'Post-Fossil-Fuel World' Includes Farming With Oxen

May 10, 2011 - 8:35 AM

farm

Rural farms like this one dot the Virginia countryside. A new farm, coming soon, says it will demonstrate the joy of living in a post-petroleum world. (Photo from Living Energy Farm website)

(CNSNews.com) - What's old is new again in rural Virginia, where a new environmental education center is inviting the public to take a look at farming in what it calls the post-fossil-fuel world.

The 127-acre Living Energy Farm in Louisa County will show that “it is possible to live a healthy, joyful life without the use of any fossil fuel,” project organizers say.

They hope to set an example while actively promoting a lifestyle and technologies that are “truly sustainable” and available to all people, regardless of income or social position. The lifestyle includes cooperative housing and income-sharing.

On Friday, May 13, the Living Energy Farm will hold an open house to explain its mix of “very old and very new technologies.”

Using oxen as draft animals is part of the farm’s zero-fossil-fuel formula. The farm also plans to offer a workshop for “anyone interested in learning how to train their own oxen,” the news release said.

Energy sources at the fledgling farm will range from high density solar to steam power. Home insulation will consist of straw bales. Transportation will consist of bicycles, ox carts and vehicles that allow gasoline engines to run directly off woodchips or other cellulosic debris. And the building design will incorporate cross-ventilation for cooling and passive solar for heating.

No ‘electronic escapism’

According to the center’s Web site, “The most powerful sustainable ‘technology’ we will employ is cooperative housing in an income-sharing community. We will foster a lively community culture that will be an eye-opener for many modern youth. Though we will use some modern machines (such as solar electricity for pumping water), we will not have a general accessibility to electric power. We will pro-actively build a homemade positive social culture without electronic escapism.”

The group says it will try to meet its social and economic needs within the local area, because it wants to avoid using wood-gas vehicles as a replacement for automobiles. “In doing so, we will be actively promoting the rebuilding of local economies which will be so vital to the creation of a post-petroleum world,” the Web site says.

“So many people think that this kind of lifestyle is beyond their reach, or outside of their comfort, and we’re hoping to prove otherwise,” Debbie Piesen, one of the farm’s founders, said in a news release. “And we’re hoping to be so effective that we can help others start similar farms.”

The Living Energy Farm says it will conduct classes, accept interns, and publicize its efforts “far and wide” in the months ahead.