Wednesday, July 30, 2008
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!!!!
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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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!