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New Alchemy Institute

I first heard about the New Alchemy Institute while learning more about one my all-time my ‘eco-heros’, Dr. John Todd (Ocean Arks International). Dr Todd and his wife Nancy (along with William McLarney) founded the institute in 1969 on a 12 acre former dairy farm in Cape Cod (source: Wikipedia). Their goal was to “do research on behalf of the planet”. They explored organic agriculture, aquaculture, ‘bioshelters’ and waste management – all with a primary focus on sustainability.

As fascinating as the research sounded, I’ve never really read all that much about it – and had no idea, until very recently, that there are quite a few New Alchemy publications available online. Not too long ago I was trying to track down information relating to harnessing the heat energy from (thermophilic) composting, when I came across a website dedicated to the New Alchemy Institute. The site was put together by ‘The Green Center Inc‘. From their website:

The Green Center Inc., is a non-profit educational institute that evolved from the New Alchemy Institute. Green Center is the custodian and distributor of publications of New Alchemy’s ecological research conducted from 1971 to 1991.

The Green Center’s New Alchemy site is a fantastic resource if you are interested in this sort of stuff. Here are a few titles of the publications they have available for free in PDF format:
“A Study of the Energy Efficiency of Intensive Vegetable Production”
“An Integrated Fish Culture Hydroponic Vegetable Production System”
“The Composting Greenhouse at New Alchemy Institute: A Report on Two Years of Operation and Monitoring”

Apart from all the great free info, you can also order New Alchemy publications from the website as well. I highly recommend you check it out!

For a bit more of an overview of the New Alchemy’s purpose, here is an exerpt from the Green Center website (originally found in the Bulletin of the New Alchemists, Fall 1970)

“Among our major tasks is the creation of ecologically derived human support systems – renewable energy, agriculture aquaculture, housing and landscapes. The strategies we research emphasize a minimal reliance on fossil fuels and operate on a scale accessible to individuals, families and small groups. It is our belief that ecological and social transformations must take place at the lowest functional levels of society if humankind is to direct its course towards a greener, saner world.”

“Our programs are geared to produce not riches, but rich and stable lives, independent of world fashion and the vagaries of international economics. The New Alchemists work at the lowest functional level of society on the premise that society, like the planet itself, can be no healthier than the components of which it is constructed. The urgency of our efforts is based on our belief that the industrial societies which now dominate the world are in the process of destroying it.”

[tags]new alchemy institute, organic agriculture, living machines, composting, greenhouse, green house, sustainable agriculture, aquaponics, aquaculture, food production, bioshelter, dr. john todd, ocean arks[/tags]

Written by Compost Guy on April 14th, 2008 with no comments.
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