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Tours offered at greenhouse that reuses wastewater

June 1, 2012  By Treena Hein

Hundredfold Farm's wastewater is treated naturally and used to grow greenhouse crops.

Tours of a greenhouse in Orrtanna, Pennsylvania that uses and purifies domestic wastewater will again be offered during its third annual Open House on Saturday, June 9th.

The innovative greenhouse-based wastewater treatment system purifies wastewater through a series of artificial marshes and ponds.

The farm’s website describes the greenhouse water system as follows:


“Wastewater is collected from the homes in individual underground tanks near each home. The waste slurry from these tanks is pumped to a greenhouse located near the top of the property.

Within the confines of the greenhouse, the raw sewage from our 14 homes and commonhouse will be pumped through a series of gravel beds and above ground tanks. The beds and tanks contain plant species whose root mass creates a habitat for microbes, bacteria and other sewage-eating organisms. Sewage is broken down naturally as it flows through the beds and tanks, just as it would in nature. Adding additional oxygen flow to the tanks accelerates the process. The goal is to create a series of healthy and diverse ecosystems.

After the waste has gone through the series of tanks the result is clear water that meets state standards for reuse. It is then be pumped back to the homes for non-potable purposes such as washing laundry, landscape watering, and toilet flushing. Excess treated water will be disposed by way of a sub-surface drip system that will be used to irrigate our non-edible crops.”

Hundredfold Farm is an eco-community with ten energy-efficient, single-family homes (with four more planned) clustered on six acres of an 75-acre organic Christmas tree farm, with the remaining land preserved for the farm, woodlands, open space, community facilities, and gardens.

The homes are set on the south-facing side of a hill to provide passive solar heating, as well as solar hot water for domestic hot water use. There are photovoltaic solar panels on the roofs.

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