Saturday, January 16, 2010

Brief Introduction

Long Branch Environmental Education Center

The Long Branch Environmental Education Center is a small educational institution located (map) in Buncombe County's Newfound Mountains, about 18 miles northwest of Asheville, North Carolina. Set aside in 1974 as an ecological sanctuary and land trust, it has developed into an educational center for sharing positive strategies of local self-reliance in the areas of environmental design, organic food production, renewable energy, shelter design and construction, appropriate technology, resource conservation, recycling, wildlife protection and improved environmental quality.

The Long Branch mission is CEDARS

* Conservation: We strive to encourage conservation of all ecosystems and natural resources, including air quality, water quality, soil, and all biological diversity.

* Education: We strive to educate the public about strategies relating to ecological literacy, natural resource conservation, renewable energy, community self-reliance, appropriate technologies, and practices of sustainability.

* Design and Demonstration: We strive to design and demonstrate sustainable systems.

* Advocacy: We strive to advocate for conservation of all natural resources and biological systems.

* Research: We strive to engage in research programs in conservation biology, renewable energy, community self-reliance, appropriate technologies and sustainable systems.

* Restoration: We strive to practice ecological restoration.

* Sustainability: We strive to encourage sustainability as a measure of every human endeavor.

The Land

The land itself is 1635 acres of rugged wilderness and farmland ranging in elevation from 3,000 to 5,152 feet in the Newfound Mountain range, a side-chain between the Black Mountains to the east and the Great Smoky Mountains, 9 miles to the west. Over sixteen hundred acres are mostly eastern hardwood forest, with several mountain springs and streams where rare and endangered native plant species are conserved. Five acres are managed in a Permaculture design of small scale organic gardens, crops, orchards, and rainbow trout aquaculture in an integrated edible landscape.


Structures on the land include a passive solar office and staff residence, a passive solar cabin, two attached solar greenhouses, three composting toilets, one passive solar conference center, a traditional 1918 farm house with a state-of-the-art energy conservation retrofit, an old tobacco barn, and miscellaneous outbuildings, including a secluded retreat shelter.


Objectives of the Center are:

1. Conservation -- promoting the stewardship of natural resources within the Southern Appalachian bioregion including its land, wilderness, topsoil, plant and animal species, air and water quality, and all genetic resources

2. Research -- experimenting with strategies of environmental design and Permaculture,organic farming and orcharding, aquaculture, passive solar shelter design, attached solar greenhouse construction and horticultural use, domestic solar water heating, micro-hydropower systems, recycling, composting, and waste utilization, and compost toilet systems

3. Education -- sharing these strategies with the public through interpretive and demonstration programs, conferences, seminars and workshops in order to promote overall environmental design, sustainability, self-reliance, appropriate technology, and environmental integrity.


Programs revolve around sharing Long Branch -- the place, the people and their skills -- with youngsters and adults from the general public. Long Branch is open to the public daily; general visitors come to hike the trails, birdwatch, visit the demonstration passive solar residences and greenhouses, and to observe (and often participate in) whatever is going on at the moment, whether it is gardening, building, or a migratory bird census.

Each spring through fall a series of weekend workshops and longer programs are held, on topics ranging from organic gardening, fruit and nut tree grafting, wilderness survival skills, Permaculture, environmental design and edible landscaping, citizen environmental action, Appalachian geology, aquaculture, beekeeping, small animal husbandry, recycling and waste utilization, solar food drying and preservation, masonry wood stove construction, solar greenhouse and low-cost solar hot water system design and use, to micro-hydropower.

Throughout the year, day-long visits by school and college classes are welcomed. Volunteers are enthusiastically encouraged, and an internship program is also offered year-round.

Long Branch staff are involved with speaking in the greater Southern Appalachian area on topics ranging from environmental action to resource conservation to alternative energy, and cooperating with other groups and organizations to further public awareness and understanding of the need for resource conservation, renewable energy and environmental integrity.

The primary audience is students, including grade school as well as college students. They also wish to educate the general public as a whole.

Visit Their Website Here.

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