On Saturday, Aug. 7, the Sheepscot Wellspring Land Alliance is offering an educational tour titled “Sustainable backyards: A tour of homes, farms, and woods.” This year’s tour and annual fundraising event builds upon the 2009 tour of gardens and home energy technologies, with a more diverse offering and a greater emphasis on sustainable practices and livelihoods.

Maine has long been home to many people of modest means who have to think outside the box in order to raise a family and make ends meet. This “can-do” approach has inspired creative and finely tuned livelihoods that help maintain an intimacy between the human community and the natural world. Included in this year’s tour are:

Village Farm, a community supported agriculture farm in Freedom. Owners Polly Shyka and Prentice Grassi have a 3.5-acre market garden with organically grown vegetables, a tree and shrub nursery, an extensive herb and flower garden and raise chickens, pigs and cows. Their vision is to become a place where neighbors can interact and people can connect with the source of their food — a “farm for the village.”

Ravenwood in Searsmont has 175 acres of forests and fields and is co-owned by five people whose goals are land stewardship and education. Since 2001 Ravenwood has been the site for educational programs of the Audubon Expedition Institute teaching sustainable and simplified living practices. They have bio-intensive gardens and use many energy-saving practices and technologies.

Super Chilly Farm in Palermo is owned by Fedco Trees founder John Bunker and Cammy Watts and is 100 acres of mostly woods. They have a renowned orchard of heirloom and endangered apple trees, as well as ornamentals and vegetable gardens. In 2008 Bunker published “Not Far From the Tree,” an account of his experiences and conversations as he searched local orchards for old apple varieties.

ReVision Energy in Liberty, is Maine’s leading installer of solar hot water and solar power systems. Their office features a 1.8-kilowatt grid-tied solar electric system, a 40-tube solar hot water system and is heated by a Tarm wood boiler. ReVision supports and encourages businesses and organizations in Maine in their efforts for sustainability and partners with other green-minded businesses.

G*O Logic Homes in Belfast, integrates design, engineering,and building systems to create homes 10 times more energy-efficient than the average home. These “net-zero” homes are the affordable and super-energy-efficient model planned for the Belfast Cohousing and Ecovillage.

Stover Woods is owned by Lee Stover, the third generation of his family to steward this 100-acre forest in Waldo. Stover is a forester, logger and sawmill operator. He manages his woods for lumber, pulpwood, firewood, wildlife habitat, clean water, recreation and aesthetics.

Talks and demonstrations will be offered at all five locations at specific times throughout the day; visitation is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. A healthy bag lunch can be ordered in advance. Tickets are on sale at several area businesses and through the SWLA office. Prices are: adults, $20; students $10; children under 12 are free.

Volunteers are needed for a variety of tasks, especially on the day of the tour. If you’d like to help or want more information, contact SWLA at 589-3230 or buckoherin@fairpoint.net.

The Sheepscot Wellspring Land Alliance is a tax-exempt, 501c3 nonprofit land trust that conserves lands in the headwaters of the Sheepcot River in the towns of Freedom, Liberty, Montville and Palermo. SWLA’s preserves, a jointly managed 26-mile trail network and educational and recreational programs draw constituents from a broad area. Since its formation in 1991, SWLA has permanently protected 819 acres and 11 properties.