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Ecocamp Project in Upper Midwest, USP

 
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Location: Wisconsin
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Hello. I’ve had a notion for a project that has been driving me for a while. It is obviously more ambitious than what normal people would take on, so curious to see if others here think it would be worth exploring together further.

I’m looking to purchase a fair chunk of land in Northern Wisconsin or the UP and set up a living situation that would house a healthy community that would in turn act as stewards for the surrounding environment. We would seek group cohesion and functionality while maintaining a light footprint. Lots of ideas have occurred to me, but I am working to present just the most basic concepts and leave details to be worked out with others if there are enough willing to commit to making it happen.

The site would have one compact ‘bright green’ headquarters (-thirds?) near the road entrance. This would be common space for everyone to work in tight coordination on group necessities, particularly greenhouse space to produce as much food as is practical. This could be on grid, where vehicles would be kept, include minimal sleeping and cooking space, and where any more ambitious ‘lab’ type activity would happen.

Surrounding this would be a low-tech ‘detox’ area that would aspire to be the main living space. Definitely off grid, hopefully no electricity or complex technology brought in from outside. There would be another central common building here for cooking and eating/meeting. Around that would be space for what outdoor farming could be done in the clime and individual or shared housing. Construction would be geared toward permaculture and hopefully not involve much if any brought in materials or equipment beyond simple tools.

The remaining bulk of the property would be kept free of heavy structures and agriculture. Between this and the detox zone there would be some sort of husp-type situation as I understand the concept from catching up on reading here, leaving a large space for nature to take it’s course around the minimalist structures.

I’m thinking this would work in coordination with a similar set up in another location with a warmer climate to allow seasonal migration for a core group. Or even a third site if there was reason for most to work on other seasonal projects. Along with permaculture goals for building any infrastructure, there would be an emphasis on group dynamics, finding people that will work to build something greater than the sum of their parts, to have a core that maintains critical mass. This is where planning out details becomes near impossible, so just looking to see how many folx care to explore these ideas further.

I’m more than willing to travel to nearby states and meet in person in the immediate future. Ideally I would make the land purchase in the next few months and have something put up to be there through next winter, so looking to move forward as quickly as makes sense. If you have local knowledge on land or regional laws/prejudices that could affect planning, I'm particularly seeking that kind of advice.
 
Coydon Wallham
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Didn't mean to focus so much on technical details. Suffice to say I have resources and a direction I am heading with them. More important at this point is to develop some understanding of what kind of community would grow around this and some basic principles.

[Please excuse the following gross oversimplification of other people’s lifestyles. For discussion they are made to sound black and white but in reality are shades of grey. It is difficult to broach this topic and not be overly judgemental. Perceptions are limited and sharing our flawed understanding with others lets us live as more than isolated individuals, even if we never perfect that understanding.]

I’ve noticed two extremes when it comes to ‘alternative’ approaches to community. Housing co-ops in urban areas lack a sense of investment and prolonged community. On the other hand, many homesteaders I’ve read about have been individuals or individual couples looking for a type of ‘retirement’ lifestyle, cut off as much as socially/economically possible from other individuals. There are certainly plenty of people in the world today that benefit from either situation, perhaps who engage in them in sequential stages. Seems to me there should be something in between those scenarios that offers more than money obsessed consumerism. Well, more of that something at least.

So is there already general discussion along these lines here? As much as I like the overall design of these forums, the threads are not as clearly organized as I’m used to, so apologies if I’ve missed something in this last month of reading. Seems community organization like this is handled pretty piecemeal.

At this point I’d say my central focus is on health. Health that comes from living right more so than from following a specific diet, having an ‘exercise’ schedule, taking the right ‘pills’, or keeping appointments with a councilor. In my experience healthy people are much more likely to deal with the pitfalls that typically beleaguer social groups, and people intent on suffering from self induced problems make social barriers monolithic.

The best I’ve ever felt about life was eating paleo, not because it sounds badass but because I wasn’t surrounded by people pushing hoards of processed crap at me. I like to "exercise" to accomplish useful tasks, and the less well-oiled machines around the better this feels. All this together with being surrounded by people who aren’t living in their cars shoving Slurm and McBurgers in their face adds up to mental health that comes from interaction with those people rather than with a friend-for-hire or a self-help book.
 
