Global Village Institute for Appropriate Technology

184 Schoolhouse Ridge Rd./P.O. Box 90
Summertown TN 38483-0090 USA
TEL: 931-964-4474
Internet: ecovillage at
Fax: 931-964-2200
Go to the Ecovillage Training Center at The Farm
Visiting us on a mobile platform? Try our Wix site!

Global Village is a non-profit organization created in 1974 and chartered as a tax-exempt charity in 1984 for the purpose of researching and disseminating promising new technologies that can benefit humanity in environmentally friendly ways. The philosophy of the Institute is that emerging technologies that link the world together are not ethically neutral, but often have long-term implications for viability of natural systems, human rights and our common future...

We can receive donations directly using any major credit card or your bank account via PayPal (donate to ecovillage at thefarm dot org and specify your greatest interests, or use this handy link:

Please visit our growing library of tools and techniques now in the public domain.
Your contributions welcome!

Eco-Iwo by Albert Bates (c) Copyright 1990 by The Book Publishing Company, All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Where we are planting trees right now:

at the Marda Permaculture Farm, Palestine

providing water, food, fuel, peace and hope to the peoples of the Middle East from the peoples of the Middle East

$20 from you plants 10 trees!

One tree removes 55 pounds of carbon each year, equal to 1100 miles of car travel or 5500 miles in a commercial airliner (assuming 2 passengers out of 200 on the flight).

Join Starhawk (USA), Klaudia van Gool (UK) and Murad Alkhufash (PA) 16-30 May 2013 in Marda Village, Salfit, Palestine, for the full Permaculture Design Certification Course

Read about The Palestinian Farmer Who Grows His Own Resistance

and visit out Facebook Site: Marda Permaculture

Climate Farming

We are now working with keyline injection of biochar in a compost tea slurry to regenerate degraded soils.

Transition Initiatives

We are part of the Transition Towns movement. Our county seat at Hohenwald, Tennessee is the 25th Transition Town in the USA.

We are working with county government, the business community, local charities, and the public to create a resilient and ecologically responsive economic fabric that will endure the turmoil and chaos of The Great Change now underway.

Learn More

Book CoverThe Biochar Solution: Carbon Farming

and Climate Change

by Albert K. Bates

available from

and available in Kindle from

Now Sponsoring
Culture Change,
the Sail Transport Network
and an international
plastics ban
protecting the Pacific Gyre while trying to outlaw BPA.

donations welcome

2014 STN-Pedal Power Produce wish list

Equipment and materials:
Sailboats (purchased, gotten at auction, donated, borrowed, or built).
Bike carts (folding and nonfolding).
Bicycles (folding and nonfolding).
Skiffs, kayaks, lifeboats.
WInd-power generator for boat.
Solar panels for boat (foldable on awnings as well as panels).
Sails, rigging.
Navigation instruments.
Tools for repair and maintenance tasks.
Charts and books.
Materials for outreach (brochures, STN burgees, t-shirts).
Foul weather gear.
Safety equipment.
Work or contributions of time:
Crew on sailboats.
Data entry clerk.
Fundraiser or Development Director.
Activism director (campaigns, anti-plastics action or reseach on river or ocean, etc.).
Marine work (woodworking, fiberglass mending, hauling out vessel, painting, rewiring, plumbing, diving service, mechanic, sailmaker).
Long-voyages research (setting up deliveries from tropical ports to U.S. coasts, for example).
Website and other computer programming work (including online match-making for sailors, passengers, captains, CSA subscribers, farmers).
Website forum moderator.
Editor of (now under development)
Barter coordinator (e.g.: food in exchange for a keg of beer, or delivery-service done in exchange for some favor or object).
Farmers, depavers, vendors (for our own Farmers Markets stalls if necessary)
Community and Regional support (Portland E.A.T.S., Food Not Bombs or other services).
Cultural outreach: exchanging information, knowledge, art, technology between coastal and island communities.
Housing coordinator: finds boats or bedrooms in houses to stay in, or camping assistance, for visiting crew or activists participating in a voyage or other aspect of STN/PPP or Culture Change or other group such as CIty Repair.
Translators (e.g., for Spanish language interaction).

