Solar Cooking at Living Energy Farm



Barnraising at Living Energy Farm

Our goal in creating the Living Energy Farm is to incorporate the best of old and new technologies in a community setting that demonstrates that real sustainability is not only possible, but desirable.

We have strong support and involvement from members of existing communities in the central Virginia area, and will continue to network with these groups.




Processing Seeds at Living Energy Farm

The Living Energy Farm is a project to build a community, education center, and farm that demonstrates that a fulfilling life is possible without the use of any fossil fuel. Our mission is to serve as an example and actively promote lifestyles and technologies that are truly sustainable, and to make these sustainable technologies accessible to all persons regardless of their income or social position.







A workparty breaking for lunch

The Living Energy Farm will be designed to maximize cooperative use of tools and materials among its members. Cooperative use is probably the single most important “technology” that will allow us to make a fully sustainable lifestyle accessible to people of the most meager of means.


Living Energy Farm

Mission statement

The Living Energy Farm is a project to build a community, education center, and farm that demonstrates that a fulfilling life is possible without the use of any fossil fuel. Our mission is to serve as an example and actively promote lifestyles and technologies that are truly sustainable, and to make these sustainable technologies accessible to all persons regardless of their income or social position.


What is the Living Energy Farm?

Living Energy Farm is a project to build an environmental education center in Louisa County Virginia. We are building a zero fossil fuel school and community that demonstrates that it is possible to live a healthy joyful life without the use of any fossil fuel. Employing both very old and new technologies, LEF is being built to be a self-sufficient farm. We are hosting youth interns in an educational program covering diverse areas of modern sustainable living. We teach weekend workshops on subjects including organic gardening and orcharding, the use of draft animals, green building with low-tech and local materials, solar water and space heating, solar electricity, woodgas, biogas, composting toilets, greywater systems, bicycle repair, and other subjects. Most importantly, people involved with LEF are learning about the importance of sustainable technology in context, about when and where such technologies are effective and when they are not. The most powerful sustainable “technology” we employ is cooperative housing in an income-sharing community. We foster a lively community culture that is an eye-opener for many modern youth. Though we use some modern machines (such as solar electricity for pumping water), we do not have a general accessibility to electric power. We are endeavoring to pro-actively build a homemade positive social culture without electronic escapism.


How will we do it?

Our staff already have hands-on experience with all of the tools and technologies necessary to make this project work. The technologies being develolped by the Living Energy Farm include:

Super-insulated buildings using locally available, cheap or free materials. Our first house is being built to existing codes. This is being achieved using simple design and super-insulating straw bale walls. From there we will build demonstration structures out of very low-cost materials, rock, discarded masonry, organic materials and clay from the land to demonstrate that super-insulated, comfortable living spaces can be built using the most basic of materials.

For winter heating our housing has been designed to employ very high-mass active and passive solar. This allows a house to store heat for days. Wood pyrolysis that captures the heat from wood while largely eliminating smoky pollution will be integrated, but will be needed only on a limited basis.

For summer cooling, our housing has been designed to employ creative designs that allow for natural cross ventilation of all living spaces. The buildings are being situated to use agricultural irrigation water as a heat sink, thus achieving a limited air conditioning using no added energy other than that which would already be needed for irrigation.

For farm traction, we are going to rely primarily on woodgas. Woodgas is an old technology that was heavily employed throughout Europe during WWII. It allows gasoline engines to run directly off of woodchips or other cellulosic debris. We also have draft animals (a pair of oxen) and will keep the farm design scaled to moderate horsepower needs.

For cooking we have solar parabolic cookers and solar ovens. We have wood cookers, and are developing biogas and high-temperature thermal storage.

For refrigeration, we will use a solar ammonia loop refrigeration system developed by the STEVEN Foundation (Sustainable Technology and Energy for Vital Economic Needs) for use in the underdeveloped world. This refrigeration system has no electronics and no moving parts, and can be built out of low-cost materials.

For other general energy needs, we are employing direct-drive solar electric (no batteries)/ We are devceloping biogas and small-scale steam power.

For transportation, we are using bicycles and woodgas. (For the first 3 years of the project, we have allowed ourselves access to fossil fuel machinery to get some infrastructure in place. Our land had no infrastructure whatsoever when we first acquired it.) We do not intend to promote woodgas as a replacement for the widespread use of automobiles. Instead, we will endeavor to meet our social and economic needs with the local area. In doing so, we will be actively promoting the rebuilding of local economies which will be so vital to the creation of a post-petroleum world. We have and will continue to emphasize the importance of the context in which energy is used rather than the energy source itself, thus educating people about the limitations and wise use of biofuel and other alternative energy sources.

The Living Energy Farm is being designed to maximize cooperative use of tools and materials among its members. Cooperative use is probably the single most important “technology” that will allow us to make a fully sustainable lifestyle accessible to people of the most meager of means.

Our goal is incorporate the best of old and new technologies in a community setting that demonstrates that real sustainability is not only possible, but desirable. We have strong support and involvement from members of existing communities in the central Virginia area, and will continue to network with these groups. We will employ a “bridge,” a location where we have access to modern media and the internet. This bridge will allow us to make ourselves known to the larger world. The Living Energy Farm will conduct classes, accept interns, and publicize its efforts far and wide. We look forward to your involvement in our project.


How to get involved

If you want to stay informed about the project, add your contact info below and we will put you on the mail/email list. We will not share or make public your email or postal address.


  Yes! I am interested in Living Energy Farm.
I would like to:
  Receive the regional email newsletter (This email list receives one and only one email per week about LEF.)
  Receive the general email newsletter (This email list receives one and only one email per month in the form of our email newsletter.)

If you do not check one of the boxes above, you may never hear from us as we cannot afford to send out postal mail very often.
  Be on the postal mailing list
  Come out to the land and work on building infrastructure
  Contribute resources from afar
(in the form of equipment, supplies, etc.)
  Make a financial contribution
  Help promote Living Energy Farm (networking within your circle, linking to our web page, hosting house parties, joining the LEF Outreach Team)
  Name Required
  Email Required
  Address
  City
  Province Country
  Phone
  Comments
   
    Form powered by dB Masters Multimedia FormM@iler

 


How to donate, through Virginia Organizing:

Donations to the Living Energy Farm support our educational programs, which in turn help support our farm and community.

You can choose to make a one time donation or set up a recurring donation that will sustain our work. By clicking on our donation button you will be routed to the donation page for the fiscal sponsor of our educational programs, Virginia Organizing When routed to their site, it is very important that you fill out the "designation" field with "Living Energy Farm." Otherwise the money will not go to our project. Thank you for your support.

Virginia Organizing is officially registered with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, P. O. Box 1163, Richmond, VA 23209. You can write to this Department for all relevant financial statements and procedures regarding the solicitation of contributions. Your donation is tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

donate


Contact us

Living Energy Farm
1022 Bibb Store Road
Louisa, VA, 23093