Latest developments of Iskcon Alachua

By Mukhya Devi Dasi - 3.7 2017

From New Rama Reti’s Newsletter online

The State of the State – your tithing dollars at work! Wow, we are already half way through 2017, so here’s a peek at what your tithing dollars are allowing us to do at the Temple.
We have spent the past 16 months working on securing development permits for Phase II of our master plan, which includes building guest cottages around the pond. It’s been a long and tedious process, where every department of county regulators comes over to have a look and give opinions on what we want to do.

Included in that Development Review Plan was the request to build the new Bathroom House. We received full permission last month, and are now in the building permit process for the bathrooms. We expect them to be completed in time for the Festival of The Holy Name. You’ll notice the Gift Shop being moved into its new spot to make way for the bathrooms, and the small shed currently housing the soda refrigerators will be relegated to storage and moved off the front of the property. )

This year we are going to replace the single wide mobile home that currently houses Sakshigopal das and family. That is actually the oldest structure on our property, and it is fair to say it has done its duty. We are taking a construction loan, putting up 25% of the cost to build, and replacing it with a 1,300 square foot, 3 bedroom house. You may be aware that one of Sakshi’s outreach programs includes meeting and greeting and feeding guests as his home every Sunday. He also holds some classes here and hosts almost all of the visiting sannyasis for breakfast and lunch. This upgrade is long overdue! Construction should start very soon.

I think everyone will agree that our many magnificent Live Oaks are one of the highlights of our property. We are working with Florida Pest Control to mitigate the huge amount of Spanish moss hanging on our trees. It weighs down the branches making them breakage prone in the summer rains, and blocks the sunlight the tree needs to be healthy. It’s a very expensive process, $7,000 just for the trees on the front of the property. But there is no other way to get rid of it other than hand picking it off. (Not gonna happen.) We’re breaking it into sections, and hope to treat all the trees in the next two years.

Another thing we’re getting to this summer is helping the problems with the road behind the kitchen. While we cannot make a permanent solution to the way the rains wash it away without asphalt (too expensive to consider at this point), we have a professional re-grading the slope, installing a ‘speed bump’ that will actually serve to redirect the water (keep to the 10 mph speed limit people and your cars will be just fine) and rolling in more limerock to smooth it out, so to speak. And while he’s at it we are finally fixing the horrible mess of dumped concrete where you walk to the veranda from behind the kitchen, and putting in a nice smooth cement sidewalk there. Your welcome! We are also collaborating with BANA to re-grade the road between the barn and the school, with ditches along the side to catch the rain and send it toward the gardens.

The Eco Teaching Farm is progressing steadily every day. Please try to stop out some morning and get a tour. Akuti dasi and Jaya Nitai das are about ¾ of the way finished with a wonderful Tulasi temple, totally hand made from Cobb (a mixture of mud, cow dung, hay and pebbles), coated with Hempcrete on the outside and painted with a natural green tinted lime wash on the inside. Indradyumna das donated granite scraps with which Akuti created a wonderful mosaic patterned floor. Rasamrita devi dasi has made stained glass style windows, and Akuti is adding artistic hand carved design elements. An offering of love and devotion for the pleasure of the devotees now and into the future.

Bhakta Kyle had been busy all winter long and now with the daily rains you can really see the fruits of his labor! Gorgeous lush food forests are springing up, plus a big ginger root garden, plus lots of fresh dried basilsoon available for sale. He and Hitakarina are harvesting and drying it daily. He’s also growing moringa trees, which will be dried and powdered. This is nature’s miracle food, a great addition to your smoothies, and you’ll be able to buy it soon at the Sunday table, (all proceeds go right back into the farm). Kyle is also training a dog he adopted from the pound. The goal is to keep her on the Eco Farm at night to help the deer understand that our gardens are not to be messed with. We need a solution, and hope this is it. You’ll see

Our landscaping is more beautiful than ever, you can thank Madhuryalilananda for that. She is so dedicated to the flower gardens, and the love really shows. The spring hanging baskets are coming down, summer baskets are going up, and new flowers have been planted in Mitravinda’s garden to give it some color and new life. The picking gardens are thriving with dalias and marigolds. The deer ate our roses , but she has covered them with netting and they are coming back.

Still lots we want to do sometime soon too. The cedar trees that line the entrance drive have lived their lifespan and need to be replaced. Kesava and Nitaipriya’s mobile home has reached maturity also, and in the next couple of years it too has to be replaced. We’d love to get some cottages built now that we have building permission, there’s a lot we could do with more guest facility.

We have a good plan and a good builder to put up two sets of swings at the little playground, just need the funds ($5K).

We may be looking at a Krishna Lounge program for new people who want to learn more about Krishna, stay tuned to an idea Bhismadeva das will be presenting. Book Distribution enthusiasm has soared thanks to Sri Vrindavan’s dedication and enthusiasm. There are weekly programs going on distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books, and you too can jump in any time in many different ways.

Thank you to all of our donors and tithers, your generous contributions make these projects possible. Please encourage your friends to support our temple, we are here to serve you!