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Sustainable Living – Is It Possible?

One of the most interesting times in any era is the turn of a century. You remember Y2K? We had all the worry about our computer systems shutting down and the world faced with technical chaos. Of course it didn’t happen. Question is, did the rumoured collapse not happen because we circumvented it or was there no difficulty in the first place? Interesting at the time and in retrospect perhaps still is interesting but it doesn’t come close to the real interesting time in this era.

Imagine, the Mayan calendar runs out in this decade, or close to it. Nostradamus predicted drastic events in the early years of this century and the soothsayers of our time are saying some natural catastrophe is going to befall us that will have an everlasting effect upon the world. Can it all be just fiction?

Then I remembered Chernobyl, Sri Lanka tsunami and the Japanese gallant fight against the sea and the possible melt down of their nuclear reactors. Where once there was a tornado or two there are now 900 a season not a hot skip and jump from where I live in North America. Floods, once rare are now common place and power outages are the normal result of our winters and sometimes new summer heat waves.

When I first read about sustainable living I was surprised to note it was far more common than I imagined. My neighbour brought his new sustainable system to my attention that impressed me so much that after very little consideration I began to implement some of his efforts into my own home and yard.

The first consideration was power, the second was water and the third waste disposal. Solar panels on two rigs were installed along with the storage system and cut in from the electrical panel. The plan was to use the new system as an emergency back system but further thought brought the idea of spreading a 12 volt system throughout the house for lights, technical equipment and entertainment media that provide their own adapters to reduce the power usage. Our home was built on an incline which made developing a Thermal System much easier than normal. By altering the South facing windows we were able to create a natural heating and cooling system within the design of the home.

Pleased with the results to date, my wife and I developed a retail outlet at roadside to sell the produce I expected to produce from the garden spots around the yard. We planted over 350 trees, numerous bushes and perennials; attractive appearance being part of the equation. Whenever possible we included fruit trees in the mix along with berry bushes. Our small garden spots were Ideal for tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, lettuce, onions, beans, various herbs. All are growing magnificently, irrigated regularly and facing the future in moveable pots. A suitable sized shed related to the number of pots you use is an excellent idea.

When selling the overproduction of produce or when operating a produce business it is wise to make use of all the local markets you can find. Lack of shipping costs reduces your expenses. Packaging becomes a minor expense by utilizing reusable containers.

A storage area for vegetables in the form of a root cellar is a great idea for protecting your winter usage and is a perfect system when added to refrigerated units set to minimum use for longer term items. The power you need to operate ancillary equipment is calculated when finalizing the overall design.

Water supply for all uses is crucial. Rain water is free. Collecting rain water can be a passive effect of the design and a simple irrigation method can cover a one acre site. Larger areas however, will require a more sophisticated method of irrigation and is covered in the commercial designs. A pond is a recommended addition if there is no natural collection or flow of water on the site. Finding a natural water source is an ideal factor.

When completed we were ready to maximise the many uses presented and make appropriate changes to our designs. Working with Earthworks, a Canadian company specializing in the production of eco – friendly designs and currently producing an Eco Village on 72 Acres in Central Ontario has given us a much wider scope when turning experience into improvements. You can visit our site, for photo’s and additional information.

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