The bed and breakfast at Artha Sustainable Living Center doesn’t just offer travelers a guilt-free vacation (with solar power and heat, organic amenities, and chemical-free food) – it teaches its guests how to take those eco-practices home with them.
Artha is in central Wisconsin, outside of Amherst and about an hour and a half west of Green Bay. Chamomile Nusz is Artha’s program and marketing director and the daughter of its owners, Bob and Marguerite Ramlow. “Artha, in one form or another, has been around for 37 years,” Chamomile explains, “and we opened the bed and breakfast in 2007.” Many of their guests come first to learn, then to relax.
The green-curious can sign up for workshops and retreats year round on renewable energy, organic gardening, and yoga. For example, next month, Artha will host “Planning and planting your vegetable garden” (May 10, 9am-4pm, $65), “Solar water heating installation lab” (May 12-14, 8am-4 pm, through the Midwest Renewable Energy Center), and “Standing Poses and Backbends” (May 31, 1-4pm, $35).
“Our biggest eco-effort is education,” says Chamomile. “We try to teach by example and reach out to people all over the U.S.” Beyond the on-site workshops, Artha also acts as a solar consultant, designing systems for home and business owners without local solar providers in their areas. The center has definitely proven that those who can, teach.
Artha’s 4-kilowatt photovoltaic system provides the B&B and the on-site office with 75 to 85 percent of their energy needs. Solar thermal collectors – 800 square feet of them – heat the facilities’ water, 85 percent of the office space, and 25 percent of the B&B space (efficient wood stoves make up the difference). In the future, Chamomile says they will install fan convector radiators to increase the amount of solar-heat they get in the B&B.
They put similar forethought into their guest accommodations. The B&B was renovated with wood from their own 90-acre property and from the sustainable forests of the local Menomonee Indian Tribe. The linens are organic cotton, as is the produce served up straight from their garden. Non-VOC paint and energy- and water-efficient appliances are without.
Come back tomorrow for Artha’s rates and Chamomile’s suggestions on prime times to visit.
Photos courtesy of www.arthaonline.com