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Friday, April 10, 2009

Ahimsa Village Summer Camp

This year the summer camp will be a cooperative venture with Zen Peacemakers.  It will be a significant component of a newly forming Appalachian Zen House program run by Zen Peacemaker minister Kangi (See  for more information about the Appalachian Zen House and the Zen Peacemakers).  Kangi and especially his assistant, intern Rosalind McIntosh, will be helping with grant writing, staff and camper recruitment, exploring collaboration with the local school district and program development.   The purpose of the camp is to reconnect youth with the earth, plants, animals, and each other and to teach ways of maintaining these connections in our materialistic and individualistic culture.  We are focusing on providing experiential and fun sustainability education for 12-18 year olds. 

Maple Project

We collected sap and boiled seven times during three weeks in March, yielding 7 gallons of syrup.  It was great working with Scott and Kate on this project and we plan to do it again next year.  Now we are enjoying the fruit of our labor-Delicious!!!  View more pictures of this year's mapling at

Shared Self Community

Samatman moved into the farmhouse at the end of February to begin what was supposed to be a three month trial period to determine whether or not we (Samatman, Kelle, and Bob) would go forward together in creating a shared self community.  Such a community is based on four global truths:  1) we are experiencing multi-level unhappiness and disconnection; 2) our unhappiness is caused by our illusion that we are separate from each other and the other beings of this planet, 3) we really are one shared-self that is unlimited in love and happiness, 4) shared-self community is the path to remembering and manifesting our shared-self.  We began the long process of redefining and transforming our activities and thinking within a shared-self framework.  While many valuable insights were gained, we mutually decided that Samatman wanted the transformation to go faster than we (Bob and Kelle) were willing to go, and Samatman moved back to VA at the end of March.  We plan to continue working on establishing a shared self community at Ahimsa (at a much gentler pace) and in the months ahead will share our progress.  

Pennsylvania Association of Environmental Educators Presentation

On March 21, 2009, Bob, Kelle, and Samatman presented our approach to environmental education at the 2009 Pennsylvania Association of Environmental Educators Conference held at Lake Raystown Resort and Conference Center.  We discussed our various types of educational opportunities, including Non-Violent Communication workshops, Summer Camp, Friday Night Sustainability series, and other workshops.  We also shared our educational philosophy.  The power point presentation can be accessed from the Ahimsa Village website.  

One of the people in the audience, George Vahoviak from Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center near State College, was inspired to bring his graduate class on sustainability and education to Ahimsa Village on April 6, 2009, for a tour and discussion of our educational philosophy.  George seemed very interested in what we are doing here and this may be the beginning of a connection with Penn State students. 

Ahimsa Garden

Mary Lou Manhart (and her baby Lucy Mae) will be gardening with Kelle this year.  So far we have planted peas outside and cabbage, lettuce, broccoli, collards, onions, leeks, celery, parsley, and other greens inside under lights.  Carrots, beets, Swiss chard, and arugula will be direct-seeded soon.

This year we will not be selling any CSA shares, focusing instead on building the soil in new garden areas and growing as much food as possible for us.  Zen Peacemaker Sangha members and ministry students plan to come throughout the summer to help with preparing the CSA garden, “deer-proofing” the orchard, netting the blueberries, and setting up irrigation system as well as other projects at Ahimsa.  

Ahimsa applies for grant to put up a wind turbine

Bob recently submitted a grant application thru the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development to install a mini-wind turbine at Ahimsa Village.  The turbine would be located on the hill between the house and the Straw cottage.  We would install a Mariah vertical access wind turbine -  These are sold and installed locally by Envinity of State College.  These turbines are inexpensive to purchase and install compared to traditional horizontal access turbines.  They are also much quieter and will operate at low wind speeds.  Updates on the grant will be posted here.

Ahimsa mentioned in Tricycle magazine

The current issue of Tricycle, the nation's leading Buddhist magazine, features a story on Bernie Glassman and the Zen Peacemaker order.  Specifically the article is about Bernie's vision for Zen Houses.  One of the Zen Houses will be ZPO's first venture into a rural setting - the Appalachian Zen House.  This house will be coordinated by Kanji Ruhl, a Buddhist Minister ordained by ZPO.  Part of his vision is to work with Ahimsa Village in the establishment of a small CSA farm run by local people and the expansion of Ahimsa's summer camp.  Read the complete article (pdf).

Benefit concert a huge success

On Saturday, March 28, 2009 Cole Hons and Band rocked the O-An Zendo in a concert to benefit Ahimsa's educational programs.  Over 30 people attended the event.  Cole is a local singer song writer whose music features a spiritual and environmental theme.  Judging by the smiling faces, feet tapping, and dancing every one had a blast!  Cole originally played at one of Ahimsa's Friday Night Meetings.  He is very involved with promoting the work of the 13 Grandmothers - - and other efforts to heal the earth.  We were delighted to have Cole play and plan to do a concert next year!  You can check out pictures of the event at (click on Benefit Concert with Cole Hons).  Go to Cole's web site at to listen to music clips.  A BIG THANKS to Barbara and Chuck for hosting the event at O-An Zendo.

Whatever happened to Walnut Acres?

Does anyone on our e-list remember Walnut Acres Farm?  I am not referring to the mass produced organic processed food that can be bought in many stores with the name Walnut Acres but the farm in Penns Creek, PA.  When I was a kid my mother used to go to their bulk food store.  It was the first organic bulk food store in the USA.  In addition, they grew a lot of what they sold.  Walnut Acres farm was started by Paul and Betty Keene in 1940s.  They actually got their inspiration to farm organically from Ralph Borsodi at the School of Living (the same organization that holds the land in trust at Ahimsa).  In 1946 the Keene's bought a run-down farm (with no electricity or running water) and started farming and selling their produce locally.  Word got out and the business grew into one of the most successful mail-order food companies in the country.   Things changed after Betty died in 1987 and Paul turned the business over to his daughter and her husband.  They felt pushed to get big or get out and cut a deal with AOL founder David Cole who invested $4 million in the business.  This was the end of an era, the new corporate owners decided that they needed to go big and go online and that the original farm was actually a burden.  They sold off the farm, muzzled the original owners, and kept the logo and corporate name.  I learned all this from an informative article I stumbled across online, it outlines the whole sad history of Walnut Acres.  You can read it here (pdf).