Harmonia is an educational center, nature reserve and future residence promoting and demonstrating ecological, social, economic, and cultural sustainability. Educational programs, agriculture, small businesses, lodging, mountain biking, camping, events, and community volunteer programs will be incorporated to the ultimate design and use of the property. The initial land is 260 acres of hills, jungle, untouched forest, 18 acres of cacao trees, and pasture (with 2.7 acres on Lake Nicaragua), with hope of expanding to 1,000 acres in the near future.
How it will look in the future is a collaboration of the imaginations, aspirations and creativity of those who are called to be part of this tribe. Art will be the focus, with aesthetics incorporating ancient wisdom and traditions, altars, gemstones and minerals, fossils, and natural and cultural ephemera into the walls, paths, classrooms, and temples throughout the property. The landscape will remain fluid, a never-ending creation of beauty.
Low-impact, sustainable materials, including bamboo, earth bags, compressed earth bricks and adobe, will be used for the majority of the structures. Outdoor walls will incorporate recycled wine bottles as the fill. Walls, floors and walkways may contain recycled plastic bottles filled with recycled plastic and sand as the structure. Each structure is a sacred gift from the earth, which will be represented in the colors and decorative touches.
Some structures may not survive the elements. Bearing witness to the failures (especially with adobe in a wet climate) is an important teaching tool, too.
Water retention is the most important aspect of the development of the land. Using swales, berms and cisterns to collect the rain water, we can feed the aquifer rather than allowing the water to escape into the lake. Over a period of time, the landscape will become more evergreen in the dry season, with moisture from the trees changing the microclimate ever so slightly. There is a spring on top of the hill that we will use to gravity feed, supplementing wells. The natural flow of the water downhill will not be disturbed. The development of the water system over such a large property is one of the largest and the most important infrastructure expense. Clean water is our birthright. Harmonia will utilize an assortment of filtration methods to ensure that water is drinkable from every tap on the property. Gray water will be recycled to feed the gardens. Only non-phosphate, natural soaps, shampoos, detergents and cleaners may be used within the property.
Aside from the cost savings, the primary importance of procuring a dozer as opposed to renting one is the control of the machinery in the woods that are filled with monkeys, endangered birds (some of which do not appear to have ever been catalogued) and a wild assortment of other lifeforms. The monkeys are not big fans of technology. We can have some control over which areas we work with depending upon where the animals are situated at different times of the days. We want to make the building process as least disruptive as possible for the wildlife. It is a big property, though, and will require several kilometers of roads. One reason that we want to procure the two adjacent roadside parcels is to make the road easier to pass up the mountain.
We will have fire lines cut throughout the property to prevent a wildfire, usually caused by farmers eager to burn their fields before planting before the wind stops.
No significant trees will be cut. Scrub trees will be replaced with hardwoods and fruit and nut trees. The lakeside portion will include more trees along the shoreline to protect the area from the winds, which can be heavy November through February.
Ideally we would bury the electric lines underground, but that requires a serious donor. We will have likely two kilometers of electric wires to the downtown village area. We will use solar and wind, but they have limitations in the rainy season and the wind on this part of the lake isn’t constant. Also, there is an issue of batteries, which tend to have shorter lifespan here. We will have solar and wind to supplement the electric, much of which is supplied from a wind farm 20 kilometers away on the shore of Lake Nicaragua. With a school this size, we cannot rely only on solar and wind as the sole source of power. We hope that the right engineer comes in and can help us solve that!