Landscape & Architecture


The landscape design at S.V.I. comes from a land ethic based on preserving and recovering the natural biodiversity of our bioregion through the land-use and community-building movement known as Permaculture. This design philosophy encompasses ecological landscapes that produce food,
support energy-efficient buildings, and promote recycling
of materials. These components are placed in an order that
is synergistic and in harmony with the land and people.

S.V.I. maintains over four acres of edible
landscape which is integrated with the
original forest ecosystem. Fruit & nut trees and vines – as well as vegetable, herb, and flower gardens – produce organically-grown food, teas, and medicines.

We continue to maintain and improve the edible landscape as an
educational experience for visitors. The gardens provide outdoor
laboratories for new techniques in ecological agriculture.

Through our workshops, we illustrate that edible landscaping and the creation of Permaculture designs are rewarding, creative, and exciting endeavors.

Acknowledging the world’s need for food & fiber resources, and the shortcomings of major industry & modern agriculture, we support and encourage the reclamation and sustainable use of land.
As informed citizens of the world become more disenchanted with factory farming and mono-culture techniques that rely upon harsh and potentially dangerous chemicals, our example offers alternatives that work.

Low-input high-yield forms of food production used in S.V.I. gardens can be adapted to a wide range of conditions throughout the world.

Nestled between the forest and gardens are ponds with myriads of creatures and places for nature study and quiet reflection.

Natural Building and Architecture

Our architectural goals are to develop and maintain the property and facilities as examples of technologically appropriate and ecologically friendly design, harmoniously integrated with the forest and edible landscape. Handcrafted buildings utilize native and salvaged materials. Passive solar design and attached greenhouses provide heating, cooling and daytime lighting. These inspiring structures serve the needs of all who come to S.V.I. to learn.

Many of the structures feature the material known as cob (made using clay, sand, and straw). The ever-so technical process of mixing cob is seen in the pictures below:

Alternative Energy

The sun provides electricity for Moonshadow and surrounding buildings. An array of solar panels tracks the sun to collect energy which is stored in batteries to provide electricity. A stream has been diverted to a small reservoir which will eventually power a micro hydro (water) system. In order to round out the energy design, a wind charger system has been added to the system.

We provide in-depth, informative tours of the alternative energy systems and architecture at S.V.I. All structures represent exemplary passive solar design.

These innovative designs are favorites with the public:

  • Large areas of glass in south-facing walls admit the sun in winter.
  • The sun’s heat is stored in architectural rock and water, and in attached solar greenhouses.
  • North walls are well-insulated with few windows.
  • Energy-efficient rock fireplaces and stoves provide supplemental heat.
  • Deciduous trees, overhangs, and venting provide summer cooling.

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research and education in sustainable living