To begin, take a look at what brought you here. A view of the ridges to the South of Four Quarters, from the Labyrinth.
And your Welcome Home.
The South side of our Farm House, as always, under construction. Probably built around 1890 and abandoned in the 1960s, then returned to use in 1994. At that time driving to the Farmhouse was an adventure, and getting stuck in the dirt lane was part of the fun. Since then we have put in over a mile and a half of graveled roads, well and septic in the camp, and planted over 100 trees around the Farmhouse and its gardens. The grape vine wrapping its way around the front porch is as old as the house. We live here tied to the seasons and rhythm of The Land. Heating with wood, and working hard to minimize the amount of "stuff" in our lives. We are very "Peak Oil Aware," and believe lifeways of group sharing and ecological living are the best way to prepare for the looming age of limits. Turns out that's easy, because we also live as a monastery, an Earth Spirited Community of Service that shares a common treasury. Means that none of us receive a wage or salary for our work here. The people here are either living under professed vows of poverty and service to their community or under simple room and board arrangements. But we are not living in want; we are rich indeed. We live out of three buildings here on the land, two of which are church owned. We refer to our lifeways as "commutarian," meaning we share everything that it makes practical sense to share, and that's a lot! All of our food is processed, stored and shared out of the common kitchen in the Farmhouse, and our everyday 8:00AM morning meeting (and Farmhouse coffee) is the stuff of legend for the summer interns who have lived with us. Our vehicles are church owned and we make do with just three registered vehicles for the use of our live-in staff; try that to reduce your carbon footprint! In every decision we make about what to buy and use we ask: Will it last? Will it reduce our resource footprint? Does it increase our commitment to each other and to our Community of Service?
We have been planting and digging and building since 1995; always with the view of minimizing our ecological footprint and maximizing our ability to sustain the way we live. The picture above is of just a part of our orchards, berries and grapes, planted with a mix of new and traditional slow growth varieties. Every year we plant more. We call this real wealth! Makes us smile!
We raise a large part of our food in the gardens, and its preservation and storage are a large part of our fall routine.
In 2007 we put up about 1,200 quart jars of garden produce, cases of jams and jellies and mounds of root crops. Our beef and poultry are raised here on the land as well, and our pork is local. It is a huge job putting up all this food, much work and ends in the satisfaction of cases of food tucked away in every corner of the Farmhouse through the winter months. And during the summer, much of our garden produce is served up in the camp's "Starvin' Artist Kitchen." Raising and sharing our own food is the most radical social statement of spiritual ecology that we know how to make.
Happiness is a full woodpile. And it heats you three times, when you cut it, stack it, and burn it! We heat all of our buildings with wood, much of which we harvest from the land. And our permanent buildings have been constructed to take advantage of wood heat and our southern exposure. New construction incorporates earth berm and "thermal envelope" design, with the result that they are cool in summer and naturally warm in winter. As we build, we lay in provisions for the future addition of active solar thermal and photovoltaic collectors. Building to live sustainably is a process that is never finished. And we are (we believe) the only church in Pennsylvania to have a winery license. We cottage-craft our wines, and it is a labor of love. Our winery is a big part of our economic "Localization" efforts, a key component of sustainable living in the "Post Peak Oil World" that is fast approaching.
Taking a stroll down memory lane, we recall the transformation of the Farmhouse as we removed the first floor and excavated the old stone cellar to create the church office. This was the summer (and winter, brrr) of 2003-4. At one point, the only access to the farmhouse kitchen was by ladder. But all's well that ends, and by winter of 2005 we were warm and toasty within the new church offices, as the snow fell outside. We are pretty good with a hammer and saw, a required skill if you intend to resurrect a long-abandoned homestead for a multi-adult community. Even more so if you intend to live there sustainably, because that does mean you are doing what has rarely been done before.
Designing and building from the ground up for a very long-term view of the future and your place in it. With this in mind we broke ground for our first completely new building in the summer of 2007. Our shop and sleeping dorm. The lower shop is of course essential for our operations and contains our equipment repair, a small machine shop and a complete woodworking shop. We build our own doors, can mill moldings and tongue & groove plank. The southern exposure gives it plenty of light and most of the foundation is earth bermed. Upstairs is the sleeping and meeting area. Built with 16 foot sloped ceilings, an r-5 sealed thermal envelope on the outside skin and R-20 on the walls, natural West-East ventilation and exposed beams and braces, it will be an inviting open space. This winter (2008-09) we will be finishing this space to accommodate 16 to 20 people in comfort, with lots of open space for meetings. We hope to have it ready for our Members' use by Yule, and it should be fully finished in time for the 2009 camping season.
Breaking ground on the 48x36 foot shop in August 2007, with the roof trusses going in during a November chill. The roof goes up just as snowy weather hits, December 2007. The interior trusses with a view of the thermal envelope sealed to the outside of the structures framing. Notice also the sloping roof line to each side of the front windows; pitched and framed to take solar thermal and photovoltaic panels.
We complete the Farmhouse tour with a view of our newest project, "The Lifeboat." This addition to the Farmhouse is designed from the ground up to support 8-10 adults living as a commutarian community. The foundation level will accommodate an eight-fold increase in space for the Four Quarters Winery and a doubling of our office space. The large room off to the right is a root cellar, sized to hold two years' worth of stored food. Unseen is the foundation for a three-story Scandinavian-style masonry wood heater, far more efficient than conventional wood stoves. And on the south side are the vaults for a built in, two-story composting toilet system. Can't let that waste go to waste!
The first floor of this addition is focused on food. It will house a huge kitchen, mud room, community living and dining space. 10 foot ceilings, passive East-West ventilation and a generous southern exposure in winter should make this space friendly and comfortable year round. The second and third floors will be given over to shared living spaces, private rooms for our live-ins, and guest quarters. With the use of the shop/dorm, we hope to be able to accommodate 30 people in comfort for weekend intensives, offering our city-dwelling friends a taste of the compromises and joys of sustainable living. We do not pretend to have found "the answer," but we think we are good at asking the right questions. Consider us to be a test tube experiment in finding good questions and answers for the "Age of Limits" that we are now entering into, together.
Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary190 Walker Lane Artemas PA 17211 USA 814-784-3080 firstname.lastname@example.orgIncorporated in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as an InterFaith Non-Denominational Church, Monastery and Spiritual Retreat Center. All donations fully tax deductible as allowed by law. PA EXMP 75-538-546 FED EIN 25-1853964© 1995-2013 The Church of Four Quarters™, Four Quarters™ and Four Quarters Farm™ Free use of text expressly granted for all non-profit purposes; unchanged and with attribution to Four Quarters. All other rights reserved.