Cost items having monthly payments:
Rent for slips.
Insurance costs.
various Fees.
Communications services (phones, carrier pigeons, smoke signals).
Travel for outreach inland (train tickets).

Climate Farming and Financial Permaculture

Taught by the leading experts in sustainable agriculture and carbon sequestration, Darren Doherty, Joel Salatin, Elaine Ingham, Kirk Gadzia, Jeff Poppen, Brad Lancaster & Eric Toensmeier, our 4-week design course in 2009 put all the pieces together to form a mosaic of ecological design to help rural businesses, farmers and householders produce safe and forward thinking products, and fresh organic produce, while putting carbon into the soil and shifting the trajectory of climate change back towards equilibrium. In 2010 we said we need a strong step towards putting a price on carbon. At the end of that year we saw that step taken in Cancun, where our NGO delegation attended the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. A pilot carbon farming and biochar stove program we are associated with is now officially certified for carbon credits. We also published two compendia of the science, history and vision of an agricultural revolution in The Biochar Solution and The Biochar Revolution.

In 2013 we compressed the Climate Farming course into an accessible weekend workshop and offered it in North America and Europe. This year we we will be touring and lecturing again, but much of our time will be spent putting this into practice at home and advancing the art.

Relocalization, Transition, or Financial Permaculture, are different names used to describe a strategy to build societies based on the local production of food, energy and goods, and the local development of currency, governance and culture. The main goals are to increase community energy security, strengthen local economies, and to dramatically improve environmental conditions and social equity. Our Financial Permaculture strategy, which is led by Jennifer Dauksha English and draws in experts Catherine Austin Fitts, Franklin Sanders, Phil Cubeta, Carolyn Betts, Bob Waldorp, John Cloud, Jason Gonsky, David Blume, Luke Staengle, Andy Langford, and Liora Adler, is a well-considered response to the haphazard environmental, economic, and political of over-reliance on cheap energy, overshoot of the human population, and the tropism towards excess that seems to be a hallmark of homo sapiens neurobiology. It is being offered in various forms and various countries.

We are in a crisis in the evolution of human society. It’s unique to both human and geologic history. It has never happened before and it can’t possibly happen again. You can only use oil once. You can only use metals once. Soon all the oil is going to be burned and all the metals mined and scattered.

M. King Hubbert, 1983

Book CoverThe Financial Collapse Survival Guide and Cookbook: Recipes for Changing Times

by Albert K. Bates

now available in Kindle from

Institute program areas over the past decades have included research into food and energy applied sciences towards the end of improving food security and reducing climate-altering dependence upon fossil fuels; using improved communications methodologies for demonstrations of alternative economic and social experiments; and multidisciplinary research into mechanisms for narrowing the gap between the developed and developing world without undue negative cultural and environmental impacts.
Hand-pedal BicycleFrom our crafting of a trike for an orphan of the 1974 earthquake in San Andrés Itzapa Guatemala has now come Asociación Maya Pedal, building pedal-powered machines, or bicimáquinas.
Our focus is on a convergence of renewable energy, environmental building, sustainable agriculture, biological wastewater systems, community conflict resolution methodologies, holistic community planning, permaculture design, experiential education, natural capital economics, ready access to global information, and a host of emerging modalities for systemic social improvements. We have received numerous awards and frequent recognition for this work, which has always been at the leading edge of systemic social change, but we continue to rely principally on grassroots support in the form of donations to pursue these efforts.

