Saturday, April 12, 2008

GA Nature Center

Part of the reason to go camping this past week was that D had seen a reference to the Georgia Nature Center. It looked quite interesting - solar power, carnivorous plants and a "next generation home".

This is the guy who founded the nature preserve, in front of his solar panel array.

He's holding a carnivorous pitcher plant. He cut a dead one open for us so we could see the remains of the bugs it ate last season. cool. I managed to win us a tiny Venus flytrap plant. I hope we can keep it living. M tried to feed it already but the ant managed to escape.

Those 2 solar panels basically power the whole place (along with a small wind turbine that was down for repairs while we were there). They are "off the grid", so I guess if they get a bunch of rainy days they know to cut way back on power consumption.

He showed us his organic garden. They had a really pretty apple tree with light and dark pink blossoms - and red flesh! We didn't get to see the apples this time of year, of course, but D looked them up and WOW. Sometimes the apple flesh is really red!

He asked for some volunteers to "act like a deer". M and one of the high school seniors on the tour with us got picked. The 2 of them ambled towards the garden, and then squirt came the water. M got soaked!

He wanted to go change shirts then, but we were in the middle of the tour and a ways from the car. By the time we got back to the car, he was basically dry again.

Most of the organic garden was currently planted in a cover crop, but at the edge he had a bunch of blueberry bushes just loaded with blooms. And in front of them was some purple asparagus. I'd never seen purple asparagus before. He picked some and offered it for us to try it - yes, raw. It was actually quite good. It tasted a bit like baby pea pods. I wish I had a sunny spot for an asparagus bed!

Next up was the "next generation home". It looks really cool. I didn't get a good photo of it myself, so I borrowed one from their website:

The house is 1000 square feet - the top floor is all glass and the bottom floor is mostly underground - you can see that there are windows into the basement so its not all cave-like down there, though. It has all energy-efficient appliances, propane where applicable. No A/C, instead there is a geothermal earth tube to help heat and cool the house.

We were lucky that our tour group was quite small, so we were able to go inside the house. You couldn't have fit many more than the 15 of us on our tour inside comfortably and still been able to see things.

The kids got a little bored at times, but really overall they were quite interested, as were D and I. We spent about 2.5 hours on the tour and got to see lots of stuff. As usual, I could have spent more time, but it didn't feel too rushed. We all enjoyed the tour.

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