Eleanore Pollard, a 2016 SPI alumni from our U of R course, visited Innisfree Village, "A lifesharing community with adults with disabilities." Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Charlottesville, VA, Innisfree's Lifesharing Mission reads:
"Lifesharing at Innisfree means that residents and their volunteer caregivers live as families in the community's 15 houses. In this close-knit environment, people develop profound relationships based on mutual needs, respect, and love"
Eleanore gleaned a lot from her visit, and got to witness some beautiful and inspiring Permaculture in action. Check out her essay below. Enjoy!
"Innisfree Village values diversity. The community is made up of co-workers, volunteer caregivers, and staff members. Co-workers learn valuable life skills such as weaving, woodworking, gardening, spinning, cooking, etc. Each activity is catered toward an individual’s needs and skill level so that no one feels left out of an activity they might want to participate in. If an individual has an interest or passion outside of what they offer, they try and accommodate that as well.
Our tour guide, Trisha, was incredibly kind and open and answered every question we asked. She led us on a tour of the property and informed us about each workstation. She was very candid when asked whether the farm used any permaculture techniques or principles. Trisha told us that she didn’t think anything was purposely done following permaculture ideals but that the principles and techniques occur naturally on their farm. For example, they utilize rotational grazing for their cattle, moving the cows from pasture to pasture thus ensuring they don’t overgraze one patch of land. They have the cattle graze through first and then they bring in the sheep to eat what was left behind. They also own a Keyline plow, which they use for farming, although we did not get to see exactly what they were doing with it.
Something I also noticed they are constantly doing at Innisfree is stacking functions. Co-workers make art in all different mediums, paint, wood, fabric, yarn, etc. This serves a therapeutic function for them as well as many other functions. They sell much of their art, such as their woven scarfs or wooden cutting boards. This builds confidence by showing them that other people want to own what they have created. Selling their goods also spreads the word about their community. They also hand draw all their labels for their canned goods so each label is unique.
At Innisfree, they grow much of the food that they eat for community lunches. While I was there, co-workers were mixing soil, planting seeds, picking herbs, and sifting compost. The pride each person had from performing his or her given task was instantly apparent. The smiles and excitement on everyone’s faces was extremely contagious and I couldn’t help but well up with happiness. Innisfree Village is someplace incredibly special and I can’t wait to return someday."
-by Eleanore Pollard