About SVI


moonshadow Sequatchie Valley Institute (SVI) had its genesis in 1971 as a family-based homestead located on the escarpment of the Cumberland Plateau of Tennessee, which borders the beautiful Sequatchie Valley. Since then, the 300-acre homestead has been home for a sustainable lifestyle deeply integrated with the forest ecosystem. Since 1996 this unique setting has evolved into a learning center and model for sustainable living known as the Sequatchie Valley Institute, a non-profit educational organization.


The mission of SVI is to offer society an opportunity to experience and learn about living in harmony with nature by providing:

  • education, art, and research opportunities
  • land conservation and restoration
  • dynamic model residence and learning center
  • a vision for attaining a sustainable future

Projects for fulfillment of our mission include:

  • Landscape and Architecture — permaculture, edible landscaping, natural building, and alternative energy
  • Outreach, Education and Research — off-site presentations and consulting, tours, teacher enrichment and academic research
  • Moonshadow Programs — workshops, conferences, meetings and events
  • MEDIA RIGHTS — a media production company encompassing the goals of SVI, producing newsletters, video, audio, public art projects and the SVI website
  • Land Conservation — protecting and preserving the integrity and sustainability of our watershed, we have assembled a 380+ acre area

A Sense Of Place

gardenEco-friendly building techniques, using natural or salvaged building materials, permaculture design and ecological forest gardening, create the unique SVI facilities and grounds. The property also includes a gravity-fed water supply, solar electricity, and handcrafted buildings that are technologically sustainable and in harmony with the surrounding forest. The centerpiece is Moonshadow, the SVI education center and model of sustainable living. Surrounding Moonshadow are four acres of edible landscaping integrated with the forest ecosystem.

trail hikeMarked trails through the richly diverse habitat provide hikers with spectacles of bloodroot and trillium in the spring, creek swimming on hot summer days, brilliant leaf colors in the autumn and bluff vistas of the valley in the winter. From the hemlock and rhododendron glades along the creek to the laurels on the bluffs, the forest reigns supreme, making SVI a living laboratory of Appalachian ecology. Visitors to SVI develop an awareness of the interrelationships of all living things, including humans, in our bioregion.

A Sense Of Responsibility

SVI serves our surrounding area in Southeast Tennessee. We also host conferences, meetings, and workshops that bring people to SVI from all across the country. Each year, SVI passes on important and useful information to over 1,000 people who tour our facilities and participate in workshops. Countless numbers are touched by our video work. Over 1,000 people receive our quarterly newsletter. Presentations at schools and conferences reach over 1,000 people each year. SVI has organized and sponsored the National Solar Homes Tour in Southeast Tennessee for many years, Through our influence, people have learned to grow their own food, produce their own energy, build their own homes and reconnect with nature.

solar sunflowerWe see the direct results of our work each day. Teachers who have been through our in-service programs have brought classes to SVI, have built gardens at their schools and have created new curricula based on sustainable living themes. Natural Building Workshop students have built their own alternative homes. Former interns have established community-supported agriculture programs, taught environmental education at youth camps, majored in environmental studies and built community gardens from Georgia, to Mozambique, Africa. MEDIA RIGHTS interns have gained the skill and courage to produce their own video projects. SVI has inspired thousands of people to make changes in their lives that have had a positive impact on our community and on the Earth’s future.

17 thoughts on “About SVI”

  1. I have visited SVI and just LOVE what you are doing. I am a local professional bellydancer in Dunlap. I recently began teaching classes here in the Sequatchie Valley. I would like to mention that my dance troupe would be happy to offer performances and/or workshops at any SVI event. I would like to support SVI in any way I can! Thanks!

  2. Stacey, I am so glad you saw this—I was about to copy and paste the link for you, and there you are! I’m researching youth-relevant resources in Dunlap, and I am very intrigued by this!

  3. Hi Lauryn, please check our calendar and visit sometime soon… perhaps a Tour Day or on Thanksgiving… or during our Gallery Open House pre-Christmas

  4. I am grateful and humbled by what the SVI is doing. Blessings on your work! I look forward to becoming a part of this initiative, and supporting it in any way that I can.

  5. Loved the wildflower hike today. It was so exciting to learn there is such a beautiful place right up the road from where I spent my childhood. THANKS!

  6. I was at a meeting today with folks from the USDA-NAL. Check out this web site for really good down to earth farming techniques and information: http://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/organicroots,.htm

    Although I am in Maryland, I have wooded property up the side of the Cumberland Plateau north of Pikeville. Really enjoy the information you all provide.

  7. My wife and I are planning to build a cob home. Would it be possible to see some of the homes on your site?

  8. Our next public event will be a tour on March 17, 2012. We will also have 2 wildflower hikes very soon, depending on the climate and bloom progression. Please check the website soon for more information.

  9. My kids and I have recently moved to Chattanooga and I am very interested in taking a tour. However, I work on weekends and it would seem that the only tour dates listed are on a weekend. Is it possible to visit during the week?

  10. Yes, we can schedule private tours and events on weekdays, preferably groups of 10 or larger. Get your playgroup together and contact us to set a date.

  11. I visited this past weekend for a Sacred Geometry class. Very impressed with the whole experience. Great People, great teacher. I really had a good time and look forward to seeing everyone again!

  12. My husband and I would like to come and see various building techniques that would work well for the area. How do we do that? Do you have open house times or should we make an appointment?

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research and education in sustainable living