Green Living: Enota Mountain Retreat

Nestled in the woods of North Georgia are 60 acres of sustainable living. Enota Mountain Retreat is a community of visitors and residents for conservation, educational and spiritual purposes, located in the tallest mountains of Georgia. Once sacred Cherokee land, this land is in trust and its residents live in cooperation with nature. Surrounding the Enota community are 750,000 acres of the Chattahoochee National Forest, with the Appalachian Trail within a mile and a half.  Green living? In multiple ways, yes.

Green Living

It remains a singular, pristine set of acres. Now it is in the hands of the Enota community, who is dedicated to keeping it that way. They honor the Native American traditions in combination with contemporary, self-sustaining methods of green living.

Green Living: Enota Mountain RetreatThis land was in the hands of the Cherokees until 1819 when they discovered gold deposits in the ground. The Cherokee Indians never cared about gold so at that point the U.S. government confiscated the land for their use but later sold the land to a family who homesteaded it for 60 years. Then, for 50 years, the property served as a YMCA camp and later as a public campground. Consequently, no grazing or foresting has occurred on this land.

The Community

Enota Mountain Retreat is both a community of residents and visitors. Those who live on the land work the land every day. Part of their mission is also welcoming visitors, people who come to enjoy the beauty of the forest, pond and streams. The community aims to grow by adding individuals and families who will make a physical contribution to the entity. Needed are persons who can farm, maintain livestock, build, who can offer administrative help, expertise on alternative energies or cooking, work in housekeeping or grounds keeping. All talents are welcome within the constraints of community living. Enota Mountain Retreat has been in place for 17 years and functions as a nonprofit.

The Cherokee word enota means the land that nourishes. As such, this land both gives and takes. Enota’s commitment is not to take more from the earth than they can give back.

This means that the residents take seriously their farming practices. They plant orchards, berry bushes and other edibles. They raise chickens, cows, goats, rabbits, ducks and milk the cows and goats daily. Enota also acts as the area’s animal shelter/rescue center. With an abundance of water on the property, they stock their pond with trout. Both residents and visitors can catch their dinner.

A Green Retreat

Steiners (1861–1925) was an Austrian scientist and philosopher who founded the biodynamic approach to agriculture. He later combined this with spirituality and called this combination anthroposophy. Steiners concluded that the world was on a self-destructive path and that the world must make a course correction between the spiritual and physical. Today, this holistic approach has influenced many more fields of interest than just agriculture.

Green Living: Enota Mountain Retreat This property includes a 10-acre biodynamic garden as well as the farm. They grow produce for themselves and sell their surplus produce locally. Their land has never received the use of pesticides, insecticides or other harmful chemicals. Enota follows the principals of biodynamic agriculture as developed by Rudolph Steiners.

In the early part of the 20th Century, farmers started to use chemicals to grow their products. Steiners revolutionized farming by suggesting the approach of biodiversity. This concept brings together crops and livestock, recognizing their combined importance to create a self-sustaining, comprehensive environment. Through biodiversity, soil, plant, animal and human life can thrive in a healthy atmosphere. Many farmers today use this healthy, homeopathic venture to create a green living lifestyle.

It is not only on the ground that Enota is working toward sustainability. This mountain retreat is in the process of transitioning to alternative energy but need the help of some professionals. They have built a hydro plant that can create enough energy to supply their lodge, but it is not yet functional (there is a dispute with the Forest Service over the use of a pre-existing source of water). On the horizon, they will build solar and wind sources for their energy.

This close-knit community, working at making its own stand for an eco-friendly world, also opens its arms to welcome new members as well as visitors. The many attractions of this mountain retreat bring a continuous number of visitors who hike, swim, or convene a meeting. This influx of visitors is a source of revenue for the Retreat. There are more than 20 hiking trails, including the nearby Appalachian Trail, which runs from Georgia to Maine. Other mountain trails are nearby.

Commune with Nature

The property includes a swimming hole, a fishing pond and five streams that are the headwaters for several major Southern rivers. The most popular water attractions are four waterfalls, the most picturesque of which has a 400-foot drop, and another with a 200-foot drop. Just outside the property, across the road, is yet another waterfall. There is no lack of opportunity to commune with nature.

Green Living: Enota Mountain Retreat

As a part of its historical and cultural history, a Native American sweat lodge, which not only cleanses the body but also cleanses the mind, draws many visitors. The organic garden and animal farm draw both adults and children. Schoolchildren come on field trips for the day and individuals or groups arrange tours. There is a recycling center, a fair trade store, a spa and a wellness center available as part of Enota’s ecology.

Accommodations include:

  • Cabins,
  • A motel structure,
  • Full hook-up RV sites, and
  • Family, adult-only or group tent camping sites.

Some motel and camping sites border the streams. Day passes are available for those visitors who do not wish to stay overnight. The Lodge and other facilities are available for private rental. These include a large hall and smaller meeting or breakout rooms that can accommodate up to 250 people for seminars, workshops, retreats, weddings and most other gatherings.

Enota Mountain Retreat is a shining example of a non-profit conservation facility committed to preserving and maintaining the beauty of the land for all to enjoy. The Huffington Post rates Enota Mountain Retreat as one of the nine best camping sites in the country. TripAdvisor awarded Enota a 2013 Certificate of Excellence. The philosophy of ecology is evident here every day and that is the best rating to give Enota Mountain Retreat.

Images courtesy of Enota Mountain Retreat (G+)

By Warren Johnson

Warren R. Johnson is a Georgia-based freelance writer, author and bookseller. When not writing about green living, Johnson is writing about wine travel and tourism, food and history.