Away But Not Gone

And now, Shasta gets real…  To be honest, this blog has become an example of many projects started and abandoned throughout my life.  What first begins full of steam, once tedious drops line by line until off the priority list completely.  Unfortunately that has been the case for this blog, and at times, for Saba Cooperative as a whole.

But that does not mean things have been slow or stalled for Saba members.  Exactly the opposite!  Evan, for example, built an earth sheltered tiny home at Bardo Farm and then began an adventure as an “ant” in Wheaton Laboratories “ant village“.  This project is unique and inspirational in so many ways and we are very proud to support and follow him through his experiences here at Evan’s Permies log.  hobbitfeet

Rich Angell continues to expand his skills as a permaculturist through completion of the Permaculture Design Course at D’Acres.  He is ever pursuing his passions of music, farming, yoga, fermenting, brewing and wildcrafting (to name a few).

Other members continue with their unique passions and goals including arts, natural health, parenting, social activism, community building, and spirituality.

As for me, all my dreams came true.  I opened a treatment program, a clinical practice with outpatient and supportive housing services for individuals struggling with addiction.  I accomplished what I spent over 10 years working toward with regard to higher educational pursuits and direct service experience.  I opened an office in New Hampshire and a section of the Domes to clients who needed care and began building my treatment empire.

Unfortunately, once I got there, it became clear it wasn’t where I wanted to be for many reasons.  Rather than detail each reason now I will focus on the main and most important: Personal Authenticity.

 

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Spring Is On The Way!

Another blog update has us at a new location and exploring yet another way of creating a holistic health center and permaculture community here in the Shire.  But, more about that in a minute…

First, to update, it’s been a busy year for Saba Cooperative.  We spent most of the spring and early summer preparing the domes in Henniker to be ready for new residents and a new style of community living.

domes after 4 domes after 3a domes after 3 domes after 5

By July the structures and grounds were ready. But, another unexpected opportunity led us off yet again. The domes became the “FreeDomes,” now managed by our friends at the Quill, and we were off to Union for yet another project.

union before 1union before 2

The structures of the new project were in rough shape and needed a lot of TLC, but we’re making progress.

union after 1 union after 2

union another way 4         union another way 1         union back

The property is quite unique. We’re bordered by a river, a waterfall, a cemetery, an intersection, a railroad, a historic park, an olde blacksmith shoppe, and a senior bingo hall/ community resource center. Where else can you find all these things in one place? We just couldn’t pass it up!

union backyard 2

union blacksmithThere is still a lot of work to do both inside and out, but before long we’ll be growing food not lawns and providing holistic therapy for people struggling with dependence. We’ve already met several of the neighbors and they’re almost as excited about our plans as we are! Some have even have been so kind as to donate some plants for our gardens!

We look forward to having guests and visitors to Another Way to see our new project and share in our dream.

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Dome Sweet Dome

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Today’s post brings more exciting news from Saba Cooperative that almost seems serendipitous.

To update, we have greatly enjoyed our stay in Hillsborough, interacting with good people, experiencing wonderful musical moments and enlightening discussions, however we have found another opportunity that just seems so right for Saba. Our friends with a property in Henniker, NH have decided they would like to help us with our dream to create a holistic health and permaculture intentional community and we can start right away!

May 11th Saba will be moving to 6.2 acres of forested hills and valleys in Henniker, NH. On the property there are three two-story structures. Two are of a unique geodesic dome construction. Strangely enough, this is the same place we were living a little over a year ago when we first founded Saba. Life is crazy like that I suppose. We will be starting many different projects right away, so please comment or contact us to get involved. Saba Sunday Share will continue every week so please, feel free to join us. Bring your skills, bring your passions, and bring your hopes and dreams for a beautiful tomorrow.

In addition to improving the general aesthetics, we’ll soon be ready to start the supportive housing component with Another Way TLP. The Transitional Living Program (TLP) will offer affordable supportive housing, healthy board, holistic healthcare, clinical and adventure-based therapies to individuals looking to transition to a healthier way of living. Monthly bed stays will range from $300-$500/month for the loft and double occupancy rooms to $800/mo for a single room. Some other more “rustic” accomodations could be discussed as well. The meal package can be added for an additional fee as can other therapeutic and holistic health packages and services. We are looking forward to letting the healing begin as soon as possible. The goal is to prepare the property for move-in for new residents by July 1st, but those looking to participate in the projects are welcome to come sooner. Please visit the website AnotherWayTLP.org for more details.

