By Kalyan Uprichard, Buildings and Grounds Manager
Some of us have asked the question: Where is the Earth in Earthdance? It is under our feet right?
As an organization that holds space for exploration in the many expressions of dance but still largely takes part in the common consumer culture. Is it enough to enjoy the dance and talk about art even though we still have a really big carbon footprint?
There are clear capital improvements that we could work towards that would directly change that.
As I see it there are 3 primary resources that we as a business import and pay for: Food, Propane, and Electricity, in the order of most expensive to least. Of the 3 we spend the most on food, because we as a community have a commitment to eat the healthiest food we can. Considering that Earthdance is located on nearly 100 acres of land, would it be theoretically feasible to put aside 2% of the property to intensive food production?(about the same amount of area that is taken up by the footprint of all of our buildings and septic fields together). If we put 2% of our property into food production we could grow 75% of the food we currently consume. That would equal about $40,000.00 worth of food. We could easily then create relationships with our immediate neighbors to get everything else that we need but can’t produce, thus closing the loop of burning gas to transport food across the continent to get here.
The idea has been bouncing around recently of putting in an outdoor kitchen at Earthdance, near the garden. If we put in that kitchen we could set it up as an onsite food processing kitchen to provide food for the retreat kitchen inside, and use it as a workshop space to teach about food and making your own everything!
It would be necessary to gradually work towards growing more and more food so that we can keep up with processing and storage of it, in season. And it would also require that we cut down trees to open up more sunlit growing area. Even if only to plant other trees there that produce food that we want to eat.
Getting back to our 3 resources: the 2nd is propane, which we use to heat out buildings and our water as well as to cook with. The first thing we should look at is how to use less. The largest consumer of propane is of course for heating. If we could use some other source of heat instead of burning propane we might save a lot of money in the long run. We have a large south-facing roof on our square barn that would be a nice place to put solar hot water panels. With the right size array and enough thermal storage underground we could cut our propane bill by a third at least.
I have also been looking into anaerobic digesters, they make methane gas, which we could use instead of propane, and make it ourselves. Then we wouldn’t be buying gas being pumped out of Ohio and Pennsylvania where the fracking is f&^7ing everything up!
Everything I am talking about really means taking more responsibility for our own survival on this planet. If we just rely on the “System” we will continue to struggle and it will get harder.
But if we choose to start by the simple revolutionary act of growing our own food and expanding on that theme as we go together, we not only empower ourselves and each other but there is at least the possibility that it will get easier. Then we become part of the solution and just as you have to “set the stage for the play”, so must we plant the garden before we can dance in it!
This is all meant as an information exchange and please do not take any of this as criticism of Earthdance or the community that supports it. Earthdance is already trying to go in these directions, we did expand the garden quite a bit this year, as well as put in a green house and our seasonal Sustainability Sundays are very much intended as a platform for this very discussion.
Join us this Sunday, August 12th for Social Sustainability Sunday: participate in an introduction to Nonviolent Communication, share in a potluck dinner and conversation about sustainability and stay into the evening for our monthly Music and Movement Jam.