About Ahimsa Acres
Ahimsa Acres is an owner-built homestead situated on a south-facing slope on a largely forested 8-acre site about 5 miles east of Cottage Grove (the closest town, pop. about 9,000) and 20 miles south of Eugene, Oregon. Dale Lugenbehl and Sandy Aldridge serve as Co-Directors of Ahimsa (see bios below). Approximately one acre is devoted to the house, gardens and orchards, and the other 7 acres are oak and fir forest which continues onto several hundred surrounding acres belonging to neighbors. Swimming, hiking and camping is available reasonably close by and a bus to Eugene is available in Cottage Grove. There is no bus from Cottage Grove to Ahimsa Acres nor is there wifi here, but it is available in Cottage Grove itself.
The house is a passive solar design and solar panels provide almost all of the electricity used on site. The system is both grid-tied and stand-alone and, through increasing efficiencies of the homestead, may soon provide for all of the electrical needs. All roofs are metal and all rain water is captured and guided through gravity-powered systems, for use before heading downhill to the seasonal stream and year-round pond.
Besides gardening and orcharding, there are always building projects of some kind going on-mostly small scale at this point. All work is done to quality standards and the use of new materials is kept to a minimum in order to 1) keep things out of the landfill by removing them from the so-called "waste stream", and 2) to reduce the impact on the environment that is caused by constant creation of "new" materials.
Everything isn't work here. Although we really enjoy our work, we also find time to exercise regularly, to take walks and hikes, to swim, to play music, to visit with friends and neighbors, to read, and enjoy lengthy discussions. Vipassana Buddhist meditation and discussion are available for those who are interested. Cars and mechanical equipment play only a small part here; we are trying to limit the amount of petroleum needed.
Our aim is continually increasing self-sufficiency and sustainability through a combination of learning to provide for more of our needs on site and serious conservationism. The lifestyle is vegan with the majority of food needs being met here. Crops include a variety of fruits (including apples, pears, figs, Asian pears, plums, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, huckleberries, jostaberries, goumi and autumn olive), vegetables (including asparagus, artichokes, Jerusalem artichokes, yacon, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, cabbage, collards, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, potatoes, garlic, onions, corn, summer and winter squashes, cucumbers, melons, carrots, beets, celery, parsley, basil, Swiss chard, beans, peas, lettuces, various Asian leafy greens, spinach, and a variety of herbs), and nuts (hazelnuts and chestnuts not actually producing much yet). We are practicing many elements of permaculture and growing roughly 75% of what we eat. This is done through year-round gardening, drying, freezing, and both in-ground and geo-thermally powered cold storage.
People may visit Ahimsa Acres as part of an arranged tour, to take a class or workshop, or to work as an intern/volunteer through the WWOOF-USA program. We are looking for people committed to conserving the earth's resources-curious people who question the ability of the Western way of existing to satisfy them in any meaningful way-people who want to experience a more direct hands-on life. It is appreciated if interns ("WWOOFers") choose to participate in most facets of the activities here. What we could use help with is planting, weeding, thinning, harvesting, preserving, use of organic (nontoxic) disease prevention substances, soil (fertility) building, as well as with our various construction projects. Being an early riser is a desirable trait. Strong interest in sustainable living and healthy lifestyle, open to new ideas, interest in learning in a broad range of areas, curiosity, willingness to live simply while staying with us are all highly valued.
At the present time there is a need for WWOOFers from late May through early October. Length of stay would be from one day to indefinite depending on how things are going. Accommodations are currently tenting/camping with the use of a small cabin when it's actually finished. There are no accommodations for pets or children. Drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and any animal source foods are not to be brought or used here. Languages are English and minimal Spanish.
Dale Lugenbehl is Co-Director of Ahimsa Acres. Dale grew up in the Los Angeles area, and attended college for 11 years after graduation from high school. For 3 years he attended California State Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo and studied architecture. After that, he studied at California State University at Long Beach (BA in art, BA in philosophy, MA in philosophy) and then at the University of California at San Diego (MA in philosophy). His education also includes 18 years of Buddhist study, practice, meditation retreats, and sangha work, drawing on the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh, Joseph Goldstein, Sharon Salzberg, Jack Kornfield, Eckhart Tolle, and others.
For more than 30 years Dale has been a college and university teacher, teaching western and eastern philosophy and meditation. In 1994, Dale moved to Oregon with wife Sandy Aldridge, and started construction on their homestead which would eventually become Ahimsa Acres. In 1994, as a result of living simply, Dale and Sandy were able to become job independent. Dale has taught part time at Lane Community College in Eugene from 1995 to present. Dale does most of the design and construction work at Ahimsa, and also is primarily responsible for the orchards. Other activities and interests include, writing for academic as well as popular periodicals, and offering guest talks and classes in the local community: the ethics of personal food choices, voluntary simplicity/low consumption living, alternative energy systems and sustainable building methods, environmentally conscious home food production, living wisely in an era of ongoing resource depletion and climate change, understanding the processes of personal and societal change, nonviolent communication and compassionate living, and engaged Buddhism.
Sandy Aldridge is Co-Director of Ahimsa Acres. Sandy grew up in the San Francisco area, and attended college at California State University at Chico (BA Sociology) and Southern Oregon University (MA Social Sciences). Her education also includes 18 years of Buddhist study, practice, meditation retreats, and sangha work, drawing on the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh, Joseph Goldstein, Sharon Salzberg, Jack Kornfield, Eckhart Tolle, and others.
Sandy taught sociology and women's studies for 5 years, and has also taught personal enrichment classes for seniors and worked as a college academic advisor. Sandy is a long time environmentalist and has found great inspiration in Gandhi's injunction to "live simply so that others may simply live." In 1994, Sandy moved to Oregon with husband Dale Lugenbehl, and started construction on their homestead which would eventually become Ahimsa Acres. In 1994, as a result of living simply, Sandy and Dale became job independent. Sandy does most of the vegetable gardening, food preparation and preservation, organization, and accounting work at Ahimsa, and also teaches gardening. Other activities and interests include giving presentations on living more lightly, the connections between one's food choices and the environment, and the connections between peace and sustainability.