Working in Fundraising? Take a look at our project proposal and reports for Womens Training in Sustainable Community Development in Ecuador

The Institute's principal work in the late 1970s related to the transportation sector. Working under a series of contracts with the U.S. Department of Energy, The Institute performed groundbreaking work on concentrating photovoltaic arrays, low cost, long-distance electric and hybrid vehicles, and multi-fuel heat engines. This work led to the inception of the Solar Car Corporation of Melbourne, Florida and Groton Connecticut. SCC went out of business in the late 1990s, a victim, like the Tucker, of being too far ahead of its time. With a capitalization of less than $10 million, SCC lacked the financial ability to combat the conjoined forces of industry and government which quickly arrayed against it, despite a vastly superior product that correctly foresaw fundamental shifts in transportation demands. 
A lasting contribution which the Institute made to our transportation future was to take the science of "hypercars" and place it firmly into the public domain. The Institute did this by parading its solar-powered automobile daily through the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee, and by publishing its technological innovations in the open literature. Later attempts to patent and sequester the key technologies of solar-powered cars were defeated as a result of this contribution. 
As of 2006, we have been participating in the emerging Sail Transport Network, returning coastal trade to wind-power with shipments of cacao, cassava starch, coffee and vanilla bean. Have a boat you want to donate? Contact us!
While we are fully cognizant of peak oil and the economic collapse that is unfolding, the Institute's principal work today is in the climate change sector. Working under a series of contracts with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and others, the Institute is performing groundbreaking work on rural development retasking, changing the focus ...
... FROM industrial agriculture that is designed to produce the fastest, cheapest, low value-added, and least nutritious food the world has ever known, and all of the health effects that implies
...TO creating health human ecologies that generate surplus food, fuel, and value-added products while storing both labile and recalcitrant carbon in the soil, mitigating the runaway greenhouse effects now in the pipeline, and preserving and protecting the broad-spectrum speciation that is the intellect of Gaia.
We are accomplishing these mission targets by serving as a active policy development resource and training center, and an experimental laboratory for the Transition Towns, Permaculture, Ecovillage, Bioregional, Reforestation and Biochar networks.
You can help.
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and GVI President Albert Bates
at the International Biochar Initiative Conference in Boulder, Colorado in September, 2009.

 Other applications coming our of the solar car research included 1 kw solar (dish) Stirling and rotary turbines; direct current-powered compact air conditioning; solar powered electric watercraft; and trough concentrator arrays for solar water heating. 
What is new today is a merging of all these disparate threads into a holistic vision for the future.

How fast do bacteria replicate in presence of food? Every 20 minutes. One bacterium in 72 hours with infinite food supply would weigh more than the planet Earth. What stops that from happening? The absense of food. What will stop the human population from overrunning the planet? The absense of food. We are poised at the cusp of a Malthusian correction.

Our goal is to develop and disseminate a method of agriculture that supplies our food in an ethical way, which also means being a positive force in the climate equation, building healthy future soils and promoting biodiversity. We want to heal the planet from the abuses of our careless predecessors.

When some part of a growing plant dies, it drops material high in protein, which is food for the soil decomposers. That food becomes bacterial and fungal biomass. The N is tied up. The C is tied up. Bacterial and fungal bodies are eaten by nematodes and microarthropods which release the nitrates (soluable) and ammonium (gas) fertilizers in their wastes. If you can fix those nutrient flows you can eliminate the need for fertilizer. Healthy organic soil systems do this, and can more than double yields in the first growing season they are applied.

Mother Nature takes soluable nutrients and changes them into biomass. Biological processes decompose the biomass and use metabolic wastes to make soluable nutrients to fuel the next round of the cycle. Humans are Gaia's tool for taking plant waste — free oxygen — and turning it into plant food — CO2. In a healthy system, it all goes around, is not shuffled off to form toxic burdens on the atmosphere or ocean, but merely replenishes its own needs.

This is not rocket science.

With the Peoples Republic of China we have been exploring a legal system of standards for ecovillage design.

It is an inconvenient truth that all proposals or efforts to slow global warming or to move toward sustainability are serious intellectual frauds if they do not advocate reducing populations to sustainable levels at the local, national and global scales.


Albert Allen Bartlett, Professor Emeritus of Physics, University of Colorado

The USA and China are like two drinking buddies staying at the bar until closing time. They will drain every last drop of petroleum (and other natural resources) that they can get their hands on. What happens next is not even remotely on their minds. Everything they are doing is for the sake of keeping the binge going.

