Founder Acharya His Divine Grace
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

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The Eco Teaching Farm at New Raman Reti in Alachua Celebrated its 6th Annual Earth Day Eco Festival
By Thomas Haribol, ISKCON News Managing Editor   |  Apr 29, 2023
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Eco-Farm director Akuti Dasi makes fresh mozzarella cheese for guests.

On Saturday, April 22nd, the Eco Teaching Farm at New Raman Reti in Alachua, FL, celebrated its sixth annual Earth Day Eco Festival. Established in 2017, the Eco Teaching Farm’s mission is to develop, through hands-on learning opportunities, a fully functional and dynamic, self-sustaining, ecologically sound farm project. The Festival is a beautiful way to showcase that aim for devotees and the public.

“We invite people to witness and experience the simple means of fulfilling the essential living necessities: shelter, food, and clothing,” said Akuti Dasi, one of the festival organizers. She continued, “Srila Prabhupada’s dream was to develop these cottage industries on our farms. The Festival offers attendees a variety of engaging workshops where the guests can learn building technologies, the growing processes and tools appropriate to our area’s climate and natural resources, passive solar architecture, and permaculture gardens.” 

An annual favorite is the mozzarella cheese demonstration made from fresh cow milk. This workshop is also a fitting opportunity to teach about cow protection. At the center of the Eco Teaching Farm is a beautiful barn for the cows and oxen. Other hands-on experiences included paper making, banana fiber weaving session, and a primer for making natural dyes. 

Mukhya Devi Dasi demonstrates how to make infused medicinal herb oils.

The beautiful grounds allowed guests to explore the wonderful world of edible and medicinal plants that can be found in one’s own backyard. Karen Sherwood, a local naturalist from Gainesville, led two herb walks during the event. There was also a “feets on” workshop for making cob walls from local dirt, clay, straw, and cow dung. “We have added demonstrations of making infused medicinal herb oils, incense making, and the ginning and spinning of our own cotton,” said Akuti.

In addition to the devotee-led workshops, local artists brought items to sell or share. Dr. Ann Wilkie, a research professor of Bioenergy and Sustainable Technology at the University of Florida, explained the benefits of a biogas digester that they use on the Farm and encouraged others to build their own. 

Alex Ojeda, one of Florida’s top permaculture experts and a leader in Jaksonville’s permaculture movement, was on hand to talk about biodiversity in home gardens and answer questions from aspiring and mature gardeners alike. 

All this activity certainly created an appetite for festival-goers, and the food booth options were plentiful. “We let everyone experience the wonderful taste of fresh chapatis cooked on our village “chulas” fueled by our cow dung patties,” said Akuti, “and local devotee musicians filled the air with transcendental sound.”  

Organizers plan to have a new arts and crafts building by next year to accommodate the most well-attended classes better. For more information about the Eco Teaching Farm, you can visit their Facebook page.

Click here for additional photos from the event,  here to watch a video of some of the day’s festivities, and here for a wonderful video of interviews at the event.

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