As a part of our Bhakti Yoga lifestyle, Radhadesh aims as a comunity to become more and more self-sufficient in acquiring its basic needs. Doing this fufills one of the goals of our society and its founder, A.C. Bhaktivedanta swami Prabhupada, who requested the members to aim towards ‘Simple living and high thinking’. Of course in doing this, we simultaneously become kinder to mother earth and minimise the impact our modern systems are inflicting on the planet.
Radhadesh is home to many people, but our culture requires us to also consider all other living entities such as the trees and animals. In order to live harmoniously, we have to respect the one thing that we all share and that connects us the most; the earth. To date Radhadesh has worked hard at become self-sufficient in three major areas, namely: electricity, heating and water.
These have been major projects developed over many years, with considerable intial costs and planning. Through the service and donations of many different people we have made these projects a very significant step forward towards self-sufficiency. Currently we are in the midst of developing our gardens to be able to provide fresh produce to the residents as well as visitors of Radhadesh for many months of the year.
On this page you will find details and the journey we have taken to reach where we currently are, and where we would like to go.
Radhadesh’s water supply was the first area in which we gained a substantial level of self-sufficiency. Originally, the castle had its own well, which remains to this day, next to the round tower on the South-West side of the castle. Nowadays however, after much hard work and effort, we have four tanks pumping an unlimited supply of clean water to the castle, restaurant and all the other surrounding buildings. Our system is regularly inspected for quality to keep up with all legal requirements. We found a water dowser, the mayor of Somme-Leuze, who found a good spot for a well in the area near the big tree in front of the Retreat Centre. He said from that spot we could have 5m3 of water per hour.
On that spot is a crossing of two underground streams and if we drilled there, about 50 metres deep, we would never run out of water. A devotee called Maitreya Rsi Dasa gave a donation of about 3,300 EUR for the drilling work. We drilled 60 metres under the ground and the water rises to about 38 m from the surface. Radhadesh connected that well with our four water tanks. Then, when the Retreat Centre was built, the temple dug a water tank under the stairs to Retreat Centre’s entrance. The reason for this change was that the fire brigade stipulated that we have a big reservoir of water easily accessible for quickly filling their trucks in the event of a fire. Recently we also installed a system that softens the water by removing the calcium from it.
Radhadesh’s heating system is powered by a biomass furnace. Fueled by woodchips made from trimmings of local parks and hedges. The specific feature of a biomass furnace is that they function by pyrolysis, which means they completely burn all released gasses and thus reduce pollution. In the last ten years, it has not stopped providing hot water for even a single day! On a yearly basis, we consume about 300 tons of wood chips.
In the beginning, the devotees were feeding the furnace manually by bringing chips with wheelbarrows to a conveyor belt. There were shifts 24/7. One year later, after the furnace was installed, a new system was built, using an underground tank with fully automated feeding of the chips to the furnace. Radhadesh’s heater is a biomass furnace from Italy. It produces a maximum of 650 kW/h in ideal circumstances. Normally we manage to get about 350 kW/h out of it.
The furnace has worked for the past ten years and we were able to maintain it with our own manpower. Whenever there is a problem with the fully automated feeding system we switch to manual front feeding with logs of wood and thus keep it going. We also keep our mazut burners as a backup. Three out of four of the burners are still functioning and if we have any technical problems, we can use them in emergency.
In 2013, Radhadesh installed 960 solar panels, which during the day produce more electricity than the temple consumes. The surplus electricity is sold to the electric board, which then sells it back to us during the night when there is no production.
In the future, we at Radhadesh hope to install a combined heat and power system, which will produces electricity from the gases produced during the burning process of the wood chips. Radhadesh made a feasibility study and the result was positive, but since the installation would cost about 400,000 EUR we are not yet able to install it. It would produce a constant supply of 45 kW/h. This would reduce Radhadesh’s electricity bill near to zero, making the temple 90-95% self-sufficient in electricity.