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Living Sustainably in the Arctic, Ester, Alaska, USA



 Min stay requested: at least a week



  • Description


    I am looking for experienced help planting in the Spring of 2024 and later in the summer for harvesting. During mid summer we will be doing some garden maintenance and building maintenance projects that will require experience using tools. Summer is a busy season for me so you need to be able to follow instructions and work independently.

    This place is on 11.5 acres of mostly wild native Boreal Forest in the hills outside of Ester, AK. (17 miles outside of Fairbanks) I have a home and a small Permaculture garden where I practice a sustainable lifestyle. I am off-grid except for electricity. It is an arctic climate here; long summer days with no darkness and long winter nights with only a few hours of daylight. This is a very pure environment so if you need to get away from EMF's and other environmental toxins this is the place for you. I do not have cable TV, Wifi, cordless phone, microwave oven...none of that. I have a cell phone and a land line.

    When you live in the forest there is constant interaction with the indigenous plants and co-creating happening. The garden is grown using all organic methods and employing Permaculture principles. I harvest rain water, use grey water and have drinking water delivered by the water truck. Being a sustainable lifestyle we are very conservative in water usage.

    Everything grown in the garden is all for my own consumption and storage for winter.

    The chickens help me with the compost pile which is always in multiple stages. There is a vibrant healthy batch of earth worms for vermiculture. There are effective micro-organisms brewing which get used in many ways, including making bokashi and biochar. Maintaining all of these are integrated into the "farm chores" that you would be helping with. It is a constant dance whose rhythm is mainly determined by the weather.

    We use fermentation methods for preserving some foods and as a basic healthy diet. There are water kefir and kombucha brewing. I make sauerkraut using a variety of vegetables.

    There are always lots of "farm chores"; the work is never done and that is what makes living here fun and exciting. Ingenuity is essential and being willing to develop new skills helps one rise to the daily challenges of rural life surrounded by forest. This is not a production farm, it is a survival farm and I process food for winter.

    There are many wild medicinal plants on my property and I wild harvest them and create my own medicines. We live in Boreal blueberry country and mid to late July is when the harvesting takes place. Would you like to make wild medicines or pick blueberries?

    The house was owner designed and built by me and was built in 1982, though she doesn't look her age. The garden has been being worked for that long as well. The house is a "super insulated" construction house with 18" walls, heated with wood. Needless to say there are some maintenance jobs to do on the house as it ages. Right now it is painting the windowsills and replacing some boards on the deck. There are a few basic maintenance repairs.

    We have some animals here whose job it is to help with the garden and make it feel a little more like a farm; 2 hens, a rooster and one black duck. They all play their part, as only Permaculture would have it. There is a barn which is used as the staging area for many kinds of projects and stores supplies of all sorts.

    Summer is a very intense time because it is short and we have to get ready for winter. I heat the house with wood so it has to be gotten and stacked in the wood shed. There is wood on the property that needs to be harvested and I buy some of the wood. Sometimes we reward ourselves with a bonfire after harvesting wood.

    I have a degree in Architecture and a Masters of Science in Planning; specializing in sustainability and food security. I am certified in storm water harvesting and certified in Permaculture. I am always up for a good design challenge. I am also a fiber artist and there are lots of sheep fleece around to try your hand at creating something. I practice and teach yoga and meditation.

    That's probably a good enough intro to the situation here. It's a great place to relax and let go, feel like you are away from it all and get in lots of satisfying hard work. We put in a vigorous work day around here because of the short summer and the projects are varied.

    You will be back to basics, back to nature, reconnecting with your self and appreciating everything around you. We are simple, basic and comfortable around here.

    I cook simple vegetarian food, mainly vegan. If you have a special diet please discuss it with me before coming.

  • Types of help and learning opportunities

    Types of help and learning opportunities

    Help with Eco Projects
    DIY and building projects
    Help around the house
    General Maintenance
    Help with Computers/ Internet
  • UN sustainability goals this host is trying to achieve

    UN sustainability goals this host is trying to achieve

    UN goals
    No poverty
    Zero hunger
    Good health and well-being
    Quality education
    Gender equality
    Clean water and sanitation
    Affordable and clean energy
    Decent work and economic growth
    Industries, innovation and infrastructure
    Reduce inequality
    Sustainable cities and communities
    Responsible consumption and production
    Climate action
    Life below water
    Life on land
    Peace, justice and strong institutions
    Partnerships for the goals
  • Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Living in a rural arctic environment is a unique experience. You will feel the wildness, quiet and rawness of it. You will gain a touchstone into what it requires to live a somewhat sustainable and co-creative lifestyle. Wildcrafting herbs for medicine, picking Boreal blueberries and other wild plants gives one the feel for what it is like to live in harmony with nature.

  • Help


    I am not looking for a "helper". I am looking for a participant; someone who wants to jump in and have the experience of what it is like to live in the forest, co-creating with the indigenous flora and fauna. I am looking for someone who is going to be interested and engaged in the activities surrounding them locally. The more you can leave home and previous habits behind the deeper and more meaningful your experience in the arctic Boreal forest will be.

    This summer I am rebuilding the moose fence which has been trashed by the moose last year.
    I am creating new beds to expand the garden into next summer using the hugelkulture technique. There is a rocket stove which is designed to be a seed starting bed. It needs to have a green house built around it which is another goal for this summer. All of the components to set up an outdoor kitchen in the green house are here but they perform their duties under the trees right now.

    The projects are centered around the garden, house maintenance, and a few small construction projects. I am looking for someone who has basic construction skills and experience using tools.

    There is always garden basics to do; planting, weeding, watering. Depending on the season there could be some wild harvesting. In the fall we will be harvesting and preserving the harvest for winter.

    There is always a need to gather and stack wood for winter. Wood resources are different every year so it could mean a variety of sources.

  • Languages spoken

    English: Fluent

  • Accommodation


    There is a bedroom in the house with a double bed.
    The bathroom is a shared room in the house.
    There is a small cabin on the land with two twin beds in it which is sometimes available when not being used for other purposes.
    All accommodations are clean and heated.
    Food will be provided for meals but I am pretty loose and spontaneous about when I eat. You will prepare your own breakfast, lunch, snacks and we will share cooking one group meal daily. The cosine is vegetarian, mostly vegan.

  • What else ...

    What else ...

    Oh, did I mention that it is beautiful, and there is great hiking nearby? You can hike on dog mushing trails through the forest or go up high into the tundra where no trail is needed.
    Denali Park is only 125 miles south of here. It can be visited in a day or a weekend.
    The Chena River goes through Fairbanks and is a gentle float in rented kiaks or rafts.
    There are two recreational lake picnic areas nearby for boating, fishing and swimming.
    The town of North Pole is right down the road. Santa and the reindeer live there year around.
    You can rent a city-bike in Fairbanks and tour the town; it's flat and small. There is a nice bike trail along the Chena River.

  • A little more information

    A little more information

    • Internet access

    • Limited internet access

      Limited internet access

    • We have pets

    • We are smokers

    • Can host families

  • Space for parking camper vans

    Space for parking camper vans

    This host can provide space for campervans.

  • Can possibly accept pets

    Can possibly accept pets

    Your pet is welcome although not allowed in the garden or house. There is plenty of outdoor space here. The pet must not make the chickens uncomfortable and should be under your control at all times.

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?


  • ...

    Hours expected

    Maximum 5 hours a day, 5 days a week

Host ref number: 637412224937

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