Homesteading in the borderlands of Arizona & Sonora, USA



 Min stay requested: at least 2 weeks



  • Description


    Hola! We are a family of three attempting to live life to the fullest. We above all value our relationship with the earth and by doing that have been slowly creating our small homestead nestled in the Sky Islands ecosystem located between Bisbee Arizona and the Mexico (Sonora) border. Arisha is the youngest member of the family at about 3 years old, she is learning as much about her surroundings as she can. Valeria, originally from Lima Peru, is a vibrant mother/architect/designer/skateboarder/dancer/ and lover of life. She brings immense stability and organization to our small homestead. Zach, an ecologist (ex park ranger) by profession, keeps things in motion on this growing homestead. With permaculture experience throughout South America, the Midwest, and the Southwest, he brings experience as well as the desire and happiness to take on the labor of starting from scratch.

    The entire family is very open and respective of all cultures, very interested in sharing our ways of life as well as learning from others. Zach and Vale are both fluent in English and Spanish. Apart from being avid travelers, lovers of traditional knowledge and culture, enjoying ALWAYS delicious food and drink, extreme sport lovers, our MAIN energy in life is restoring a small 2.5 acre piece of land that we obtained in 2018. This land was severely disturbed (heavily disturbed with machinery), and we are firm believers in not only living sustainably, but also in making our world a better place. This includes the piece of Earth that we occupy on the daily.

    Our main projects we are working on fall within the realm of PERMACULTURE (or whatever word you like to use for humans trying to live sustainably within our ecological communities): gardening, natural building, animal integration, landscape design, natural desert plant/medicine harvesting, and anything else that pertains to a sustainable lifestyle that lives within the cycles of nature.

    The area that we call home is truly wonderful in the sense that it provides a one of a kind community to call home. We are located between uniquely creative Bisbee and Naco (Arizona & Sonora) Mexico. Bisbee is a creative town that is known for its quirky personality. On a typical year, there are countless community festivals in the arts, music, culture, and history. Additionally, we are located only 3 miles from the Mexican (Sonora) border with a legal port of entry for easy access to travel in Northwestern Mexico. On both sides of the border one can find endless opportunities for outdoor recreation - camping, hiking, biking, birding, etc. The Madrean Sky Islands is a beautifully complex ecosystem that never gets old! Zach has worked extensively throughout the region and can help you plan most adventures desired (we may even join you)!

    We are well connected in our area. So for the travel hungry Workawayers, if we cannot provide you with good information/connection for your explorations and adventures, we will know someone who can help.

    Things to keep in my while staying at the homestead. We structure our "work hours" usually into three days so that folks can plan their weeks around those days. Some days include shared lunches, some do not. We are a pretty laid back community, but we value working HARD. We like to have fun while the magic happens, but please keep in mind - a lifestyle that is connected within the natural cycle means using our bodies. In the hours that we set aside to work, we expect to be productive while learning and having fun!

    In addition to work hours, for those that stay on the homestead we ask that you take part in our "community chores". These fall outside of work hours and are seen as simple chores that benefit all who are inhabiting the homestead. Example chores can be cleaning shared spaces used by all, harvesting crops, feeding the animals, compost toilet management, etc.

    Also for those interested in the aspects of sustainability outside of the individual homestead we are active in a greater community movement towards living off the land. Typically every other Sunday we partake in our regional "homestead swap" were we rotate helping out on friends' sustainability projects. Its super fun, always lots of learning, and a great way to see how we can organize ourselves on a larger scale to intelligently design our communities as they grow. Little by little!

    (updated December 2022)

  • Types of help and learning opportunities

    Types of help and learning opportunities

    Art Projects
    Help with Eco Projects
    DIY and building projects
    Animal Care
    Farmstay help
    Creating/ Cooking family meals
    Help around the house
    General Maintenance
  • 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

    Although we inhabit the borderlands of Arizona and Sonora, Mexico we originally come from other places. Valeria, is from Lima Peru and LOVES to share her vibrant culture with everyone. She will likely try to speak Spanish with you, thats just how she is (she is fluent in English as well). Zach originally comes from the Midwest Lake Superior region, and love to share Northwoods culture with you. Part of his ancestry comes from central Mexico and he has traveled and lived extensively in Latin America. He currently works in Sonora, Mexico. Both enjoy teaching Spanish and sharing our favorite foods - Mexican and Peruvian!

    If desired, a more structural language exchange can be set up in agreement. Zach has experience teaching Spanish to English speakers and English to Spanish speakers. Dependent on work loads!

  • Projects involving children

    Projects involving children

    This project could involve children. For more information see our guidelines and tips here.

  • Help


    As mentioned we are living on and growing a 2.5 acre homestead. The main projects we would like assistance on currently (Winter & Spring 2024) are food production - garden and small field crop plot, animal care, development of a small paddock system for goats, water harvesting projects, and a variety of natural building construction projects.