It’s amazing the way life comes full circle sometimes. It’s very exciting to think of all the potential that the property and structures have. We look forward to sharing our beautiful space with friends old and new. Come join us for an OM in the dome. See you at Saba!

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Great News!

RiverflowersWe are pleased to announce that the Saba community has found a new home in Hillsborough, NH! The land we have moved to has 140 acres of hills, valleys, forests and rocky cliffs with fruit trees and other perennial gardens, a stream, and Trees-Yardeven a swimming hole!Table There are opportunities for seasonal activities such as nature walks, hiking, mountain biking, camping, fishing, and swimming and beautiful spots for meditation and outdoor gatherings in the Spring, Summer, DSC01191DSC01196and Fall. The winter brings the cold weather, but also opportunities for activities such as snowboarding, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and ice skating. We are very excited to begin working on renovations and planning for upcoming projects.

DSC01234The structures include a gorgeous 3-bedroom post and-beam DSC01220home with cherry, wide oak, and wide pine floors throughout. The wood is from the land and beams from barns in the area. There are unique wide pine ceilings with wains coating. The modern bathrooms have granite tiles and jacuzzi tubs. The house includes open living and gathering spaces, an additional hot tub room and a fitness area. Other structures on the land include 3 houses, each with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms and a quaint 1 bedroom, 1 bathDSC01216 apartment. The structures are all DSC01228occupied at this time, however, we will now have many opportunities for gatherings, workshops, and other skill shares in a new location as well as some overnight accommodations as needed.

Beginning the 1st Sunday in February we will begin hosting, Saba Sunday Share, a weekly discussion and skills share at the new holistic health retreat. We will be sending invites to those we know who are interested, so please email with contact information and details regarding your pursuits to become involved.

The holistic health retreat will be the newest project some Saba members will be participating in on the 140 acres. The retreat will provide quality clinical care, supportive housing services, and healthy board to individuals looking to transition to physical, mental, and spiritual wellness. The retreat will provide comprehensive therapeutic, natural health, and other services to people struggling with any number of social, emotional, or general health issues. Services to be provided will include case management, individual and group psychotherapy, energy, sound, art, water and adventure therapies, nutritional health consultations, access to a fitness center and training as well as other education experiences for natural ways of planting, growing, harvesting, cooking and construction in this bio-region. These services will be provided to residents in the transitional living program for a fee.

The retreat is not yet named as we have yet to find a name that is ‘right’. We are currently interested in the feedback of others with regard to ideas for the name. It seems that the name of a place like this is very important wherefore we can’t just settle for anything. Please email or comment below with any ideas.

We are very excited for this new opportunity and we are looking forward to the Spring and starting all the permaculture projects planned for the land! We hope to hear from you regarding any ways you would like to participate.

permies

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Winter, Tiny Homes, and Tiny Chicken Coops

The days have been getting shorter and the nights colder, so here’s a picture we hope will warm your heart: 

As hard as we try, and as hard as those rocks are, our wood-burning stove here just doesn’t rock as hard as a rocket mass heater would. That’s why the earth sheltered tiny home design Evan’s been working on includes a built-in rocket mass heater. Speaking of tiny home designs, we have a whole new page dedicated to exploring a variety of compact dwelling concepts here: Tiny Home Designs

Remember those little chickens? Well, they’re pretty near grown up now and could really use a new coop to keep them warm and keep any potential predators at bay. Ideally, this coop would be small, mobile, and capable of easily integrating into a pasture paddock perennial polyculture system.

Saba Cooperative is in a transitional situation at the moment, but we hope to be able to offer more opportunities for you to get involved in the near future. In the meantime, we’d love to hear from you, so please, leave us a comment or send us an email.

