Aprovecho is a non-profit organization located on a beautiful forty-acre land trust outside of Cottage Grove, Oregon. Aprovecho, which means “I make best use of” in Spanish, gained its name from the spirit of a sustainable approach to resource use in the creation and sustenance of human culture that the early founders observed in their international development work. In 1981, this group founded an organization dedicated to the investigation of sustainable human settlement in North America, and found their place in the foothills of the Coast Range of Oregon. Today, Aprovecho’s land and its community of educators is a regional resource for researching, demonstrating, and educating the techniques and strategies of sustainable living.
Aprovecho’s mission is “Living, Learning, Organizing, and Educating to Inspire a Sustainable Culture.” Thirty years after its founding, the center serves as an inspiration for the hundreds of students, visitors, and volunteers that make use of its facilities. Aprovecho offers many different opportunities for engagement, from the yearly publication of its “New from Aprovecho” newsletter, to monthly open house tours, weekend workshops, overnight trips for youth, and residential programs in Permaculture and Natural Building.
The campus itself is a dynamic and beautiful place filled with examples of practical applications of sustainable living techniques. The sustainable forestry program provides 90% of the wood in our buildings, and provides wood for heat and cooking uses while maintaining a healthy and diverse standing forest. The gardens and orchards provide much of the fresh food eaten by the residents and program participants. The buildings themselves provide examples of natural and energy-efficient building techniques, including passive solar design, alternative insulation and finishing materials like strawbale, light straw clay, and earthen plasters, living roofs, and much more, The campus also features several water-harvesting features, including ponds, swales, and a 10,000 gallon ferrocement rainwater tank. Aprovecho is also pioneering a successful temperate climate aquaponics system, which currently produces tilapia and a diversity of edible fruits and vegetables year-round.
Aprovecho is also a residential community, with permanent on-site residents and seasonal staff positions. Many people in the Cottage Grove community have settled in the area after coming to Aprovecho, weaving together with the thriving rural small town atmosphere that Cottage Grove offers. The organization plays an integral role with the surrounding Cottage Grove and South Willamette Valley community as well, and has relationships with local elementary and high schools, the University of Oregon, Oregon State University, Cottage Grove Habitat for Humanity, the Oddfellows, and the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde.
Aprovecho is a dynamic and exciting place, with many more developments planned as we continue the development of the campus and increase our ties to the local community. Please feel free to attend one of our tours, workshops, or longer courses to learn more about our offerings. We hope you leave inspired to continue the development of a sustainable culture.