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Earthlands’ 47.8-acre property up for sale

PETERSHAM — Lucius Spooner is looking for an “educational, Spiritual or Earth-Centered organization or collective” to buy Earthlands.

Well, actually, it’s the real-life creator of the historical character Spooner, a 19th-century agrarian teacher often portrayed by outdoor educator Larry Buell, who’s seeking a buyer for the 47.8-acre property and lodge of the nonprofit Institute for Environmental Awareness.

The asking price is $440,000, and the ideal buyer, according to the Earthlands website, “will participate in the new paradigm of shifting consciousness evolving on Planet Earth and will put part of the property into a land trust to be enjoyed, sustained and preserved in perpetuity.”

The property, part of the 500 acres that Buell’s parents bought in the 1960s, was used for Greenfield Community College’s outdoor leadership programs in the 1980s. The property includes the 12-room main lodge built in 1987, with an off-grid photovoltaic system, two retreat cabins and a wood-heated sauna, along with 16 acres of open field and meadow and even a “medicine circle and labyrinth.”

Buell, who retired in 2004 as the director of GCC’s outdoor leadership program, created Earthlands in 1993 as an “Earth-based education facility and retreat center,” and now at 70 he said he intends to remain as “senior adviser.”

“My skills are more in leadership and visioning,” he said. “I realize it’s time to pass this on to another group that’s enthusiastic, with the skills and ability to take Earthlands to the next level.”

That includes working with the land trust that Buell sees as taking control of the surrounding 115 acres. The organization that takes control of the lodge and 48 acres will have right of first refusal for the remaining property as well.

The entire Earthlands property would continue to be used for educational programs run by University of the Wild, which along with Earthlands was created by the Institute for Environmental Awareness, a nonprofit organization Buell created in 1973. The University of the Wild has been offering “self-directed and mentored” programs there for the University of Massachusetts, GCC and other institutions.

Earthlands would also continue to be rented out for independently run programs, said Buell, who said he hopes to continue to offer storytelling and “personal transformation work.”

The property, which abuts 4,000 protected acres, is part of Nipmuck tribal lands, and Buell is working with the Nipmuck Tribal Council to see that 8,000-year-old underground chambers on the property are preserved and remain used for tribal ceremonies.

Over the years, Earthlands has hosted conferences and retreats for organizations including Greenpeace, Earth Forest Action Network, Northeast Sustainable Energy Association, ForestDance and New Warriors, and it’s offered programs including Mythic Warriors, the Priestess Path, with guests who have included political candidate Jill Stein, West African writer Malidoma Some, “End of Growth” author Richard Heinberg and more.

The Institute for Environmental Awareness hopes to announce a buyer for the property sometime in June.

“I want to get away from day-to-day operations so in next phase I can really do some work,” says Buell, who is working on books about the University of the Wild, outdoor leadership and the history of the Swift River Valley.

On the Web: www.earthlands.org

You can reach Richie Davis at:
rdavis@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 269

oh, brother.............

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