All Bamboo House


Did you know that the urban habitat crisis could be solved by allowing people to grow their own houses?

In the 1970s the Institute began research into fast growing plant species that could serve multiple purposes even while providing residential building materials for an expanding world population. Our experimental hybrid poplar and chestnut plantations are now more than 20 years old. Our tree varieties, including Tennessee's own state tree, the Tulip Poplar are able to process wastewater and reclaim severely eroded landscapes. Today we have more than 20 varieties of temperate bamboo growing at our Ecovillage Training Center, and more than 200 varieties under study at the nearby Earth Advocates Research Center for size, growth rates, temperature tolerance and other characteristics. We like bamboo as a cultivatible architecture. Only 500 square meters are needed to grow one house in one year, about the size of a typical U.S. living room. 

Biochar from bamboo has a unique pore structure, making it a perfect soil structure for beneficial aerobic bacteria and fungi, resulting in crop yield gains of as much as 800-percent. It is important to mix the biochar with well-prepared compost inoculated with bacteria from undisturbed (usually nearby forest) local soils.

Bamboo JoineryTo provide owner-built homes for the 100,000,000 people now without adequate housing, the area needed to grow bamboo for one year is less than the area annually being clearcut in the Caribbean rainforests of Belize, Honduras and Colombia each year!

Biochar from Bamboo

Biochar and organic no-till methods mimic natural ecosystems by helping to close the nutrient cycle. Biochar serves as a "coral reef" in the soil, harboring microbial and fungal communities and storing nutrients and moisture for controlled release. Coupling biochar production with winter hoophouses make its production very economical, especially if the feedstocks are harvested from "waste" products (local sawmill byproducts, oilseed husks and bagasse) or annual non-food yields (bamboo, leaves, wetland reeds and hyacinths).
Improving soil fertility inexpensively will enable farmers to once again produce the food consumed by a local population without fossil-fuel based inputs. As we have seen for the past four centuries, conversion of natural vegetation to cropland reduces soil carbon content by one-half to one-third. However, soil carbon loss can be reversed by agricultural practices that build up the carbon in soils by, for example, reducing the period of bare fallow, planting cover crops, and changing aeration of the soil (such as by no till, ridge till, or keyline planting). Adding biochar to this mix of strategies provides the potential to take the planet from 386 ppmv CO2 to 350, or even 250 ppmv, on timescales short enough to prevent catastrophic tipping points from exterminating life on Earth.

Bambitat, a GVI sponsored organization, is developing unique strategies for lightweight, fast growing bamboo habitats.

solar soy dairy In 1983 The Institute financed the creation of a food sciences laboratory which, in cooperation with the USDA, experimented with a number of soyfoods and other ecologically secure ways of feeding the world. In 1985, the food science laboratory was transferred to a community business, the Tempeh Lab, which today is one of the world's largest suppliers of soy fermentation inoculants.
shiitake In the mid-1980s The Institute also created a forest research program to identify ways to give standing forests greater commercial value than saw timber and residential subdevelopments. That effort created another commercial enterprise for the local community, Mushroompeople, which is one of the nation's largest mail order suppliers of specialty mushroom spawn and growing supplies.
We continue our work in food science research, producing a widening variety of tasty, nutritious and dietetic new foods from enzymatic cultures retrieved from distant corners of the Earth. Coming to a store or soup kitchen near you soon may be some of our latest all-organic dairy- and meat- analogs from soy, hemp and other high protein sources. Look for our Ecovillage label.

Throughout its history, it has been a goal of the Institute to serve as a living laboratory for developing, incubating, and showcasing new technologies. The Institute provides the scientific and technical expertise that advances new ideas from paper to practice, and builds and tests prototypes in the real world, in combination with other technologies which affect overall performance. Once an idea is proven to work, the Institute takes it to the stage of commercial viability. 
solar arrayToday, the Institute's principal work relates to the creation of a prototype Ecovillage Training Center which offers courses and immersion apprenticeships in permaculture, agriforestry, soyfoods, solar cars, constructed wetlands, biomimetic engineering, natural capital restoration, alternate energy, ecological building, conflict resolution, consensus and community, midwifery, natural nutrition, alternative medicine, healing touch, and many other promising paths to environmental sustainability. 
... more resilient and self-regenerative communities
in harmony with the natural environment. 
Plenty's Kids to the Country Program at the Ecovillage Training Center is now in its 16th year in bringing underprivileged children from low income housing and homeless shelters to a summer vacation of horses, hikes and swimming holes. 

