I had the pleasure of sitting down with John Myers and Jane Lawson the developers of the Hickory Nut Forest GREEN/conservation community near Asheville, NC not long ago. We talked about what it takes to create such a community- their philosophy and how they designed and developed the land. Here is a segment of our conversation.
HOW ONE COUPLE ENVISIONED AND REALIZED THEIR DREAM OF AN ECO-FRIENDLY MOUNTAIN COMMUNITY
Q. How long has it taken to create the Hickory Nut Forest eco-community?
A. We have been involved in the process of creating community for nearly five years. It has been an amazing journey that has taken on a life of its own. We started out with a vision to conserve some beautiful land in the mountains of North Carolina.
We wanted to be stewards of this sacred place with its amazing forests, waterfalls, living plants and animals. As we have come to know the land intimately, we feel guided to keep expanding our vision.
Q How have you expanded on your vision to conserve this gorgeous land in the mountains of North Carolina?
We created homesites for up to 34 green-built homes, added an organic apple orchard and heirloom vineyard, placed a conservation easement on the mountain and built miles of hiking trails.
(photo shows John and Jane at one of the many waterfalls on the property the are developing near Chimney Rock just outside of Asheville, NC. )
Q How do you see the growth of Hickory Nut Forest into the mature "Green Community" you envision, and will it be a "Private Mountain Community"?
A. As new people have arrived, they have brought their enthusiasm and dreams to the community. [One of the first to arrive] Ryan was inspired to develop a community garden and with student interns created a veggie patch, an herb circle, mushroom logs, and added beehives and free-range chickens.
Folks wanted to have a gathering place, so we started building a community center at the ruins of an old gristmill. This vision has grown into creating Laughing Waters, a retreat site for year-round classes, workshops and student internships that we hope to have open by spring.
We are allowing the community to grow slowly and naturally through sharing this magical place with all who come to visit. Our free monthly events have included a bluegrass concert, apple fests, hikes, herb walks, bonfire/potlucks and kids' educational programs. People have initially come for a visit and then decided to live here.
Q. What is your guiding principle or intention?
From the beginning our guiding intention has been simply to approach everything and everyone with love and respect: our neighbors, all the people working on various projects, our visitors, the land and the water, the plants and animals, and each other. We feel such a powerful healing energy from this land. Our role is simply to make it possible for people to come here and experience it for themselves.
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