    Garden and Field plot - we have a medium sized garden and a rectangular "field crop" area. We plant about 9 months of the year and work with organic methods of soil restoration and enrichment. We do not use any synthetic/chemical fertilizers, insecticides, or herbicides. We do it the all natural way: by hand and getting dirty! In spring 2021 we set up our first drip irrigation system. The main crops we cultivate are winter wheat, beans, corn, squash, pumpkin, melons, chiles, and gourds. In the garden we do a mixture of greens, tomatoes, tomatillos, chiles, herbs, and other randoms. We will try basically anything that makes sense with our climate. Anything that makes sense in the desert is fair game. We love to teach what we know about permaculture techniques and our experiences in this arid climate as well as others. We also love to learn from others' experience! (Zach was a Peace Corps Agricultural volunteer in subtropical South America). We also have a growing patch of raspberries and strawberries. A very small fruit orchard is slowly growing - apple, pear, pomegranate, and fig.
    JANUARY - MARCH 2024: We will be amending soil, updating irrigation systems, running waterlines, and getting the first seeds in the ground (February winter wheat and winter greens).

    Animal Care - chickens, turkeys, goats, dog & cat. We raise birds for eggs and meat. Additionally, goats are for milk and meat. For those who like daily routines, feeding and taking care of the animals is a great experience on the homestead. Additionally, if the experience of butchering and cleaning is desired we are more than happy to teach our methods. We have a semi-wild hive of honey bees that we work with as well.
    SPRING/SUMMER 2024 we will be building a 2nd small paddock system for our goats... likely in the realm of a 1/3rd acre. Involves pounding posts, fencing, gates, and building a small housing structure.

    Building Projects - This is the portion of help that we need the most help in. We currently have a few DIY building projects going on, all designed and built or building by ourselves. We almost strictly work with adobe architecture (superadobe, cob, earth bricks, etc.) but look forward to expanding into straw-bale, rock work, and more. Our main project is a residential 800sq ft house that we are building. It is superadobe (earthbag) architecture, and is roughly 80% done. Currently our family fully lives here, while we still use the community bathrooms and shower. The next steps are finishing the last coats of exterior lime wash, interior plaster in the bathroom, small interior cob wall building, installing a solar hot water heater, finish the grey water recycling system, and many details! Valeria is a certified architect in Peru, and is a wealth of knowledge in design and building. Zach has developed his natural building skills throughout South America as well as in the SW US. Every year we feel more connected to this sacred knowledge, yet we realize there is so much to learn!
    - JANUARY - MARCH we will be continuing interior work of the main adobe house while the weather is still cold. All layers of interior plaster to do in the bathroom - base hand plaster, trowel plaster, and final smooth plasters and oil sealing. Additionally we will be building a shower and bathtub with mix rock, masonry, and adobe techniques.
    - We are in progress of building a southern facing sun porch/green house. Roofing work expected to be done by early January and the fun will begin making a puzzle mosaic of framing, recycled windows, and cob adobe filler.
    - We have started and will be finishing a garage area for all of our recycled building materials, mostly built from recycled materials! Conventional roof with a pallet wall that will be earth plastered... total experiment!
    - SPRING 2023 - once most nights are out of freezing we have exterior plaster work on our solar battery shed, cob compost bathroom/shower, chicken coop/greenhouse, and landscaping wall around guest trailer... we have a tendency to jump between projects once they are functional...but not done!
    - We will be building out our greenhouse/chicken coop into a larger structure at some point in 2024. Involves cob and plaster work, roof structure and transparent panels, and framing to make a mosaic of recycled windows.

    Other random eco projects can include - landscape restoration, watershed landscaping, and lots of crafting and making this homestead more magical!

    We are VERY flexible and want to provide an enjoyable experience for visitors. We ideally would come to an agreement on how many hours per week worked would feel right for everyone. Most tasks would be done with either Zach or Valeria or other residents of the property that are up to speed. We truly like to have fun, but keep in mind we work HARD. We also are open for folks to pursue individual projects or techniques that they are interested in learning. Long stays will have the flexibility to take on self guided projects that can be co-designed!

    In addition to work hours, for those that stay on the homestead we ask that you take part in our "community chores". These fall outside of work hours and are seen as simple chores that benefit all who are inhabiting the homestead. Example chores can be cleaning shared spaces used by all, harvesting crops, feeding the animals, compost toilet management, etc.

  • Languages

    Languages spoken
    English: Fluent
    Spanish: Fluent
    Portuguese: Beginner

    This host offers a language exchange
    If our visitors are willing to share their language with us we are more than happy to share ours as well. Zach has experience teaching both English and Spanish in a tutor type setting. We are busy humans, so this is very dependent on time!

