kilowatt hours of electricity, our array produces enough electricity to avoid burning about 1.13 tons of coal (and all the CO2 that would produce!) each month. You can view data produced by the array here.
We save all of our paper waste (minus bathroom!). All paper and cardboard products are blended into a fiber pulp, which is mixed with varying levels of cement. We then pour the fiber pulp into block molds and dry them out. These blocks can be used for building various types of structures such as walls, benches, flower beds, etc.
At Avalon Organic Gardens and EcoVillage you might see various papercrete projects and experiments without even realizing they're made from papercrete. We also have a sculpture yard and designated area for the purpose of mixing more. We have an ongoing process for recycling our many paper products to be used again in building!
We focus on eco-conscious and energy-efficient building - using sustainable, renewable, and recycled building materials whenever possible. We constantly research and educate ourselves in the latest cutting-edge technologies in various construction products. Come see our earth domes, monolithic domes, and other sustainable dwellings.