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Friday, November 28, 2008

Friends of Ahimsa Village Annual Fund Drive

We want to thank all the Friends of AV for their support over the past year.  Our major 2008 project was the Permaculture Orchard.  The orchard is in and is doing well despite the 17 year locusts, japanese beatles, and gyspy moths this past year.  Read more about the orchard.  As we did last year, in lieu of holiday gifts we are asking our friends to make a donation to AV.  This money goes to supporting the mission of AV.  We certainly do understand if things are tight this year and a donation is not possible.  Our standard request is for a $50 donation to continue as a Friend however any amount is appreciated.  Friends can make checks out to "Ahimsa Village."  If you would like to make a tax deductible donation, please make check out to "School of Living" and indicate "Ahimsa Village" in the memo line.  Alternately you can donate online via JustGive - it is linked to our website in the upper left corner - in the box that says "designate my donation" please enter "Ahimsa village."  Friends are kept informed of seminars, lectures, demonstrations, and meeting updates through the Ahimsa email list. Friends can hike in the woods, participate in Ahimsa programs, and contribute to Ahimsa projects. Friends will receive our monthly e-newsletter and be the first to know about Ahimsa events and workshops.  Friends receive a 10% discount on all Ahimsa workshops and programs.  Thanks and have a great holiday season.  We look forward to seeing many of you in 2009!  

Upcoming program: Sustainable Landscaping, Friday, December 12, 2008 at 6:30PM

Learn about the philosophy and practice of sustainable landscaping.  Topics will include promoting the landscape as a system to be used in conjunction with the home, rainwater collection, xeriscaping, greywater recycling, composting, and vegetative roofs as part of the garden.  Bring your ideas and questions to discuss.  Program by Jason R. Grottini, environmental scientist at Matson & Associates and founder of EarthW.O.R.M. International, a small sustainable development/ engineering consulting firm in State College.  Jason has research experience in environmental pollution control and green engineering practices.  He has performed research on vegetative roof systems, stream bank restoration, and has designed several models for alternative waste water treatment systems for educational purposes.   Visit our web site for complete details.

Cider Press Co-op

Ahimsa is looking into purchasing a good quality cider press and sharing it with our neighbors i.e. establishing a cider press co-op.  We are seeking a number of people to invest in the cost and thus have shared ownership/use of the press.  The idea is to keep it local - preferably close to the Bald Eagle Valley so that it will be easily accessible to all owners.  If you are interested please contact Bob Flatley at

Vegetarian Homesteading

Came across this great web site. The couple who host it are vegan homesteaders in Minnesota and they make a great case for the benefits of vegetarian homesteading over traditional homesteading:

Introducing our newest resident, Olivia!!!

Olivia arrived at Ahimsa Village on the afternoon of November 4th from the Centre Hall SPCA.  She quickly made herself at home and stole our hearts.  She is very playful, friendly, and talkative.  She caught a cold at the shelter and we had to take her to the vet the weekend after she arrived.  Now she is doing much better.  View more pictures.

Friday Night Light: Bill Toretti

We had a wonderful Friday Night Light Program with Bill Toretti of Spring Mills.  Bill is a local homeopath.  The evening featured an introduction to homeopathy followed by an opportunity for people to ask questions.  We had 15 people attend the lecture and judging by the many questions and comments raised people were obviously interested in the presentation.  A big thanks to Bill for presenting! Those interested in Bill's services can contact him at

The Bees and the Bear

The Half Acre Farm - Ahimsa Apiary is no more thanks to a regular visitor, a large black bear.  All eight hives were methodically destroyed over a period of a month.  Despite efforts to strap down the hives and secure the bee benches, our visitor was persistent.  Liam is committed to re-establishing the apiary in the spring.  We are currently researching solutions to this problem.  One piece of advice from a local farmer was to put up electrified barbed wire fencing and scent it with food smells to attract the bear so that he gets a good shock.  Research on the Internet suggested putting up a regular electric fence at least 6' high.  We continue doing research and will keep people posted on our progress.  We want to thank those who invested in this experimental program and hope to have better news in 2009.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Halloween Harvest Hoopla - November 1, 2008

