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Emerald Earth
Boonville, CA

There are 8 adult residents, 4 couples, and each couple has one child.

They have been established for 21 years


They live on 189 acres. It is an entire cross-section of a small watershed, from ridge top to ridge top. A seasonal creek runs East to West through the middle. The North-facing slopes are mostly recovering redwood and tan oak forest, much of it very steep. The South-facing slopes are mixed oak/Douglas fir/poison oak woodland with large grassy meadows.


Social Dynamics:

The adults are in their Early 30s-mid 40s. and there are two-year-olds and 2 8 yr. old children. 

The residents truly trust and depend on one another. And A few had jobs off the property. Such as collecting and selling wild mushrooms and seaweed for local restaurants, growing mushrooms, one woman is an occupational therapist.


Each family has their own home. But the whole community spends most of their waking hours together. They eat lunch and dinner together every day. Lunch is usually leftovers from previous dinners. Then they make a delicious, fresh new dinner for the evening. The adults evenly rotate preparing the meals. They commonly shared responsibilities like tending the garden, caring for the children and the animals, repairing and building on the property. And they have frequent interaction in the daytime.


There are only 8 adults managing a working farm, with two 2 yr. old running around. A couple broke up and they both moved out and two single men fell in love with people who didn’t want to live in such a remote location.



In the 90s, Michael G. Smith made Emerald Earth become world renowned for his innovative natural buildings. If you are interested in natural building this the Michael G Smith is the name you need to know!

In the 12 years he lived there, he designed and helped to construct fifteen natural buildings ranging in size from composting outhouses to a 3,000 s.f. community center.

Every structure on the property was handmade from the clay, wood, straw from the land and recycled materials.


99% solar power. Diesel generator for rare rainy days. All houses throughout the property connected to one main solar power station.


Waster Management:

This community has made a commitment to zero waste. They use only composting toilets.

They only purchase recyclable items and they compost and recycle everything. 



Residents eat 95% out of their garden. They are growing several varieties of all commonly known western vegetables. They also have several blooming apple and pear trees. They trade and purchase from local, organic growers for nuts and cheese. The food was so rich with vibrant vegetables, fruits and fresh milk. Please believe us when we say you have not tasted food until you have tasted food this fresh.


We also ate all sort of fermented vegetables. Beets, cabbage, carrots, etc. We want to note that at every village we visited offered and consumed lots of fermented veggies at every meal. And for good reason, the sour and sweet taste delicious with about everything you eat and they provide high quality probiotics, enzymes, vitamins and minerals


Animal Husbandry:

They had two dairy cows, a calf, and a bull, 70 chickens, and 2 pigs they provide milk, protein, and manure.

And they had 2 friendly kitties that provide friendship and they are natural pesticide.


Art & Music:

Art is incorporated into infrastructure all of their buildings. 

There is a blessing song before every meal thanking all of nature. They do this so the little children can participate in the prayer. Dancing anad drumming are common for their celebrations. In fact, this land was originally purchased to be a meditative retreat for a group of drummers and dancers. According to the residents, the drumming and dancing slowed down significantly when the children were born and when some of the residents left.


Health and Wellbeing:

All the residents appeared extremely healthy. Of those I asked none had gone to any doctors in years. 

They all practiced homeopathy and used herbal remedies when they had colds. Lots of physical work to keep all the residents fit.

Health and Wellbeing:

The residents are invigorated by living in harmony with nature. They all got very emotional when they spoke of their closeness with the earth and helping to it. But the lack of help overworked and expressed a longing to play more.


Conflict Resolution:

There goal in their charter is to peacefully and productively resolve conflicts.But we found the newest residents did not feel comfortable expressing their discontent. There was a weird scenario going on that the newer residents feel inferior because they don’t have the experience or knowledge of the longtime residents. And the longtime residents seem slightly irritated that the newer residents are not able to evenly pick up the slack because they lack the experience and knowledge. No one is at fault, they just need better communication and more help. We think having a specific trainer who can give the newer residents and volunteers the knowledge they need without slowing down the progress of the daily routines would relieve this burden.



The children are very knowledgable about nature. They help care for the animals and tend the garden. They also help to repair the buildings and to create art and decorations.


The two 8 yr. olds, a boy and girl are just now beginning to go once a week to a Waldorf tutoring program. The parents noticed that neither of the children has any desire to read and as the years went by, the harder it became to get the children to read. 



The most spectacular highlight for us at Emerald Earth was that they are close to 100% sustainable. The houses they created built are just stunning and so functional. They truly respect all life and acknowledge the interconnectedness of us all. It was amazing to see that this is possible and people are healthy and for the most part happy.


This is is an altar they created to welcome the rains.


New Things Considered:

Clear, comforting communication with new members is key to keeping them. There is no replacement for this. If members do not feel comfortable, they are not going to give quality work or they going to leave all together.


Purposely including fun and recreation into daily routines is a necessity. This is was the biggest contrast between the other villages we visited is that Emerald Earth included so little fun into their lives. The other villages had music pumping on the stereos, they had recreation areas for adults and children to play and run around in. Fun keeps people happy and content and happy. 

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