10 Things I learned at Avalon Organic Gardens

10 Things I learned at Avalon Organic Gardens
By Kate On August 3, 2014 In Arizona With No Comment
SONY DSCAvalon Organic Gardens and EcoVillage has something for everyone!

Amadon DellErba hosted The Buzz Bus, giving us a full tour of the property and the many initiatives they have going on throughout the 225-acre property. We spent many hours walking the property, meeting community members, and enjoying the community lunch (the best meal of the tour!). Amadon, along with the other members we met, are a wealth of information and I spent many hours afterwards processing what I learned about Avalon Gardens.

Below I have shared 10 Things I learned during our visit, although I suggest everyone tour the property themselves to fully experience the magic.

1. They have built a culture for sustainability. In 1989 Amadon’s parents began the community, now know as Avalon Organic Gardens and EcoVillage, in Northern Arizona to realize their dream of living in an environment that was nurturing, healthy, and sustainable. They combined age old practices with new technologies to create a garden of food that fed all 17 people who lived within their home. They shared the responsibilities, resources, time, and emotional support that today has become a family of over 100 members. The intentional community, now located in Tumacácori, Arizona, encourages honest, loving, and respectful communication through spiritual practice to create a sustainable culture. Because of these strong values, Avalon continues to open their doors to new members and alliances so that others can join them or just learn from them. During our meal together, I was able to experience the warmth and acceptance of a community that is creating a sustainable reality by serving others.

2. You can pursue your passions on the farm. As a community that support itself in all endeavors, Avalon has many opportunities for you to explore your passion. Whether it be farming, art, energy, water conservation, technology, teaching…they have it all. Because of the strong support system, members of Avalon are offered the chance to pursue multiple endeavors at once. Amadon is currently serving as the Events Coordinator and Public Relations manager, although he also spends time creating art, experimenting with sustainable building practices and discovering new ways to grow food. The Avalon community also creates alliances with many non-profits and educational institutions, to ensure their members have the resources they need to enhance their abilities and to share their own resources with other communities.

SONY DSC3. Music rings true for all communities. Going along the lines of ensuring they are self-sustaining, Avalon has even built their own state-of-the-art recording studio (with the same equipment Jay-Z uses!), an outdoor stage, and a music room made from straw. The community has many musical members whose passion is to create music that expresses their love for life, nature, and Avalon. Check out the many musical instruments and studio equipment in the gallery below!

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4. You can grow multiple large crops in the same field. The 3-acre polyculture garden features a variety of crops that support each others growth. Also known as ‘Companion Planting’, Avalon plants rows of fruits interspersed between rows of vegetables, ending with 10-15 varieties of vegetables and fruits within one area. Through this practice the community is helping to cultivate and preserve the natural diversity of the land. Avalon has also joined local farmers, millers and bakers to help revive White Sonora soft bread wheat and Chapalote flint corn, two of the oldest grain varieties.

5. The Monsoon season waters a forest. Another 3-acres of the property is home to a Food Forest that is sustained from the waters during the Monsoon season. The Food Forest is a long-term project that will be a self-sustaining ecosystem with the three layers of a real forest; a canopy layer, shrub layer, and ground layer – each producing its own food source for the community. The lands are graded to create channels for the collection of the rain water within the Food Forest. Some of this water is also captured in above ground tanks that distribute the water to other gardens. Because of this system, along with Grey Water Harvesting, Avalon does not use any outside source of water for any area of the 165-acre property.

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6. You can be a part of their CSA with Government Assistance. Avalon created Arizona’s first Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program in 1994 and continues to provide hundreds of people with fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs, meat, and dairy products. The gardens deliver to areas in Tucson, Green Valley, Tumacácori, Nogales, and Tubac on a weekly basis. Usually there is a 6 week minimum sign-up for the CSA, except for those using Government Assistance programs. Avalon has been certified to accept SNAP, WIC, Senior AZFMNP, vouchers, and Cash Value Vouchers – enabling those who may otherwise not have access to enjoy healthy organic produce.

7. They’ll teach you to live sustainably…outside the village. To continue serving others, Avalon offers multiple opportunities throughout the year for you learn sustainable practices. The Earth Harmony Festival, held this year in October, is a free celebration that features music, food, tours, crafts, education, and fun for all ages. You can spend the weekend on the grounds experiencing the sustainable community. Avalon also hosts half-day and full-day workshops on organic gardening, food forest development, monolithic domes, utilizing solar power, building with recycled materials, and more! The alliances they have created with various local and international non-profits, schools and businesses encourage an exchange of resources that benefits the outside community and the Avalon community.

SONY DSC8. They have a “spa”. Just as music is a love of the community, so is taking the time to care for yourself. The “spa”, known by the community as a bathhouse, has a greenhouse garden that keeps their bathhouse warm and functions as their “relaxation area”! Within another area of the property they have an outdoor shower, sauna, and pool.

9. They make buildings out of paper. To ensure as much of their waste is reused, Avalon saves all paper and cardboard products (minus the bathroom!) and turns them into a fiber pulp. By combining the pulp with various levels of cement, they are able to make block molds that have been used to create buildings, benches, and flower beds!

10. You could live with them! Avalon is always open to new community members, although there are certain standards of living that you must commit to. The Admissions office has an interview process that begins with an initial visit to Avalon, then a six-month residential program before you can join the community. “Community living is a great chance and opportunity to practice living in harmony because we are living with so many people,” says Amadon DellErba, “…but it’s not for everyone.”

There are many more aspects to Avalon Organic Gardens that are helping to positively impact the local and international community. For more programs, information, and pictures visit their website or even better, stop by for a visit and tell them we sent you!