Photo courtesy of the Rockefeller Archive Center.
The New Alchemy Institute
The New Alchemy Institute (NAI) was founded in 1969 on Cape Cod, Massachusetts to explore adaptive strategies for sustainable living in an overburdened natural environment. Scientific research focused on food-producing and renewable energy systems, including intensive gardens, backyard fish farms, solar collectors, aquaculture, hydro-wind power, and two major self-sufficient bio-shelters, called Arks, on Cape Cod and Prince Edward Island. NAI also aimed to change public awareness and acceptance of new technologies, gearing its inventions toward usability for families, communities, and small businesses. Although NAI’s work was widely considered valuable and sound, it struggled to achieve efficiency and a broad base of financial support. The RBF was an early backer, contributing to the Institute’s general expenses from 1974 through 1981. RBF staff strove to connect NAI with potential funders and colleagues in alternative environmental design. The Institute closed in 1991, although similar research continues at The Green Center, Inc., which evolved from NAI and still distributes publications of NAI research.