Our Journey

Tony and I are setting off to start a new life… it’s going to take some time for everything to fall into place, but we’ve been talking about and planning this for months. The house we will be building is going to be really special and will reflect our values, our passion for sustainability, love of nature and desire to build community.

Tony is very technical with lots of experience tinkering, rebuilding cars and doing home renovations. He easily understands the big picture and can break it down into bite size pieces. Also, he never gives up! I think being unafraid to try new things is going to be really important as we move this project forward.

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Our Garden Box

One of my projects at Capilano University has been to create a community garden on campus.  The garden is an amazing space, one that brings people together to grow things, share gardening knowledge and a quiet space to relax; these experiences are helping to build the campus community for students and employees along with our neighbours in the surrounding townhomes.

The garden was officially opened on Earth Day in 2013 – with Tony and I planting our first community garden box a few weeks earlier.

We learned a lot that summer including:

  • consistent water is important
  • knowing what plants to plant together – and which do better apart
  • planting things you love to eat
  • eat what you plant!

In the fall of 2013 I planted 16 garlic cloves; today we harvested them.  YUMMMM…. I know it’s not going to be enough for our use for the whole year – garlic is a real favourite at our house – I’ll have to supplement with organic garlic from local farmers’ markets.  But I am ok with that.

We planted carrots, beets, corn, scarlet runner beans, squash, hot peppers, red peppers and kale.  So far this year I’ve learned…

  • pick frequently
  • 3 sisters planting for beans, corn and squash works
  • it’s fun to sit in the garden and eat what you picked

The garlic is drying in the garage, as soon as it is dry enough, I’m going to braid it.  I’ve been busy watching youtube videos to learn how.  Here’s one that I really enjoyed by the GardenNerd.com

This fall (2014) I plan to plant more garlic,closer together, using some of this garlic.  Cool – a closed production loop.

We’re seriously considering an in-door greenhouse in our passive home, having a community garden is building the knowledge we’ll need to have to grow food successfully.

Photo voltaic solar system

We’ll be using photo voltaic systems to generate the electricity we need to power our home.
a solar array mounted in a field.
Solar PV Array mounted in front of a bank of windows.

A photovoltaic system, also PV system or solar array, is an installation of several components, including solar panels to absorb and directly convert sunlight into electricity, a solar inverter to change the electrical current from DC to AC, as well as mounting, cabling and other electrical accessories to set-up a working system. Read more at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photovoltaic_system

Rocket Mass Heaters

April 2014 -Tony and I headed off to Coquille, Oregon to learn how to build a Rocket Mass Heater.  We have done the pre-reading, and we are full of questions, curious to find out if this simple system will be sufficient to heat the home we plan to build.

From the moment we arrived, and crossed over the small bridge from the parking lot to the school, the learning began…

Our hosts Ivanto Evans and Linda Smiley were warm and friendly – opening their home and their hearts to the handful of guests participating in the weekend workshop.  We were served up delicious, organic food – grown on site, along with large doses of experience and knowledge .  Our days were spending listening to Ivanto, Master Cob Builder and inventor of the Rocket Mass Heater sharing the history of cob building, rocket mass heaters and his passion for nature.

On the last day of the weekend, I woke early to join Ivanto and Linda on a educational stroll through part of the over 350 acres of watershed. The grandeur of the forest and the intelligence of the closed system that is Mother Nature moved me beyond words and re-affirmed for me that we are headed in the right direction – this journey back to the land.

 

a radically sustainable, 'Earthship' inspired off grid home on Vancouver Island, BC