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Fall Is Here

The leaves are changing colors and we’re staying busy here at Saba. Members are looking forward to attending the upcoming local harvest fair: Grafton Apple Fest. We plan on combining our participation in the cooking contest with an on-site demonstration of the practicality of rocket stove technology: making hot food available to the hungry by donation and teaching others how to build their own low-cost portable outdoor cook stoves. Here’s the flyer for the event:

The Fifth Annual Grafton Apple Festival

Sunday September 30 @ the Peaceful Assembly Church

860 Main St., Grafton, New Hampshire across from the Grafton Common

Noon to 5pm (right after regular services)

Bring your own apples and make cider with our antique apple press! (Please bring jugs or 2L bottles, too!)

Apple bake-off competition! Live local music!

Leaf-peepers, see the beautiful Grafton foliage!

This year, a special celebration of the life of Lloyd Danforth (1947-2012), the founder of the Apple Festival

Our search for land and the right financing opportunity continues. We plan to begin a 60-day fundraising campaign once we decide on the exact piece of real estate we hope to purchase, so you can expect to hear more about how you can contribute and get involved with Saba in the future.

Finally, Shasta has begun the initial stages of forming her private practice. This venture will allow for some much needed services to be provided even before we are able to make the full vision of Saba a reality. Check out her latest article, Reconsidering the Nature of Addiction Problems, and the rest of her website: CoExistCounseling.com

Happy Fall and hope to see you at Grafton Apple Fest!

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Long Overdue Update

It’s been quite a while since we last updated, and so much has happened. Besides attending two festivals back-to-back, moving to a new temporary location, and continuing our search for land, we’ve been implementing several permaculture projects in an attempt to reduce both our financial costs and our impact on the environment. Whether these projects come with us when we move again or whether they stay on the land after we leave, just working on them has been a valuable learning experience that is sure to serve us well in the future. More on permaculture in a moment, but first, the other stuff we’ve been up to:

The week of PorcFest and the following week of Burning Porcupine seemed to go by too fast to get around to doing even half of the things we wanted to do, but overall were still enjoyable and some moments were even relaxing. Our solar teas were well-received, as were the variety of foods we served: dried kale chips made from homegrown kale, chicken bacon lettuce wraps, homemade yoghurt made from local raw milk,  fruity nutty granola-ey hippie squares, and especially our cheesy low-carb gluten-free vegetarian medicinal lasagna.

We hosted impromptu permaculture conferences, multiple instrumental jam sessions, partner/flying yoga practices, laughing yoga sessions, group meditations, and generally aimed to create a calm oasis amidst the otherwise chaotic festival atmosphere. Providing space and equipment for massage/reflexology along with making a variety of essential oils and herbs available turned out to be very helpful as complementary and alternative treatment for a number of minor injuries and ailments. Interesting conversations with old friends and new friends alike abounded, but by the time it was all over and we’d finished moving into our new home, it was nice to have some quiet time and a little vacation from our vacation.

Although it’s a transitional situation as we continue searching for land to call our own, Saba Cooperative is proud to be working in tandem with another local project called the Free Grafton Embassy. The Embassy is envisioned as a place where peaceful people can feel welcome, whether for a day visit or something more long-term, a space wherein folks can come together and consensually exchange for mutual benefit, and an environment that vividly illustrates the do-it-yourself spirit of Free Grafton. During our time here, Saba aims to put into practice a diverse array of permaculture alternatives, learning as we go, and hopefully leaving the Embassy better than we found it.

With the hope of reducing our use of the propane water heater, one of the first permaculture projects we implemented upon arrival was a simple solar water heater made out of a couple of old aquariums, a piece of styrofoam for insulation, and a few plastic jugs painted black. On a sunny summer day, by mid-afternoon, the water in the jugs is just right for washing dishes, and without adding more cold water is almost too hot for showering. Soon we’ll be adding more jugs and another aquarium.

