Ecovillage Charlottesville: A Great Place for a Retreat

It’s the new semester and the Green Grounds blog is back for another round! We’re starting off 2015 with a post about the Ecovillage Charlottesville. Haven’t heard of it? Think of it like a sustainably-oriented community center. At about 6.5 acres, it can ultimately support 24 apartments. Currently, there are two buildings on the property: The Lochlyn House and the cottage.

Conceptual site plan as of August 2014.

The Lochlyn House was built around 1870 as a farmhouse. The property was used to grow ginseng which was ultimately shipped to China. In the 1950s, distant granddaughters of Thomas Jefferson purchased the house and did a bit of remodeling, such as adding an upstairs deck. From the deck, they could gaze upon Monticello. Due to the remodeling, the Lochlyn House can no longer be considered a historic house. Despite that, its residents have furnished the house with a 1950s period theme. It’s quite lovely to sit in the upstairs porch area, which is enclosed by glass, making it an excellent sun room.

The cottage hosts yoga, dance classes, and lessons. You can even reserve the space for group meetings. It’s recently been fitted with a deck so you can gaze upon, that’s right, the chickens. There are currently 6 chickens on the property and they all lay eggs. Upon walking into the foyer of the Lochlyn House, there are the free range chicken eggs in cartons. All the community members ask is that you leave a donation for 1 dozen eggs.

One of the goats from the ecovillage. Photo from ecovillagecharlottesville.org

In addition to the chickens, there are three adorable goats. Why goats, you ask? Back when the sisters owned the house, they planted invasive species such as English Ivy and bamboo on the property. These plants in particular flourish and grow at rapid rates. The goats have their own enclosed wire pen and they eat the plants. In other words, remove the invasive species for free! (Life doesn’t get better than that, does it?) The owners move the pen around the property once the goats eat the invasives in one area.

The three billy goats gruff. (Not exactly.) Image from ecovillagecharlottesville.org
Before and after photos of the property once the goats have done their job! Image from ecovillagecharlottesville.org

So why care about this place? Sure, it’s cool that it has gardens and animals, but so what? The Ecovillage serves as a place where sustainability-minded people can come together and collaborate on projects on and off site. Even by visiting the ecovillage for an afternoon, I learned about many different initiatives around the Charlottesville area, such as retrofitting old apartments with better insulation and lightbulbs while still making them affordable to renters.

Definitely check out the calendar because there are potlucks and bonfires almost every week! Sundays are workdays where you can get down in the dirt and potlucks are later in the evening. Hopefully, Green Grounds can attend one of the workdays this semester and help to prepare a new area of the land for a garden. There is also an engineering group from UVa that is currently designing a children’s play area. Once the plans are fully developed, they’ll need the manpower to make it happen. If you’re looking for something sustainable to do for an afternoon, go to the ecovillage. You’re bound to have great stories when you return home!

 

Cover image of the Lochlyn House from cvilletomorrow.org

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