If you’re at all into environmentalism, sustainability, or anything else that falls under the general umbrella of that which is “eco-groovy,” you may have heard of Real Goods. What began as an actual general store for off-grid hippies in the ’70s is now a publicly traded solar installation company.
An adjunct to Real Goods is the Solar Living Institute; a non-profit, 12 acre installation right off Highway 101 in Hopland, CA. The SLI serves as a demonstration and educational site for sustainability and renewable energy, among other things.
If you’re ever driving north on 101 through Hopland, it’s well worth a quick stop to check it out, wander the groovy organic gardens, visit the store, or get a tour by one of the friendly interns.
The SLI also has classes in solar installation, natural building, permaculture, vermiculture, etc. It’s a fantastic resource, and one that was transformed from a dry, dusty lot full of heavy equipment and detritus to a beautiful oasis.
I spent the summer of 2003 as an intern. I lived in a tent, ate awesome organic veggies, broke rock in the hot sun, met some great young people, got a nice tan and lost a lot of weight.
I also learned tons about natural building, which is a fantastic way to build a beautiful and relatively sustainable home. There’s nothing like straw bales and cob to bring a lovely, organic home design to life.
Enjoy these photos, and pay the SLI a visit if you ever have the chance. Don’t forget to take a tour and tip your intern. They’re working for produce. Excellent produce, but produce nonetheless. Oh, and knowledge.