There was an overgrowth of weeds on the hillside just in front of the Embassy, and while it isn’t the sunniest spot, we felt like it was sunny enough, and close enough to the house, to justify the construction of our first hugelkultur bed there. Hugelkultur translates roughly from German as mound-culture. The idea is to use rotting logs as the base for an organic no-till garden bed. The logs act like giant sponges, soaking up water and storing it for future use, which in the long run means a bed that requires little to no irrigation, (if the bed is built tall enough.) Eventually, after providing a tasty meal for their bacterial and fungal inhabitants, and after being thoroughly tilled and fertilized by worms and a diversity of microorganisms, the logs will become a rich soil that’s the perfect medium for growing a polyculture of edible perennials. Also, as the logs break down over time, the decomposition process will generate a small amount of heat, thus extending the growing season. Hugelkultur beds are designed to build healthy soil in a way that’s quite similar to what happens naturally in a forest ecosystem.

First, we pulled a bunch of big, juicy, rotting logs out of the woods on the property and piled them up in a rough approximation of the shape we wanted for the bed. Then, lots of leaves, and since it was available, we threw on some kitchen scraps and other compostables, followed by some leftover potting soil. In the search for rotting wood to add, we discovered that around the trunk and roots of rotting stumps we would often find dark, rich soil. This natural humus we dug out by hand and added to the hugelkultur bed. After thoroughly covering up the logs with leaves and then soil, it was time to sow. In went some potato cuttings, a few potted plants, (strawberry, sunflower, pepper, squash,) that desperately needed to spread their roots, and an assortment of random seeds that were getting a little old. Finally, straw mulch was added to top off the mound and help keep it moist, and a few earthworms were introduced to their new home. We’re not expecting anything extraordinary for the first year, as the mass of carbon takes time to pull the nitrogen up from down below, but we’re hoping that it pays off in the long-term with high yields and comparatively little maintenance. Since that first experiment, we’ve managed to build a second hugelkultur bed nearby and just finished a third one down the hill from the first. Meanwhile, some of the squash and other plants sprouted from seed in the first two beds are rapidly overtaking the formerly potted transplants, some of the potato plants are doing nicely, there’s some kale coming up, and the sunflowers transplanted in the second bed have started to bloom. The third bed was planted with a variety of brassicas and herbs, and some legumes were thrown in to help fix nitrogen. We just got a huge load of free rabbit manure, and a little of that went into each of the beds as well.

Yet another permaculture project we started here at the Embassy is a three-stage composting system. With just a few screws and three old wood pallets, we slapped together the first chamber of a three-chamber compost bin. With a few more pallets, we’ll be able to build the second and third chambers. The idea here is to fill up the first chamber for the first year, then move onto the second chamber for the second year, then the third chamber for the third year. By the end of the third year, the compost in the first chamber has been breaking down for two years and should be a rich humus ready for use in the garden. Scoop it out, and start over in the first chamber. Using this method, all manner of organic kitchen scraps, yard trimmings, and manure can be composted safely and efficiently. One tweak to this system that we’re planning on implementing is a fourth chamber, with a shed roof over it, in which to store dry carbon cover materials, like sawdust, nearby. Whenever anything is added to the compost pile that might smell or attract flies, it helps to add some carbon cover material to keep everything neat and well-balanced.

We’re helping to raise chickens while we’re here at the Embassy. Right now, a little flock of chicks is sharing a stationary coop and run, but eventually we hope to build a mobile micro-coop and acquire some fencing to implement a perennial polyculture pasture system.

Finally, in an attempt to reduce our use of the electric stove, we built a portable rocket stove for cooking outside. With two #10 cans, four “family-size” soup cans, and a few handfuls of expanded clay aggregate, we managed to build a high-efficiency wood-burning cook-stove. The only tools used were a permanent marker and a really tough pair of scissors. We’re hoping to host a workshop soon wherein participants will be invited to help build a full-size rocket mass heater onsite and also given an opportunity to build their own portable rocket stove to take home with them.

As far as the Wholly Permaculture Bible goes, because it’s summer, we don’t want to spend all day inside on the internet researching and compiling information about all the different species of organisms (potentially) living here. There’s so many other things that need to get done, and only so many months of warm weather and sunlight in which to do them. In other words, expect more updates to the species list as the days get shorter.