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Hi Coydon,
There is a small group of us in the Mpls/St. Paul area who are interested in talking to you more about your ideas.  Since I'm new to this site, I don't know if this is going to post on the site or is behind the scenes.  I am wondering if there is a way to be able to chat about this offline?
 
Posts: 7
Location: Michigan
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I like your ideas!

I myself has always wanted to do something more ambitious but it's hard to find others who believe they can pull something like that off!  I think it's important for there to be people out there doing bigger projects to help accelerate the change!

Myself and a couple friends would probably be very interested in what you are doing and we are from the Grand Rapids, Michigan area.  We are planning on traveling and living on the road starting in about a month so there is a good chance that we can come and help out on your project(s) at some point and share any types of info or knowledge and good food and resources we might have!  Good luck to you!

 
Coydon Wallham
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Evan Stowers wrote:I like your ideas!

I myself has always wanted to do something more ambitious but it's hard to find others who believe they can pull something like that off!  I think it's important for there to be people out there doing bigger projects to help accelerate the change!

Myself and a couple friends would probably be very interested in what you are doing and we are from the Grand Rapids, Michigan area.  We are planning on traveling and living on the road starting in about a month so there is a good chance that we can come and help out on your project(s) at some point and share any types of info or knowledge and good food and resources we might have!  Good luck to you!


Ideally I would have the land in about a month and be starting to evaluate it for plans, but being ready to jump into straight labor at that point seems like a stretch, unless I find a good parcel that has an obvious spot for a wofati and y’all want to do a bunch of digging. I suppose prepping logs would be an early helpful step, have to look into acquiring the tools for that. If anyone has experience landscaping/homesteading with a permaculture mindset, might also be nice to stick a few stakes in the ground and discuss sand castle possibilities. Regardless if you just want a place to set up camp for a while, I'm guessing that would work too. How long do you think you’ll be around the area?

I feel like I could do a daily blog in this thread about things I am researching, why it should be done, how I am going about stuff, what kind of people I think would fit, etc., but don’t want to bog down with details at this point. I’m trying to distill ideas down to more universal elements. Even with that limit in mind things have been picking up in recent weeks and I’m not finding time to write much.

I’ve been talking with various people about what would make a group situation like this work and some points continue to clarify little by little. One major hurdle is placing an emphasis on direct oral communication. In the end that is what determines if a group actually works, and trying to screen for this through writing or even video recordings is paradoxical. Any time I start to write ‘this is what will work’ or ‘that is what won’t work’, I feel like I need to add ten more lines that start with ‘unless...’

The dailyish email that Paul sent out yesterday resonated with many of my goals, around the idea of how non-profit organizations seem to end up producing more profits and accomplishing less toward their claimed goals than people just doing stuff. I’ve been involved recently with an outdoor school in the area that is known for their survivalist program. At the risk of trivializing the life changing experience that is immersion in a program like they offer, one takeaway I’ve had is that, as useful as it is to know how to start a fire with stuff you find on a forest floor and how to forage enough calories to keep yourself moving, the key survival skill just might be developing sincere and supportive connections with others around you to produce something that matters to the entire group. Finding a way to make that last would amount to prosperity. It seems most of us have lost the ability to value such bonds significantly. Easy money and instant gratification are just so much sexier.

I’m looking for a few other human beings that just want to do stuff the right way, to live a fulfilling life in nature and not stress out about how to force the rest of the world to fit into some massively detailed plan. Political parties and NGOs that try to 'save nature' don’t seem to end up accomplishing much more than feeding the propoganda of their declared opposition. These entities are all building blocks that would be beneficial to learn to deal with in some shape or fashion, but I’m not holding my breath that I’m going to get to Utopia on a Tuesday any time soon. This site is a treasure trove of things we can do for real in our own lives to make things better, so I’ll be looking to connect with others who are headed along the same path.

And I’ll probably be rewriting the ‘goals’ of this "ecocamp" project every few weeks here so that I might eventually figure out exactly what the hell it is that I am doing...
 
Evan Stowers
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Coydon Wallham wrote:

Evan Stowers wrote:I like your ideas!