Announcing: Ahimsa Village 2nd Anniversary Celebration
Saturday, November 1, 4-8pm
Ahimsa Friends, please join us celebrating the fall transition and a second year of activity at our community.  
Schedule of Events: 4pm property tour, 5-6pm lite meal and year in review presentation, 6pm bonfire & music.  Bring your favorite instrument!!!!!
Location: Ahimsa Village, 4022 S. Eagle Valley Rd, Julian, PA 16844 
PLEASE RSVP so we have an idea of how much food to get:

Boyle-Martin Engagement

A year ago in November, Tammie Lyn and Greg had their third date at Ahimsa Village just in time for  AV's one year anniversary party. Last month Bob and Kelle joined Tammie Lyn, Greg, and others in York for some Bridal and Bachelor party fun. As they both have various degrees of interest and involvement with AV, we thought their introduction as a couple would be fun to include in this months newsletter.

Tammie Lyn and Greg both grew up around South Eastern Pennsylvania and currently live in Santa Cruz County. Tammie Lyn has a masters degree in occupational therapy and is currently Director of Rehabilitation at a long term care facility. Greg is a web editor with a BA in international and East Asian studies. Both try their best to make sustainability and nourishment of body, heart, and spirit a guiding force in their lives.  While in Pennsylvania, Tammie Lyn volunteered for three years on an organic farm helping to establish a CSA program, selling at farmer's markets, and participating in PASA conventions. She also holds a certificate in herbology, enjoys expressing herself artistically, has a background in martial arts, and is involved with the Dance of the Deer

Greg met Bob in college and kept in touch waxing poetic over the years, and then joined Bob and Kelle helping to make Ahimsa Village a reality. Greg participates in a book discussion group, a neighborhood road association, and other support groups. He also dabbles with painting, 
writing, and gardening. Greg has worked as a painter/carpenter, ESL teacher, cross-cultural trainer, web editor, and technical writer. Both Greg and Tammie Lyn look forward to supporting the growth of Ahimsa Village as they themselves begin a rich loving life together with a 
ceremony planned for December.

2008 Garden Season Wrapping Up

The 2008 garden season is wrapping up at Ahimsa Village.  Despite all the deer, woodchucks, crows, mice, rabbits, and bugs we still had a fairly successful gardening year at AV.  Its a constant battle living next to the mountains!

Summer Camp a Big Success

The 2nd annual Ahimsa Summer Camp was a big success.  Attendance was much larger and more consistent.  We had anywhere from 7 to 14 children each week.  The camp ran from June 19 thru August 28. Activities this year included bread baking, bird watching, hissing cockroaches, boat building, honey bee class, dances of universal peace, yoga bowling, cooking, swimming, cooperative games, drawing, hiking, making flower pots, gardening and more. Check out our web site for details for the 2009 camp.  A special thanks to all those who helped make the camp a success: Kelle Kersten, Tammy Badger, Frank Hidgon, John Cierpy, Ann Wilken, Deb Fisher, Chuck Cave, Kanji Ruhl, Jean and Robert Forsberg, Lamizsah Brown, Half Acre Farm, Huston Township Park and Rec, Julian Woods Community.  (view pictures).

PA Renewable Energy Festival

Ahimsa Village played a role in the fourth annual Pennsylvania Renewable Energy & Sustainable Living Festival held on Fri., Sat., & Sun., September 19, 20 & 21, 2008 on 66 acres in Berks County, PA.  The event attracts thousands of visitors.  The purpose of the festival is to empower regular people and demonstrate practical solutions to America's energy crisis.
         The festival featured over 60 lectures, workshops and hands-on demonstrations promoting solar, wind, hydrogen power, biofuels, green building, organic farming and sustainable living. Examples included an introduction to wind power, vegetable oil for fuel, alternative farming techniques, solar site selection and solar panel installation, biofuel auto conversions, and alternative heat sources.
         AV member Kelle Kersten taught 4 workshops on becoming a localvore and eating less meat.  Bob helped with AV support for all the speakers and keynotes.  Frank volunteered at the School of Living table (SoL sponsored a table at the event).  The SoL table generated a lot of interest - book sales were brisk!