Consulting with schools such as Witts University (Johannesburg), Cal Poly Pomona and Berea College (Kentucky), we are designing new "green campus" population centers to steer universities into the transition to sustainability.

The Institute sponsors the Western Hemisphere hub office of the Global Ecovillage Network, guided the formation of the Ecovillage Network of the Americas, and is engaging in many other efforts to foster the expansion of the sustainable community movement worldwide. The Institute's program partners include the Sarvodaya movement in Sri Lanka, Seoul National University's Sustainable Urban Development program in Korea, Sortavala in Russia, the Green Kibbutz Movement in Israel, Los Angeles EcoVillage, The Tholego Development Project in South Africa, Luna Nueva in Mexico, the Institute for Latin American Permaculture in Bolivia, Columbia, Venezuela and Peru, Reserva Sasardi, the Institute for New Frontiers in Cooperation, Builders without Borders, the United Nations Best Practices program (ECOSOC), Context Institute, Plenty International, Permaculture Institute of Peru, Grupo de Apoyo al Sector Rural, Aztlan Centro De Rescate Ecologico, Ecoaldea en Huehuecoyotl, Asociacion Gaia, Ecovillage Network of Canada, Comunidade Tribal Vale Encantado and ABRASCA (Brazil), the emerging ecovillage communities in Unguia and the Sasardi Reserve in Colombia, the Permaculture Institute of Brazil, Fundacion Darien, 7 Generaciones (Uruguay), La Caravana Arcoiris para la Paz, and many more. Global Village Video is a subsidiary production company which produces instructional tapes and dvds on a variety of subjects. 

Since 1994, we have been weaving together the emerging ecovillage movement, which we view as having the potential to bring about lasting change by seeking, as a central organizing principle, a harmonious balance between human habitat and the natural world. 

Ecovillages are where the low- and medium-tech experiments of the past half-century merge into integrated human communities, at peace with their cultural and bioregional context, and proactively responsive to the profound agricultural, climatological and social challenges of the coming century.

We offer instruction which includes both the technical transfer side of appropriate technology (how-to and hands-on) and the "invisible landscape" of community–the nuts and bolts of creating consensus and nurturing community social health and conviviality, distributing decisionmaking, and creating culturally-protective economic opportunities. We work in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese, with further translation to indigenous languages as needed. Our primary goal is to train trainers who will carry on the work in our absence, and to empower these promoters with the tools they need to network with their peers. We support diverse cross-cultural networks of environmental interests.

Donate Now

Donations to the Institute are tax-deductible. In FY 2006, the Institute raised and spent approximately $240,000. 
Its state and federal tax filings and a full disclosure of its financial records are available on line.

Consider a Bequest

Many of us choose to give to charity on a regular basis or to leave a bequest of money or property as a final gift. These kindnesses merge to create power for good in the world. If you would like to consider such a gifting, please examine a paragraph suitable to insert into your testimentary bequests. US residents can now make unlimited charitable contributions from their IRAs and 401(k) plans. The possibility that there will a $1 million estate-tax exemption, plus a higher tax rate, in two years makes a compelling case for spreading wealth around now.

I would like to make a donation by fax or mail.
All donations are put to effective and efficient use.

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Institute for Appropriate Technology
PO Box 90
Summertown TN 38483
email: ecovillage at
Indigenous Peoples 

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It shall be the policy of this organization that no discrimination shall exist toward any person, employee, member, or guest in any program, privilege, activity or facility of this organization on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, physical handicap, or national or ethnic origin.

 — Article Six of our charter, November, 1974.

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| Global Ecovillage Network