Learn techniques for sustainable living
In the long run, we'll all be living sustainable lifestyles. Many of us are already moving that way--positioning ourselves to live more sustainably--at a pace of our own choosing, rather than waiting until circumstances force our hand. Some who are further along are trying not only to live more sustainably, but also to pass on what they're learning.
I was on vacation this past week in St. Croix. Along with snorkeling along the reef, resting in the shade of the cabana (enjoying the trade winds), and (very frugally) drinking duty-free rum, I went to see the Virgin Islands Sustainable Farming Institute's Creque Dam Farm.
It's a fascinating place. Along with operating an actual working farm, VISFI's mission is a combination of research into sustainable farming techniques, outreach to make what they learn available to the community, and education in the form of classes, workshops, internships, and apprenticeships.
They're precise about what they mean by sustainability. In particular, they're not really striving for self-sufficiency (although they are self-sufficient in many areas, with solar power, their own well, fruit trees, vegetable crops, chickens and rabbits).
Things that they don't produce themselves they try to acquire locally. When that isn't practical, they try to acquire them from sustainable sources. And, although they're very serious about sustainability, they don't seem to insist on purity--they understand that different students and interns are coming to sustainability at their own pace. (So, things like peanut butter and mac and cheese are on the menu.)
I've talked about self-sufficiency and self-reliance before--about the trade-offs involved and the need to be clear about what you're trying to achieve--so I was pleased to find the folks at VISFI are thinking clearly.
I had shown up in the late morning, because that's when my brother was free to drive me up to the farm. They were fixing an early lunch and kindly invited us to join them. After a fascinating conversation about the many activities at the farm, they took us to see the chickens and rabbits, then gave us a brief tour of the orchards and fields closest to the community center.
If you want to learn more about sustainable farming, or want to learn the skills involved, you might want to consider an internship or apprenticeship at VISFI. They seem to have the right combination of a serious attitude about their mission (without which there's not always anything to learn) and a laid-back attitude about accomplishing it in the near-term (without which a place can be hard to live at for long enough to learn it).
I know of other places for learning techniques of sustainable living, but this is the only one I've visited. Anyone else with first-hand experience at any of the others?