Honey Harvest Postponed

The bees have been busy but they haven’t been making honey—at least not fast enough or in large enough quantities for us to harvest honey as planned for late September. Our beekeeper, Liam Goble, explained that dry weather makes it difficult for bees to make honey and we’ve been very dry in Centre County this past summer. The weather pattern has changed in the past few weeks. Rain, rain and more rain. Liam believes that we could try to harvest honey later in October once the colonies have taken full advantage of the moisture and the prolific golden rod crop that is bursting out all around us. The main concern is that the bees have enough honey to get themselves through the winter months. The farmer’s almanac is predicting a colder winter so we have to be cautious. It is possible to supplement the bees with a sugar solution, but they do best with their own honey which contains an untold host of nutrients vital to their survival. So, honey lovers and hive owners will need to be patient with our experimental apiary and we’ll keep our eyes on the prize: seeing most if not all of our resident bee colonies make it through the winter. Next year our patience could pay off with stronger colonies and a bumper crop of honey. Thanks for your involvement in the apiary. If you have any questions about the hives, please contact Liam at 814-574-2273 or

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

AV adds Straw Lease and New Members!!!!

On July 27, 2008 AV entered into an agreement with the School of Living to lease the Straw property. This 3 acre parcel adjoins the current AV lease (of 65 acres). The property includes a small house, 3 wells, and a spring. The property has a rich history including being the site one of the first white settlements in the Bald Eagle Valley. A pioneer cabin originally stood on the footprint of the current house. More recently the lot was occupied by Mary and Chester Straw from 1961 - 2008. The current plan is for the lot to be used as space for our newest partner, Frank Higdon, and his family to build an eco-house. Frank serves on the Board of the School of Living. He is committed to the visions of AV and SoL. His vision is to create a place where communitarians can engage in homesteading using organic agriculture, forest farming, and permaculture to create an ecologically sound, human-scale culture. AV is delighted to have Frank as the newest AV partner!!!!

Garden Update

The Ahimsa gardens are in full swing. Its been a great growing year as we have had fairly regular rainfall plus the use of the Straw well (a neighboring well that is MUCH stronger than the Ahimsa well) so we have been able to irrigate the crops as needed. The tomatoes are beginning to ripen up; the cherry tomatoes are ready. The green beans have been producing in abundance for the last week. We plan to do some canning soon. In addition, green peppers, beets, fennel, carrots, and peas are all still producing. We have harvested and hung up all the garlic for drying and have been sparingly harvesting the potatoes. Lastly, lettuce has been planted for the fall garden. We have been very grateful for the assistance of John Cierpolowski and Jean Giddings in the garden this year. Both have contributed many hours of weeding, planting, harvesting. Thank you!
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Buzzing Around the Village

Ahimsa Village has recently been colonized by hundreds of thousands of crawling, buzzing insects. They feed voraciously on flowers of all types and there are large clusters of them in the Butterfly Meadow and the Permaculture Orchard—if you’re brave enough to seek them out. Unlike the Gypsy Moths and Japanese Beetles of recent weeks, we imported these little winged “friends of Ahimsa”—they’re honey bees.

Liam Goble, a local beekeeper and proprietor of Half Acre Farm in State College, offered a “home hive program” this year for those interested in hosting his ever expanding apiary. The deal was much like a community supported agriculture system in that we provided an initial investment of $150 per hive, and Liam established the hives on our land. He maintains the hives and at the end of the season, we hope to get a portion of the honey produced by each hive. Ahimsa members and friends have invested in more than a half dozen hives. The land can accommodate up to 20 comfortably—so there’s room for more if anyone is interested in joining the program.

The program got off to a rocky start in April after we established a number of hives with an experimental design that didn’t appeal to our visiting queens. The first three colonies swarmed off, leaving their hives empty, and us scratching our heads. We went back to the tried and true “Langstroth” hive design, and so far we have 8 healthy and productive hives. Liam has been conducting open inspections for home hive members. It is thrilling to stand so close to a hive full of bees and realize that they are really gentle creatures who would rather not sting you if given the choice. The inspections happen on a monthly basis throughout the season.

If you are interested in getting involved in the Ahimsa Apiary, you can contact Kelle to find out if there is currently space for additional hives in 2009. Liam can be reached at (814) 574-2273 or if you are interested in having a hive placed at your home. At this time, he is only servicing hives located in the State College and Bald Eagle School Districts. Liam also provides training and “hive kits” to those interested in beekeeping. We’ll be hosting our first beekeeping workshop in August 9, and our Fall Honey Harvest Festival is slated for late September. Hope you can join us!