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Family builds their own private ecovillage with free materials

•, Kirsten Dirksen

Steel beams from a dismantled Lockheed factory frame the main structure; old surfboards from Patagonia are insulation; dozens of pieces of marble form a countertop; and broken concrete has become stairs and pathways.

The family of four began living in a trailer on the land until they had at a small room ready for a bunkbed and the kids. Each additional room was built as an individual unit so slowly a compound of rooms began to grow. Next came an office for Janine who worked from home in sales. And finally the main room, a near polygon, was finished with 10 foot ceilings, an open kitchen/living room, and a lofted bedroom.

After two wells went dry the family begin living off rainwater. All the rooftops collect rain which is then pumped up the mountain into holding tanks. Cameron laid tubing all the way up to mountainside so that there would be sufficient drop and pressure to power fire sprinklers.

Their daughter dubbed them "Pioneers of the Modern Era" and Cameron laid cable to electrify their home, but they use a very basic composting toilet. Their double barrel system takes about two years to fill up (one side) after which they switch to the other barrel and let the full one sit for two and a half years to remove any pathogens. 

Cameron built a solar-powered hot tub out of an industrial mixing bowl and holding tanks across the property for rainwater one of which became a skate park. There is plenty of water for their indoor and outdoor showers and outdoor bathtub, as well as to water their fruit orchard.