I myself has always wanted to do something more ambitious but it's hard to find others who believe they can pull something like that off!  I think it's important for there to be people out there doing bigger projects to help accelerate the change!

Myself and a couple friends would probably be very interested in what you are doing and we are from the Grand Rapids, Michigan area.  We are planning on traveling and living on the road starting in about a month so there is a good chance that we can come and help out on your project(s) at some point and share any types of info or knowledge and good food and resources we might have!  Good luck to you!


Ideally I would have the land in about a month and be starting to evaluate it for plans, but being ready to jump into straight labor at that point seems like a stretch, unless I find a good parcel that has an obvious spot for a wofati and y’all want to do a bunch of digging. I suppose prepping logs would be an early helpful step, have to look into acquiring the tools for that. If anyone has experience landscaping/homesteading with a permaculture mindset, might also be nice to stick a few stakes in the ground and discuss sand castle possibilities. Regardless if you just want a place to set up camp for a while, I'm guessing that would work too. How long do you think you’ll be around the area?

I feel like I could do a daily blog in this thread about things I am researching, why it should be done, how I am going about stuff, what kind of people I think would fit, etc., but don’t want to bog down with details at this point. I’m trying to distill ideas down to more universal elements. Even with that limit in mind things have been picking up in recent weeks and I’m not finding time to write much.

I’ve been talking with various people about what would make a group situation like this work and some points continue to clarify little by little. One major hurdle is placing an emphasis on direct oral communication. In the end that is what determines if a group actually works, and trying to screen for this through writing or even video recordings is paradoxical. Any time I start to write ‘this is what will work’ or ‘that is what won’t work’, I feel like I need to add ten more lines that start with ‘unless...’

The dailyish email that Paul sent out yesterday resonated with many of my goals, around the idea of how non-profit organizations seem to end up producing more profits and accomplishing less toward their claimed goals than people just doing stuff. I’ve been involved recently with an outdoor school in the area that is known for their survivalist program. At the risk of trivializing the life changing experience that is immersion in a program like they offer, one takeaway I’ve had is that, as useful as it is to know how to start a fire with stuff you find on a forest floor and how to forage enough calories to keep yourself moving, the key survival skill just might be developing sincere and supportive connections with others around you to produce something that matters to the entire group. Finding a way to make that last would amount to prosperity. It seems most of us have lost the ability to value such bonds significantly. Easy money and instant gratification are just so much sexier.

I’m looking for a few other human beings that just want to do stuff the right way, to live a fulfilling life in nature and not stress out about how to force the rest of the world to fit into some massively detailed plan. Political parties and NGOs that try to 'save nature' don’t seem to end up accomplishing much more than feeding the propoganda of their declared opposition. These entities are all building blocks that would be beneficial to learn to deal with in some shape or fashion, but I’m not holding my breath that I’m going to get to Utopia on a Tuesday any time soon. This site is a treasure trove of things we can do for real in our own lives to make things better, so I’ll be looking to connect with others who are headed along the same path.

And I’ll probably be rewriting the ‘goals’ of this "ecocamp" project every few weeks here so that I might eventually figure out exactly what the hell it is that I am doing...



So true everything you said.  Connections and being able to build connections with other people are the real roots from which can grow human life.  That's the foundation of everything!  

I like where it sounds like your mind is at and I'm happy to hear about it.  Not really certain as to when we would be making our way all the way up to your area of interest but I am certainly going to keep you in my mind and in my heart and hopefully I can do some things to help ya out at some point.  At least you know I'll usually be around the lower peninsula and if you happen to be there your always welcome to whatever it is that I can offer at the time, even if it's just company.  

I appreciate what you're going for there!  I honestly would love to just camp out some time, but for now, I'll wait and see how things roll out for the both of us.  I'll keep an eye out for ya, Take care!    
 
Coydon Wallham
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Evan Stowers wrote:So true everything you said.  Connections and being able to build connections with other people are the real roots from which can grow human life.  That's the foundation of everything!  