  • Accommodation


    Winter update* night time low temperatures in Dec - Feb range from 20F- 40F. Depending on accommodations, your experience/tolerance of cold, and the amount of worktraders already on the homestead - this is a limiting factor for these winter months.

    We have a few options for accommodation. What we provide is an outdoor bathroom complex that has a shower with solar hot water, compost toilet, and sink. We have another earth bathroom (compost toilet) and earthen shower in construction. We hopefully will have the second shower usable by Summer 2024 (we could use some help on this!). We offer a small truck bed camper that is on stilts. This is fully furnished with a small kitchenette, full sized bed, storage space, and small table. It has running water and a small gas stove top. Built onto this is a front desk with a shade structure. There is a access to electricity.

    Depending on availability we have a fully furnished 35 foot travel trailer. We lived here while we constructed our construction - it is quite spacious and has a kitchen, bedroom sink, small wood stove, and living room area. Modest and colorfully funky.

    Other options for those who prefer to use their own equipment would be space to park a RV/camper as well as place to set up a tent. Again, we are flexible!

    On the property we have access to wifi, potable water (city water), and limited electricity. We installed our own off-grid solar setup in 2021 - 4kw of pv panels, 5kw of 120v ac power inverter, and 10kwh of lithium battery bank. Although it is much much larger than what we have lived off of the previous years, there are still limitations for what visitors and residents can use. Charging devices, using tools, small fridges, and such is of course accesible, but larger appliances (fridges or other things that continuously run) will most likely not be a good addition. Heating with electricity is almost always a no go. Ask us about specifics if you have any questions. The idea is to be energy conscious! If you have your own way of producing electricity, even better! A note* for winter travelers. We try to stay away from electric forms of heat because it pulls a lot of electricity at night and we are limited by battery storage.

    We realistically do not have much time to cook for visitors on a daily basis. With that in mind we love to share meals, when it works for everyone. We sustain ourselves with as much of our own productions as possible and obtain the rest of our food locally when possible. We expect Workawayers to be responsible for feeding themselves. Many times when we have a small community (5+) we will rotate cooking lunches into the group responsibilities. Production from the garden, crops, and animals will be available for those who are staying. This is dependent on the season.

    If you would like to work more than 15 hours a week in exchange for meals, we can potentially work something out. This has been done in the past, but is dependent on Zach and Vale's ability to provide meals.

    In the end communication is very important! We typically hold "family meetings" once a week to make sure everyone is on the same page and that there is a dedicated space for folks to be able to share their feelings, experience, and ideas.

  • What else ...

    What else ...

    We love to share our area with you! From our property there is affordable public transportation to Historic Bisbee, Sierra Vista, and Douglas. Bisbee is an excellent place for sightseeing, musical performances, shopping, hiking etc. Sierra Vista is more of a supplies destination with access to large stores. Being on the border we have access to border towns for tourism, shopping, and eating. Additionally, we are more than happy to help plan a trip further into Mexico for you. We travel extensively in Sonora, including the Gulf of California.

    In the immediate area you will find access to beautiful hiking trails in pristine forested canyons, sup-alpine forested peaks (9,500ft), superb views of the desert valleys, riparian riverways, and high desert hikes. Public lands are abundant in this area. You will find recreation opportunities in National Forests, National Park sites, Wildlife Refugees, and other accessible public lands. This is an area of endless free recreation!

    Tucson is the closest large city and airport with all other needs. The drive is about 1.5 hours northwest.

    We are a social family and like to mingle with our community. Visitors are always welcome to be a part of the larger family! Our family apart from homestead activities enjoys hiking, camping, skateboarding, traveling, cooking, creating, and music! We love to learn from others and share in their passions.

  • 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

  • Can host digital nomads

    Can host digital nomads

    Our wifi is based in our house. As of fall 2022 this is our primary residence, but the wifi does reach roughly a radius of 70 feet from the house. Although we have no problem with digital nomads (sometimes we are ones), we are hesitant to accept folks who are full time digital nomads for community reasons. By that we mean individuals that work a full 40 hours per week remotely. Case by case situations are worth looking at!

  • Space for parking camper vans

    Space for parking camper vans

    Campervans and motorhomes are welcome! We do not have official electrical hookups, but there are options to pull extension cords from the main solar system. If you are self sustainable you are more than welcome and we have space. Please speak with us about details about how large your rig is for further planning and if you would like to pull from the main solar system what your electricity needs are.

  • Can possibly accept pets

    Can possibly accept pets

    Pets are allowed, but please dogs that behave well! We have chickens, turkeys, 2 cats, and a dog that watch the property. They roam free.

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?

    More than two

  • ...

    Hours expected

    5 hours a day, 3 days a week

Host ref number: 849228137586

Feedback (8)


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