The best time to come is for our Open House the first Sunday of the month (March-November) at 2:00 pm.
Take Exit 174 off of I-5 (approximately 20 miles south of Eugene). Go west off I-5 towards Cottage Grove. Follow traffic, bearing left onto Hwy 99.
Turnright at the second stoplight (Main Street), and go through the heart of Cottage Grove and west out of town.
Main St automatically turns intoCG-Lorane Road. Watch your mile markers...
Turn right on Hazelton Rd immediately before mile marker 5.
Go to end of pavement (1/2 mile), then follow signs to Aprovecho down another 1/2 mile of gravel drive (the one to the right).
by Meera Subramanian
There's a place nestled in the foothills of the Cascade Range in western Oregon where people have been coming together for over twenty years to work towards a sustainable future. They are living at a place called Aprovecho Research Center. "Aprovecho" is a Spanish word meaning, "I make best use of." Eight on-site staff study and teach the elements of one approach to a more eco-centered lifestyle: sustainable forestry, organic gardening, and appropriate technology. Up to fourteen interns study with the staff, sharing a life based on voluntary simplicity. The 40 acres of land were put into trust so that it could not be sold but would remain a research center in perpetuity.
Aprovecho was started back in 1976 by folks visiting Guatemala City after a devastating earthquake. They banded together to try to help, making simple tools useful in "third world" situations. This band of travelers eventually ended up working all over the world, in more than 60 countries, inventing and teaching about appropriate technology like fuel-efficient woodstoves, cisterns, solar cookers, windmills, etc. In 1981, the group (now the non-profit organization known as Aprovecho) bought some land in the Willamette Valley, 30 miles south of Eugene, and created a research center, dedicated to researching and disseminating information on appropriate and alternative technologies for simple living.
Today the center bustles with activity. As I walk around, I meet the Appropriate Technology Project Team building a new version of the Justa stove being developed for Honduras and watch as they test its efficiency using thermometers, scales, calculators and equations. Matthew the forester is bucking trees to length so the horse logger can pull them out of the 20-acre sustainable forest. Desta, our on-site botanist and gardener, leads a group of interns through the five acres of open land that encompass our gardens, orchards, buildings, animal pens and meadow, teaching them the names and uses of the edible and medicinal (and poisonous!) plants that grow around us everyday. Meanwhile, Pam's working on coordinating the the building of our new community building, and a pileated woodpecker's cry emanates from the forest. It's peaceful and green.
About five years ago we built an experimental straw bale dormitory to house the interns and serve as our community building. The straw is being monitored by the University of Oregon to determine the viability of using straw as insulation in this wet, cool climate. Likewise, two local utility companies are monitoring the 2.2 kilowatt photovoltaic system (donated by Enron) mounted on the roof of the dorm to see if it's a viable power source considering our long, cloudy winters. Most staff live on-site at Aprovecho as we construct new cabins as part of the developing campus.
We welcome visitors! The best time to come is for our Open House the first Sunday of the month (March-November) at 2:00 pm. But if you can't make it then, call us and we'll arrange something else. The Center also has booklets that describe devices invented, tested and proven in service. The internship program runs for ten weeks and is packed with info for ecologists of any persuasion. You can contact us for more information at:
Aprovecho Research Center
80574 Hazelton Road
Cottage Grove, OR 97424-8521 USA