Taking care of our communities means taking care of our environment. Our strong sense of place at the Rolling Ridge Conservancy and our commitment to the wellbeing of future generations drives our programming around environmental stewardship. At the China Folk House, we teach innovative and sustainable building practices and give students an opportunity to form a unique bond with the natural environment through our garden programs.
Sustainable Building Practices
At the China Folk House Retreat, we preserve the traditional timber framing practices from Southwest Yunnan and promote sustainable building through our use of hempcrete. The sustainable building material that has practically gained a cult following amongst the CFHR community is a mixture of hemp, lime, and clay. We use hempcrete because it is plant-based, captures carbon from the atmosphere, and provides increased energy performance throughout the year. We love hempcrete a record-breaking amount: our Folk House boasts the largest hempcrete wall in North America (over 5,208 feet!)
Hemp yeah! Hempcrete in action
We are developing a hugulkultur vegetable garden, an ethnobotanical garden, and a Chinese landscape garden. Our garden projects give our community members a chance to connect with the natural world and gain sustainable agriculture skills. The vegetable garden will functionally demonstrate Chinese organic vegetable gardening in an intensive intercropped style. The ethnobotany garden will showcase the history of medicinal and ornamental plants gathered by the “plant hunters” in Southwest China in the 19th and early 20th century. Elsewhere potted specimens will show the aesthetic traditions of courtyard cultivation. Outside the courtyard, an adjacent pond is being redeveloped as an aesthetic site in keeping with Chinese garden ideals. The gardens at the China Folk House Retreat will serve as a critical teaching tool for lessons in ethnobotany, agriculture, food and healing. It will also allow us to teach about the history of agricultural change in China, and the evolving trends which have, for the most part, undermined their organic traditions.