The following ideas sprang from a long discussion with long-time blog contributor Ajarn Richard. Richard has traveled the world and is now planning a tour of US sustainable farms in his new van. Part of his plan is to do WWOOFER farm work on organic farms in exchange for learning, meals and parking his van.
Everyone needs community. However, it’s getting increasingly hard to find a community of people that you really get along well with. Richard’s plan is to get to know people on a number of farms, and then hopefully build lasting relationships with those he gets along best with.
Starting a homestead is a serious long term commitment that requires a sizable investment in terms of money, time and effort. Richard feels that it’s somewhat risky to sink everything into a homestead. For instance, fracking companies or a big agra industrial feedlot could move into your area and upset the balance of the environment and local community, increase crime, pollution, etc.
Richard’s plan of working with multiple organic farms in a distributed network spreads these risks. If things don’t work out at Location A, you go to Location B or C. After all, things are always changing. One area could get wiped out in a flood, fire or hurricane. Instead of losing your homestead you’d simply relocate in your van, skoolie, tiny house on wheels, etc. to another site.
Key to the success of a plan like this is first developing skills – learn valuable skills such as how to boost soil quality and crop productivity with natural farming/permaculture techniques, knowing how to optimally plant trees, grow microgreens, etc. ***Create enough value and like-minded people will naturally coalesce into community.
“Introducing ultra-low-cost agriculture for everyone. Jadam Korean Natural Farming Method as trained and practiced on Kaua`I, Hawaii. Locally sourced and produced methods for fertilization, pesticides, and bio-remediation of farms and land. Very low-cost organic farming methods. Indigenous people, the world over, have used similar practices since farming began.”
They say you can farm organically at $100 per acre a year using this method with only minimal use of inputs from off the farm. Use what is locally available and free: pristine soil samples and culture samples from under undisturbed old trees, wild grass, weeds, spoiled fruit, fruit peels, left over egg shells and fish bones, old leaves, worm castings, fungi, biochar, mulch, etc.
Tips from the video: All mixtures are sustainable, super safe and nontoxic, but please wear a mask when spraying to avoid getting too many organisms in your face and lungs. Mixtures are typically made from concentrates and then mixed with rainwater at ratio of one teaspoon per gallon. Use pure rainwater in the formulations. Plant Sesabania Grandiflora as nursery trees to provide shade for new trees in your forest garden. Later, grind them up and use as mulch around the fruit trees. Minerals from seawater or diluted sea salt can be used to help replenish garden soil. Natural ‘pesticides’ (more like repellents) are made with materials such as neem leaves, garlic and onion. Bio-remediation can be done in a patchwork across the land, and over time the beneficial organisms will spread into surrounding areas. Fungi are effective at bio-remediating legacy industrial and agro chemicals in the soil. It’s good to cover the soil with thick mulch to help keep the soil moist and help the microbes grow.
Vince Edwards is an off-gridder who’s creating a model for a network of self-sustaining communities. He’s got 20 acres in Colorado and has written a book about it called, I’m Leaving Civilization: Wanna Come with Me? 110 pages, Kindle ebook for $9.99 at Amazon.com. Not surprisingly he’s come under attack by local authorities for his outspoken opinion on excessive building codes and regulations. He’s currently running for local sheriff to turn this situation around.
Book summary by the author: “It’s been said by many that, “you can’t handle the truth” and I’m not just discussing Hollywood actors. Can you handle the truth? Is the truth hiding amongst the following pages? This is either the beginning for you in your study of “rights gone by” or this book is what you’ve been looking for that could point you in the direction of the “end of the rainbow.”
This book is a work in progress, as evidenced by the “First Edition” subtitle. I’m working the knowledge, strategies and theories into my life to test them, as I go along to potentially edit small portions of this book.
The thousands of conversations I’ve had with people, attempting to explain exactly how things work and sometimes succeeding, led me to a word processor to see if I could explain things better to myself, and by extension: You.
I hope you get a lot out of this book, and it is the catalyst that changes many lives for the better. I welcome all feedback both for and against, critical or not. You’ll find my contact information somewhere in the footnotes.”
~ Vince Edwards
I hear he has more information on Facebook and Twitter. Vince’s experience is part of a larger story of corruption in Costilla County, Colorado that we covered in 2016: Colorado Off-Gridders Forced back on the Grid, Camping on own land Illegal. Roughly 200 off-gridders were forced off their land under controversial conditions. This is a big story because Vince Edwards has obtained documents that indicate fraud and abuse took place to drive these people off their land.
Seven years ago, Jeremy and Mira Thompson quit their jobs and sold their suburban home to hit the road in a short-bus they’d converted into a mobile home. After a year on the road, they’d gone through their savings and were thinking about starting a family.
