Today we spent the morning at eco-village. We started of with a cool bike ride from campus and flowed with the wind. The day was very beautiful and full of sunshine- a little windy though. We started the tour off from the Michael Havelka’s farm . This was a really inspiring tour, as it displayed many of the permaculture principles that we are learning in class. The elements such as the chicken, vegetable garden, orchards, and the pond were all in relative location to each other. There is a lot of diversity on the farm. Each aspect of the farm used permaculture principles. Another interesting part was that the farm was completely off the grid; mainly powered by solar pv, solar thermal and wind energy. The main house was built out of natural materials, and properly insulated.
Our next stop was at the eco-village. This is sub-division of the farm; located 5 minutes walk away from the Halvelka farm. This area is also completely of the grid, but is more of a housing settlement. This also is powered by pv, solar thermal and wind power.
We toured the farm and found out many interesting facts such as the wildlife and plant species. We then moved to the southwest of the eco-village, where we toured three building all made from natural and local building materials.
The first house was made of cob. This was very interesting, however, the owners regretted using this material due to its low r-value (resistance value) to the cold winters. Heat would easily escape despite the wood-burning stove.
The other house was made of clay straw bale. They encounter many problems here; the main one being rotten hay bales. The owner had to take down the walls and replace the all the straw bale.
The third house, was much larger, and relied onto the grid for power. The design was very interesting, as it consisted of wooden floor, and ceiling panels. These houses are very inexpensive, as the only cost is for the materials, which are al harvested locally. The labor is usually covered by the owner, or in some cases, the entire community get involved- and the job gets done faster.
This is the value of community- where everybody living in short distance from each other being to learn from each other. There is more of trade of skills set and knowledge rather then money and just labor.
Overall I enjoyed the tour of the eco-village. Although, I had spent a lot of time in the eco-village doing various projects, I did not know about the natural building structures.
The entire eco-village project; Havelka farm, eco-village settlement, and natural building structures, reminds me of the SCI principle of unity in diversity. In one place we can find so much diversity, and they all are connected with each other in their own way. This brings to my mind that a small community such as this one can certainly serve as a model of inspiration for other cities, states and countries to adopt.