Building An Earthship In Darfield, B.C.

We are a family of five living in Darfield, BC.
Our house is six hundred square feet in total and we are feeling cramped.

We have decided to build an earthship!

So starts the adventure ...

Friday, November 20, 2009

Katie's take on Vancouver Island

Are we there yet?

As many of you might know, my family is building an Earthship. For those of you who don’t know, an Earthship is a sustainable house made out of tires and pop cans. My trip to Vancouver Island revolved a little bit around sustainable living.

After school on Tuesday November 10, 2009, my parents picked my siblings and me up for a very long, boring five hour drive to Vancouver, were we would

spend the night at my Uncle Tom’s place.

When we got there we played video games for about an hour. We don’t have video games in our house!

The next morning we left before Uncle Tom and Aunt Stephanie were even up, thus ensuring we got on the ferry. When we got our tickets we we were faced with an hour wait in the car. Since I didn’t want to read, I got out and took some pictures. When we finally got on the ferry, we went out on the deck where my dad pretended to throw me over board, pretended to jump over board and actually managed to stand still for a normal picture.

The ship was huge. It had a restaurant, a café, gift shop and arcade as well as seats, a good thing too, seeing as it was a two hour ride. After the ferry ride we headed for O.U.R Ecovillage, O.U.R stands for One United Resource.

When we got there, Javin, the person giving us the tour was in a meeting. We had some time to kill, so we looked around the gardens, we saw all kinds of things, ducks, turkeys, chickens, geese and pigs named Wednesday and Tuesday. When I first saw the pigs, I thought they were dead, but upon further inspection,

saw that they were just laying very still, they

were not actually deceased.

My favorite part of the tour was when they showed us the composting toilets which they called the “Credit Union” where you could make “deposits” of “black gold.” Three guesses as to what dad was most interested in, my Dad likes compost. Another name they had for “black gold” is “Humanure,” Don’t ask.

After the tour I became very tired, but I didn’t think about it much. The previous night had been late. Instead I just slept in the car during the slide show.

I did start to worry when I got a huge stomach ach

e and my head pounded, I was sick. Thank goodness there was an herbalist on site. She made me an herbal tea made up of all sorts of things but especially, yarrow!

For those of you who don’t know, O.U.R Ecovillage uses a mixture of mud, straw and sand called cob and builds houses, they’re really quite beautiful. In the mud mixture you can add all sorts of things; stones, glass and sculptures in the walls using left over cob.

We got to stay in the cob building they called the

“Healing Sanctuary”.

But no matter how cool it was I still didn’t sleep very much that night.

but in the morning I felt tons better.

That morning we left for Victoria and the provincial legislature.

We had reservations in a hostel, a very small sort of hotel. When we got there we found out we couldn’t check in until 3:00 so we parked our car and wandered around. We arrived at the legislature between tours so

we did our own!

The rest of the day we wandered around the downtown area. When we got back to the hostel. I was relieved to see everybody had

their own bed! Although that room was tiny.

That evening we met my late grandma’s childhood

friend, Lucille, who spent time with us when grandma died in 2000. We had dinner at the coolest place called Café Mexico. After dinner some people who had helped with our earthship this past summer met us for drinks.

We were pretty tired so we went back to the hostel and let Dad stay and talk.

The next morning we drove all the way back to Nanaimo to see the aquaculture program at Vancouver Island University. But there had been a screw up and we were supposed to be there the previous day but they couldn’t get a hold of us so we re-scheduled for Saturday.

On Friday night Dad checked us into a hotel with a suite and that night we went swimming in this really cool pool. It had two waterslides, a really fast river and they turned on the waves.

The next day we met with Ann McCarthy to see her aquaculture garden. An aquaculture system starts with fish, in this case tilapia. The fish’s waste (high nitrogen) flows through pipes to a garden area where the roots of plants are hanging in the water. The plants take the nitrogen rich waste and use it to grow.

We hope to have a system like this in the earthship. Dad wants to feed the fish our composting worms, have the fish waste feed our indoor garden. Then the waste from our fruit and vegetables will be fed to the worms. Then we have a closed feeding loop!

On the way out of the greenhouse, Ann offered to show us some 6 foot long sturgeon. Wow! These fish can grow up to 1800 lbs and 19 feet and live for 150 years. The university raises them for basic research on feeding.

After the sturgeon we went to see the Wileys in their earthship. I’ve included some pictures!

Saturday and Sunday we visited the Robinsons. Kim and Curt and their 4 small children came and helped us this summer, too. This family sold their home on Vancouver Island 18 months ago, bought an RV and had been traveling and living in that until late this last summer when they bought property near Duncan. They are planning on building a cob house and we will help them.

On Monday we headed back towards Victoria and saw Ann and Gord Baird who just finished their cob house. Their house is fully sustainable and is very cool. They use the same systems we plan on using: composting toilets, greywater recovery, solar power and solar hot water.

After the Bairds, we headed home. It was raining very hard but we missed most of the flooding. I was very glad to be back, despite the fact I was sick again!

I hope you learned about sustainable living because I sure did!

1 comment:

Nancy Newton said...

Hi Katie!
What a great story about your trip! The pictures are great. The pigs do look like they are dead...glad to hear that they weren't. The toilets would be something interesting but I think I would be more interested in growing the plants in the fish water...that is pretty cool! Hopefully you weren't sick for too long.
Say hi to everyone!....miss you all!
Love Aunt Nancy