My wife Claire and I aim to stimulate thought and projects to advance a sustainable future. It is the latest incarnation following forty year of gathering and sharing information about long-term wellbeing.
We are located in Lanark County in Eastern Ontario, Canada. We have 140 acres of forest and wet-land with plenty of mature trees and about fifteen acres of cleared land. Two-fifths of the property is protected as Provincially Significant Wetland where we are welcome to explore but not to build. Our gardening and building plans are all on higher land within an area of less than 5 acres. The rest is open for wandering about and selective collecting and harvesting of firewood. And also for logs to mill into lumber with our band-saw lumber-mill, as needed for building projects.
We work to demonstrate as many aspects of a sustainable culture as we can.
In the Summer we work a 9000 sq. ft. organic garden where we practice full-cycle nutrient management. We have an orchard just starting to bear fruit. Some pruning will be necessary before the buds swell. There are also some young apple trees onto which we will be grafting various sorts of apples this spring. Many grafts have been successful on the older trees. The scions we used were from different trees and we look forward to seeing what sorts of fruit they bear.
We have a solar food dryer, which is operable through the Summer. Frequently dried are spearmint, peppermint, nettle, lambs quarters, chard, kale and other greens, herbs and teas. We have also dried apples and tomatoes on occasion. When the days are short, we have indoor racks where this form of food preservation continues in the dryness of our wood-warmed accommodations. Because such drying requires no imported energy and preserves much nutritional content, we are interested in finding more foods that can be preserved this way for winter use.
There is also an excavation for building an underground root cellar. When this rises to the top of the to-do list, we will be able to store quantities of easily grown carrots, beets, potatoes and other vegetables as well as apples and pears. Above the root cellar will be a small wooden building for dry storage and guest accommodation.
Last fall we completed the project of clearing an area for a large water reservoir. The pond was dug just before the Fall rains started.
Full by Winter Solstice the pond enabled a number of skating parties before the snow got ahead of us. Now, tobogganing down the pile of excavated material provides winter entertainment. We are looking forward to being able to cool down in the water when it gets hot in the Summer.
We have a fully-equipped woodworking shop, which has long been a source of income and now enables making many of the things needed for this eco-village project.
We also have a small flock of chickens.
DIY and building projects
Creating/ Cooking family meals
Help with Eco Projects
Cultural evolution is the interest underlying everything we do here. How might the human family shift from its growth phase to a stable balance with the Earth?
For more than forty years I have studied, discussed, written about and toured with the message of sustainability.
From early on it has been obvious that the human family had grown to touch the limits of our planet. With that understanding, it is a big concern that practically all governments, world-wide, seek continuous growth. Growing is for children and for young species. Once the habitat is full, further growth leads to trouble. Many species starve, others are cut back by predators, large and tiny.
We like to think that humans are smart enough to recognize our maturity as a species and to set our collective sights on finding a balance within the carrying capacity of the places where we live and on the Earth as a whole.
We aim to further the understanding of how this shift from growth to sustainability might be accomplished.
The project aims to demonstrate what we can, and to serve as a meeting place for discussing further possibilities. We aim to stimulate imagination and sharing around further steps toward a sustainable future.
Topics for Discussion include: Biological life cycles, Systems of mutual provision (economics), The nature of money and alternatives, Cultural evolution (how change happens in society), Magic, Meditation and more
Any ideas from your own perspective on our changing world and from our forty year study of cultural evolution can be topics for discussion during and after work. There are a dozen key messages which, if volunteers want, are offered while they stay here.
Much of what we have to do is seasonal and can be learned easily.
Getting the gardens started is top priority in the Spring
Building raised beds with temporary greenhouse potential.
Flats of seedlings are started the appropriate number of weeks before the danger of frost is ended. (End of frost in this area is traditionally thought to be May 24.)
Pruning fruit trees before the end of winter and grafting on apple and pear trees when the sap starts to flow.
Straightening garden fence posts and reactivating the electric fence strung on them. The many deer in the area love garden vegetables.
Preparing garden beds once the ground thaws.
Seeding frost hardy plants.
After the danger of frost is past, transplanting seedlings and other frost sensitive seeds is in order.
Cultivation and care of garden plants is a part time activity throughout Summer.
Some wild food gathering.
Harvesting, drying and otherwise preserving garden produce as it ripens and at the end of the season.
When the days are above freezing and the nights below, maple sap flows up and down the trees. By tapping that flow and boiling it down, a sweet syrup is produced.
Collecting dead wood and wood from earlier clearing.
cutting it to stove lengths
piling it in two covered sheds.
For quality firewood, it is best for it all to be in the wood-sheds by the end of June so that it dries further through the hot summer months.
Other projects will, to some extent, depend on the interests of visitors.
Trails and open forest
There are numerous trails across the land that need to be kept open and many others that have yet to be identified and opened.
Also, in the forested areas in the active zone, clearing dead branches and thinking to encourage favoured tree renders the area park-like and easy to walk through.
Milling lumber and building
Activating our bandsaw mill.
Milling logs from pond clearing
Selectively harvesting enough other trees to make the balance of the lumber needed to frame one or another of these small scale structures.
Bath house and solar shower.
Green house building
Pouring a concrete footing and laying cement block walls. Then pouring a vaulted ceiling to support a layer of ground for insulation. A small wooden structure will be built above for dry storage and additional visitor accommodation.
Solar Water Pump
Connecting solar panels to a water pump for campers, additional gardens, the bath house and topping up the pond in hot weather.
Feeding, egg collection and coup clean-out
Expanding chicken run
We have several sorts of accommodation. All have access to showers, a washing machine, indoor and out door kitchens
Camping: there is abundant land where tents can be set up.
A small trailer with a wood heater
A 20 ft diameter yurt with a wood heater. The yurt is sometimes rented out as a B&B.
Bedrooms in the house.
Managing food in the Summer Kitchen will be a collective effort, to be worked out with the people who come.
More fun, less stuff has been a goal throughout my life. We should get so much satisfaction from living that we don’t have time to consume and pollute on a dangerous level.
This property is a large expanse of mixed forest, rock outcroppings and a few open fields. It is surrounded by more of the same on all sides. We back on the Mississippi River and are close to the Clyde River. There are numerous lakes in the area.
We are always keen to welcome visitors and to share our stories of a sustainable future. Help with building up this project to provide a glimpse into the possibilities is always welcome. While we have only a start of what is possible, the vision is well developed. My mother told me “Keep your eyes on the stars and do what's possible.”
By making friends while working on the vision, we can extend what is possible, here and wherever our guests return to after their visits. We like to stay in touch, where interest continues, to keep ideas flowing and for whatever advantage coordinated actions might serve.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Can host families
More than two
Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week
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