I like where it sounds like your mind is at and I'm happy to hear about it.  Not really certain as to when we would be making our way all the way up to your area of interest but I am certainly going to keep you in my mind and in my heart and hopefully I can do some things to help ya out at some point.  At least you know I'll usually be around the lower peninsula and if you happen to be there your always welcome to whatever it is that I can offer at the time, even if it's just company.  

I appreciate what you're going for there!  I honestly would love to just camp out some time, but for now, I'll wait and see how things roll out for the both of us.  I'll keep an eye out for ya, Take care!    


I'd be interested to hear about your group and your journey. If you care to share, probably PM me if it isn't something you'd want to start a thread about.

Also, if you happen to know of anyone selling a solid used 4x4 that is manual and has towing capacity in your area, I might use it as an excuse to make a trip that way.
 
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Hi! I’m in northern Wisconsin and happy to collaborate and come out to help out on certain projects when you get your land. I’m all about the community connections in the area and since I just moved here (to my grandparents land so I did spend childhood summers here) I’d love to get to know other people passionate about permaculture and community projects.
Personally I’m really into the therapeutic aspects of working with plants and living close to nature.
I’m also happy to help you look for land, I enjoy exploring and looking at pros and cons of properties.
Send me an email if you want: Nahannii@regenerative-mindcare.com
 
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I'm in Northern WI as well.  I am rather settled but I like the idea and wish for creative solutions like this to be everywhere.  

As for some regional advice, land tends to get cheaper the farther you get from the cities and jobs.  Being close to hardware stores is really nice.  If I had to choose between northern WI and the UP I'm not sure I have the data to suggest which is better.  Building codes might be worth looking into for any area you're considering.  

Having access to a lake/river/stream would be very nice.

Some excellent fall/winter/spring things to keep people on site are wild rice harvesting, ice fishing, firewood cutting and maple syrup.

By any chance is the outdoor school you mentioned run by Tamarack?  I was going to suggest checking them out.  I haven't visited them yet but they seemed related.
 
Coydon Wallham
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Nahannii Lukesh wrote:Hi! I’m in northern Wisconsin and happy to collaborate and come out to help out on certain projects when you get your land. I’m all about the community connections in the area and since I just moved here (to my grandparents land so I did spend childhood summers here) I’d love to get to know other people passionate about permaculture and community projects.
Personally I’m really into the therapeutic aspects of working with plants and living close to nature.
I’m also happy to help you look for land, I enjoy exploring and looking at pros and cons of properties.
Send me an email if you want: Nahannii@regenerative-mindcare.com


Hi Nahannii. Plans are shaping up and I'm nearing a decision on some land. It looks like the project there would in large part be about returning a conifer plantation to a more diverse northern mixed forest, but would leave 5 acres to explore natural building and various ways to produce food up nord.

The question of community involvement is still pretty wide open. Minimizing monetary exchanges is a goal that has received support in some preliminary discussion. It looks like I would play the (hopefully) benevolent dictator until something better forms that can overthrow my tyrannical regime. The default at this point would be to have people show up when I am there and to see what develops on the spot, basically an unstructured summer camp. I'm sure I could structure something also if someone knew more of what they were looking for in advance.

My plans would be to start working there end of May or early June. Harvesting timber and building simple structures will be the priority, but any start on the food forest area that can be made off the bat would be similarly important. I've spent a decade on basic small to medium gardening based on the square foot method and organic exploration and helped with a medium organic CSA, but structured permaculture is completely new to me.

I imagine nature therapy can take endless forms, but you might be interested to look into the Healing Nature Center in Three Lakes. I've enjoyed the forest bathing there a few times. They are associated with the outdoor skills school I am working with.

I intend to start a thread about land purchase prospects if I can find a spare hour here or there soon. I'll be sure to link to it from this thread.
 
Coydon Wallham
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Mike Haasl wrote:I'm in Northern WI as well.  I am rather settled but I like the idea and wish for creative solutions like this to be everywhere.  

As for some regional advice, land tends to get cheaper the farther you get from the cities and jobs.  Being close to hardware stores is really nice.  If I had to choose between northern WI and the UP I'm not sure I have the data to suggest which is better.  Building codes might be worth looking into for any area you're considering.  

Having access to a lake/river/stream would be very nice.