Now living on family property on Washington’s Key Peninsula, they bought a full-sized school bus at auction. This time they stripped away the metal behind the cab and embedded a wooden cottage inside their new vehicle.
Jeremy used his experience as an auto body mechanic and recent education in architectural drafting to design their conversions. He had also turned his carpentry into paid work and needed a workshop. After finding a very affordable container – one that had been tagged as scrap-, Jeremy began to convert it into a wooden clad (on 3 sides) office with a green roof.
Excellent video packed with inspiring, practical ideas like buying school buses dirt cheap at auction. The school district had to sell a bunch of them quickly due to a change in air quality regulations. This created a surplus and the price came way down. Lots of recycled/reclaimed items turned into a beautiful home and shop.
Raphaelle and Mark are wild folk living an alternative lifestyle. Together they are reinventing how business is conducted- in tiny, eco-friendly, nomadic off-grid ways. Join us as we take a tour of their amazing DIY off-grid wilderness lab built out of an old cargo trailer and learn a little bit more about the story of this incredible couple!!
David has designed and built a very nice solar water heating system for his energy efficient home. It is a drainback system that uses an EPDM lined, non-pressurized wood tank for heat storage.
Some of the highlights of Dave’s system…
Tank design suitable for limited height crawlspaces.
Nice tank frame design using half lap joints for the corners
Used new old-stock commercial collectors at a very good price
Efficient heat exchanger installation
Using used and recycled materials kept the cost of the system down
David with his three drainback collectors
David’s system consists of three collectors mounted vertically on the south wall of his house. The heat storage tank for the system is in the crawl space under the collectors. Its a drainback system, so for freeze protection, the water in the collectors drains back to the heat storage tank when the pump turns off.
The collectors were obtained on Craig’s list as “new old-stock” for a very good price.
The heat storage tank is a non-presurized, wood framed, insulated with polyiso rigid foam, and then lined with an EPDM liner – this is a design that has been used on quite a few Build It Solar projects, and works well.
David with heat storage tank in his 29 inch deep crawl space.
The heat exchanger uses a 300 ft coil of pex pipe that has been used successfully on several Build-It-Solar projects. The scheme that Dave used to support the pipe coil and space the coils out is very nicely done and likely provides a worthwhile gain in heat transfer efficiency. One nice thing about this style of heat exchanger is that it stores several gallons of fully preheated water right in the coil.
PEX coil heat exchanger with nice coil separation and support scheme.
This 1950s Montreal house was retrofitted to become a super efficient passive house by adding a 16 inch thick layer of cellulose insulation to the exterior.
Maison Ozalée’s builder, Richard Price from Construction Le Tournesol, also used triple glazed windows with insulated frames, and strategically placed small windows on the north side of the building to reduce heat loss, and placed large windows on the south side to take advantage of solar gain, which helps heat the house in winter. In order to avoid overheating the house in the summer, there are built-in shading elements above the large south-facing windows.
Because of the energy gained from passive solar, and because it’s airtight, this home only needs approximately 10% of the energy a typical home of the same size would need to heat during the winter.
This is all very interesting, however, most people can’t afford tens of thousands of dollars just to lower their heating bill. Need to find low cost, simple solutions. That’s why we emphasize using natural materials.
New earthbag primary school in Dhading District, Nepal
We are proud to announce the completion and opening of Belingtar Primary School in Dhading District, Nepal. Thanks to our team, volunteers and sponsors Kimberly and Becca for making it all happen and giving the children a safe and beautiful space to study.
Earthbag construction Butterfly Learning Center, Nepal
We are also excited to announce the Butterfly Learning Center is finally opened! The Center is built using Earthbag technology and will serve as a community building and learning center for adults and children. In collaboration with various NGOs, Good Earth Global will be running workshops such as Adult Literacy Classes, Women empowerment, creative and fun classes for children, health and hygiene, etc…
We would like to say special thanks to the sponsors Jennifer Dahlem and Kevin L.H. for making this project happen! We are also grateful to our Good Earth Global team and volunteers who managed to overcome all the obstacles and complete the beautiful building that will serve the community.
This is one of the most amazing tiny houses ever. The interior is a true work of art. And the pizza oven is just… wow!
The Gypsy Mermaid is undoubtably one of the most creative and artistic tiny house builds that we have visited to date. There are features in this home that I didn’t believe to be possible in a tiny house such as a fully functional feature pizza oven right in the middle of the home which provides both ample warmth and amazing pizza!
This couple loves to travel and were greatly inspired by European style in their build, especially when it came to the interior decor of the home. The entire place was constructed by the couple as a DIY build for the unbelievable price of only $15,000, largely thanks to the amount of reclaimed materials that have gone into the tiny home’s construction.