Not wanting to rush into anything, we’re still looking at our options for buying land, and we’re open to many possibilities including partnerships with like-minded neighbors. Thanks to an absence of zoning laws and a relatively friendly planning board, Grafton in particular presents an opportunity for creatively subdividing a larger parcel into several smaller ones. How about an eco-village of tiny homes, each with their own edible forest garden, bordering Saba and within walking distance of our envisioned community center? The inhabitants of such a village could own their own land and wouldn’t necessarily have to be Saba members. The opportunities for cooperatively building and growing a sustainable local economy are limitless. Email us if you’d like to help in our mission to create a holistic health and permaculture paradise here in the Shire.

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Festival Recap, New Member, and More

Bardo Farm Fest was awesome! We had some folks join us for Yoga Without Yoga Masters. Our medicinal teas, hippie squares, massage, and aromatherapy went over well. We’re planning to add chicken lettuce wraps and Rich Angell’s famous kefir and yoghurt to our menu next time around. Speaking of, the next festival we’re planning on attending, Porcupine Freedom Festival, in Lancaster, NH, is going on June 18-24. That’s right around the corner!

Saba Cooperative welcomes the Visionary Rich Angell as our newest member! Rich has been very helpful and a wonderful friend since the beginning and it was about time we made it official.

An article from another of our visionaries, Evan, has been posted: Examining Dependence on Harmful Systems and Exploring Alternatives.

Updates to the Permaculture Bible are turning out to be less regular than we’d initially hoped, but Coltsfoot, a dandelion look-alike and traditional cough medicine, has been added. And a page on compost microorganisms is in the works. We’re slowly but surely documenting biological diversity here at Saba.

Also, you might have noticed, up in the address bar, that it now says sabacooperative.org, instead of sabacooperative.wordpress.com. Pretty spiffy, huh? The older one will still work and will redirect to the new one, but feel free to share this shorter new address with all your friends.

The search for land continues, and we’re considering starting on a smaller scale than originally envisioned. One of the principles of permaculture is small and slow solutions, and we aim to demonstrate permaculture’s applicability on many different levels.

Finally, the events calendar for June has been posted. Hope to see you at Saba!

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Springtime at Saba

It’s springtime at Saba; the leaves are budding on the trees, the dandelions are in bloom, and we’ve been busily working towards our vision of tomorrow.

We’re very close to making an offer on a southern-facing hillside, and we’ll keep you updated on our progress. We sent in an updated Earth Island sponsorship proposal with a focus on the educational value we will be providing the community, including a list of workshops we hope to make available over the rest of this year. Check out our new Workshops page and see if we’re doing anything you want to come participate in, whether to learn or help teach.

We published another of Shasta‘s articles: Natural, Eastern, and Other Alternatives to Psychotropic Medication, and we’ve been slowly but steadily making updates to our Wholly Permaculture Bible.

The events calendar for May has been posted, so feel free to check it out and let us know if and when you’d like to come visit for any of our weekday or Saturday activities. Finally, don’t forget, Bardo Farm Festival is going on the last weekend of the month, and Saba will be there: making goods and services available, teaching an acroyoga/partner yoga workshop, and enjoying the live music, beautiful atmosphere, and wonderful company.

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Permaculture Update and Visionaries Page Added

Saba’s Wholly Permaculture Bible has been updated. Now it’s no longer just a placeholder, as our first complete page has been added, and the beginnings of the species list is coming together. We’re hoping to make regular updates to the Permaculture Bible by adding at least 1-2 new pages a week for as long as we continue discovering new forms in the diversity of life here at Saba Cooperative.

This is a long-term project, as we anticipate finding hundreds and even thousands of different species of macroscopic plants, fungi, and animals living together in this neck-of-the-woods alone. And that’s not even touching on the incredible diversity of microorganisms that inhabit the soil. A single teaspoon of soil may contain 600-800 million bacteria comprising 10,000 species, plus perhaps 5,000 species of fungi, the mycelia of which could be stretched out for several miles. In the same teaspoon, there may be 10,000 individual protozoa of perhaps 1,000 species, plus 20-30 different nematodes from as many as 100 species. Clearly, the Permaculture Bible will be a work-in-progress for the foreseeable future.

We’ve also added a Visionaries page, where you can find information about some of the human members of the Saba family, and some of their individual projects and interests. Check it out, and particularly Shasta’s excellent graduate thesis: Reconsidering the Nature of Consciousness.

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