The Green Beat

By Anna Waugh

The EcoHouse has made its way through the news circuit this year as a real life model for green living and community. The four students who have lived in EcoHouse this year have helped to shape its mission, and served as examples for those who will come after them. “We came on in the first semester with no requirements. There were no obligations,” Austin Werth ’09 said. However, he has spent the year outlining missions, helping with the application process for next year’s residents, starting the website and planning events for the community to learn more about what it means to live in a house that communally tries to live sustainably, “respecting other people and the earth.”

Two events are planned for this semester. On March 25, there will be an EcoHouse launch event for the campus. On April 5, a civic engagement workshop will draw connections between ideas the EcoHouse is exploring and their application in the greater community and on campus.

The house will also be getting new landscaping this spring with a permaculture garden project overseen by Asa Diebolt ’09 and Sarah Claasen ’08.

“Permaculture is a way of basing agriculture on natural elements, suiting how you are growing food to the climate you are in,” Claasen said. The garden will be mostly edible plants and herbs. Other plants will serve as a food source for native bird and good insect species – ginger, gooseberry, wintergreen and hazelnut to name a few. It will be a mixture of small and large shrubs, groundcover and trees.

Diebolt came up with the idea of the garden last year after reading Edible Forest Gardens by David Jacke, and then drew up the designs before studying away this semester. Claasen will take over with planting the garden this spring.

“It’s a cool education opportunity because there are so few of these around,” Claasen said. “We are trying to do a lot of education [and] mulch and the EcoHouse will maintain it.”

Environmental Studies Professor Chris Wells helped to start the house last year and said that the “[EcoHouse] project has brought people together from across the college in wonderful ways. Facilities management did a heroic job of finding $50,000 for renovations. The Dean of Students office was instrumental in approving the project and the college itself believed enough in the project to donate a house.”

Though it has been a successful year at the house, all of this year’s residents will be moving out at the end of the semester.

“We should pass it on and let other people have this experience,” Werth said. Applications for next year will be due on March 28.