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WHO WE ARE
We (James and Maiken) bought a 10-ha property in 2017 near Älmhult in Sweden, where we live and work with our two boys, Leonardo (age 4) and Napoleon (age 2). We have a goal of complete self-sufficiency, regarding shelter, food, electricity, heat, water and economy.
Our main objective is to create a place that is designed to provide for all our basic needs so that we can spend the rest of our lives knowing that there will always be a shelter, there will always be food and water and there will always be a continuous income. We firmly believe that the combination of land, nature, technology and clever solutions can reach that goal. We wish to be able to put this vision into practice without a massive budget, so all activities depend on craftmanship, manpower, technical skills and knowledge.
Our property was primarily forest when we bought it, and there were no buildings, electricity, water or sewage available. We immediately started building our dream house; an Earthship-inspired house designed to take care of our most basic needs until old age. Over time, our land will be turned into a productive food forest by methods of permaculture, silver pasture, agroforestry, Keyline design and holistic management. We will establish a market garden, a mandala kitchen garden with a diameter of 34 m, orchards and a very efficient production system from permaculture, called a chinampa, of 1,2 km. Over time, chickens, ducks, rabbits, pigs, sheep, alpacas, snails, bees, and cattle will be introduced. First and foremost, we will produce food for our family, but secondly, we expect a surplus large enough to share with the extended family, friends and the local community.
Another of our most important goals is to establish a learning centre for people such as ourselves, who want to get out of the rat race and who believe that you can have a rich and secure life without negatively impacting the climate, causing damage to the Earth and our previous nature. Currently, we are also writing a book about getting out of the rat race by obtaining self-sufficiency through permanent and sustainable solutions. In time, this will be the topic of an online course that we are also working on. We want to spread the message and share our knowledge to as many people as possible.
OUR KNOWLEDGE AND EDUCATION
Over the past more than ten years, we have educated ourselves and obtained great knowledge man many skills. James has a farmer's degree within organic farming, and Maiken has studied a PhD in biology and biotechnology. We have taken several courses and read countless books about permaculture, Scandinavian nature and geology, forest gardening, self-sufficiency, foraging and natural living. We have worked with some of the great masters, and we are certified permaculture designers from Geoff Lawton. We have spent six months full-time making the complete permaculture design for our property - a work that included topographic maps performed by photogrammetry with our drone, soil samples that Maiken performed as a professional biotechnologist and extremely detailed climate analyses as a strong foundation for the design. We have seen quite a few permaculture designers that have failed due to lack of proper initial analyses, so we hope to help our guests to grasp the importance of this and obtain great success. You can see a couple of photos from our design report along with the other photos here. We believe in permanent and sustainable solutions so that our work input only has to be done once.
We have both taught hundreds of people in the past, and we find it very life-affirming to share our knowledge with people who share our interests and want to learn.
You do not need any specific skills to come here, but we expect a positive attitude, curiosity, an eagerness to learn, and a willingness to try new things to expand your knowledge platform.
When staying with us, you will be a part of our family and everyday life, and that includes helping with the daily chores; splitting firewood, collection of food or doing the dishes after meals.
We value knowledge sharing and highly appreciate when it goes both ways, so we appreciate great discussions throughout the day and around the dinner table - therefore, a minimum of a common language is required for your stay with us.
We cannot provide you with any insurance while staying here, so we advise you to take care of that matter on your own. We do, however, do our best to provide a safe environment to avoid any accidents from happening in the first place.
We wish you all the best and hope to see you here soon,
James and Maiken :o)
DIY and building projects
Creating/ Cooking family meals
Help with Eco Projects
Help around the house
This project could involve children. For more information see our guidelines and tips here.
When you sign up for a stay with us, you sign up for learning! You can be a part of building the first home of its kind; a climate-friendly smart home with modern solutions combined with the minimalistic Nordic design. We can teach you building techniques, help you design your own future home, and you can learn about permanent solutions for stable supplies of water, heat and electricity. Furthermore, you will be able to learn about other permaculture solutions, self-sufficiency, animal care, and natural, climate-friendly living – and you can follow the progress right from the beginning! We can help you get out of the rat race safely and securely.
Currently, our main focus is to build our house. This work is very versatile, and there is always more than one project running at a time. In 2020, we are doing a lot of woodwork to produce the timber required for our roof construction. We have a portable sawmill, and many hours will be spent there. The timber will be dried in a Kiln, which also needs to be built. We are also renovating old windows and glass doors for our south-facing façade of the house. Later, we will be clay-plastering the indoor walls and the floors. There will be a lot of shovelling dirt behind the house to completely cover the building and we will be moving massive stones.
Another building project soon to be launched is accommodations for workaways. This will be an octagonal timber construction with room for 12 persons. We will do everything from the bottom and up. From felling trees, milling the trees to timber and putting it all together.
We plan to have chickens, ducks, pigs, sheep, alpacas, snails, bees, fish, crayfish and maybe cattle and rabbits, and we hope to introduce chickens already in 2020. This will require some help in the establishing phase especially with the production of the mobile henhouse.
We are producing most of our plants ourselves – either from seeds, cuttings or root splitting. There will, therefore, be great possibilities for working with plants, for instance with propagation, grafting, pruning, weeding or the establishment of our plant nursery - currently counting a few thousand perennials.
We have made a complete permaculture design for our entire property. This design will over time be implemented and includes earthworks, water design (swales, ponds, diversion drains, chinampa system), access roads and several structural elements, and also a massive mandala garden!
FILMING / PHOTOGRAPHING
We regularly film and photograph our work to freely share our experiences, so if you have specific skills regarding camera use, we might use your assistance for photo, audio, video, and editing of these.
Because we are still in the middle of building our house, we live in a cabin around 5 km from our property. The cabin is small, and there are no extra buildings to live in. Therefore, when staying with us, you must sleep in a tent (bring your own or use ours), but you can, of course, use the facilities of our cabin (kitchen, bathroom, living room, washing machine and such). On the building site, we have a very small insulated shed where a single person can sleep - or a very closely embraced couple ;o) These are all temporary solutions until we, hopefully this year, together can build proper accommodations for our guests. We can also provide you with duvets, pillows, bedding (if you cannot provide your own sleeping bag), towels and washing detergents as needed.
We eat breakfast and dinner together in the cabin, but most often we eat lunch at the building site. We can provide for most dietary restrictions/directions. Fruit, coffee and tea are available all day.
YOUR SPARE TIME
Most of our guests are here to learn as much as possible, but in your spare time, you can experience the Scandinavian culture and enjoy the wonderful Swedish nature by skiing or skating in the wintertime, hiking or biking in spring, swimming in the lakes during the summer or picking mushrooms in the autumn. You can even take an overnight stay in our treetop shelter, from where you might see moose, deer, badger or wild boars! In our nearby town, Älmhult, you can visit Linnés Råshult, where Carl von Linné was born. We can house quite a few interns at a time, so feel free to gather a group and enjoy the benefits of being many! You can have fun with our outdoor games, or make bonfires and barbeque.
HELPING HOURS AND FLEXIBILITY
We are very flexible about when you put your hours - if you prefer long days followed by several days off, it is perfectly fine by us. That might make it easier to plan trips and excursions.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Can host families
This host can provide space for campervans.
More than two
5 hours per day, 5 days peer week
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