Some excellent fall/winter/spring things to keep people on site are wild rice harvesting, ice fishing, firewood cutting and maple syrup.

By any chance is the outdoor school you mentioned run by Tamarack?  I was going to suggest checking them out.  I haven't visited them yet but they seemed related.


Yes, I'm working with Tamarack, though the school now operates as a circle of instructors/staff. Tamarack must be one of the most resourceful people I have ever met. I've considered living at the school, but have a few parallel ideas I'd like to explore with this 'ecocamp' notion and feel it needs it's own space. The members of the school have been supportive of the idea so far.

The parcels I'm looking at are on or very near the Peshtigo, so prime fishing/canoeing/etc will be in the back yard. There seems to be enough downed wood around to keep a few rocket mass heaters fed for a while, depending on how much The Duke has over hyped them and how my construction skills turn out. I've had hand harvested Manoomin and syrup made with friends as elements in my diet for a few years now. Ice fishing has personally been limited to a DNR class, and would depend on whether winter was spent at this camp or not.

BTW, not sure if anyone else would be interested but Teaching Drum is offering a Wilderness First Responder course in a couple of weeks: https://www.longleafmedical.com/wfr-may2021-three-lakes.html. I'm more focused on 'alternative medicine' for most aspects of health, but if there's one thing I trust Western Medicine for it is dealing with acute injuries, so I'll get my boy scout badge for this one...
 
Mike Haasl
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Peshtigo should be a decent location relative to outside work and stores (GB or Marinette are reasonably close).  I think the success of the RMHs depends extensively on the structure it's going in (for our climate).  Small and open concept and you're good to go.  Drafty and you're totally screwed.

Returning a conifer plantation to deciduous is admirable but it will take a long time.  There's often clear cut or selectively cut land that's available pretty affordably that might get you closer to your desired end game.  I passed on 120 acres of mostly clear cut land 5 miles north of Marinette with a stream running through it and power at the blacktop road for $95k about a decade ago.

If you're worried about getting enough firewood, don't worry too much.  If you get to know your neighbors or you keep an eye out for wood at the side of the road, you can likely satisfy a few RMHs without needing many trees of your own.  I probably get a cord or two of wood a year from neighbors within a mile who don't heat with wood themselves.  Pine is often just sitting around and the landowners are hoping it will get taken by anybody.  Or watch craigslist.

You might still want to check into local regulations, building codes, etc for your potential location.  It would suck to buy a place and have regulations that keep you from building what you want.

Good luck Coydon!
 
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Coydon,

Thanks for sharing your plans. I'm in northern WI, and have ruminated on similar plans for too long, and have experience "living the dream" with inspiring mentors showing the way(s). I'm equipped with skills, experience, an enormous library, a healthy body with excellent endurance, and some capital to contribute to worthy projects. I'd love to collaborate. PM me to exchange info. Best of luck moving forward in the meantime, and I'll look forward to meeting!

 
Coydon Wallham
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Mike Haasl wrote:Peshtigo should be a decent location relative to outside work and stores (GB or Marinette are reasonably close).  I think the success of the RMHs depends extensively on the structure it's going in (for our climate).  Small and open concept and you're good to go.  Drafty and you're totally screwed.

Returning a conifer plantation to deciduous is admirable but it will take a long time.  There's often clear cut or selectively cut land that's available pretty affordably that might get you closer to your desired end game.  I passed on 120 acres of mostly clear cut land 5 miles north of Marinette with a stream running through it and power at the blacktop road for $95k about a decade ago.

If you're worried about getting enough firewood, don't worry too much.  If you get to know your neighbors or you keep an eye out for wood at the side of the road, you can likely satisfy a few RMHs without needing many trees of your own.  I probably get a cord or two of wood a year from neighbors within a mile who don't heat with wood themselves.  Pine is often just sitting around and the landowners are hoping it will get taken by anybody.  Or watch craigslist.

You might still want to check into local regulations, building codes, etc for your potential location.  It would suck to buy a place and have regulations that keep you from building what you want.


This is quite a bit upstream from the city, but the river is still plenty wide here and when we looked it up it was rated as a top trout fishing area. I'm not sure how far from population centers you can actually get in Wisconsin, but the need to plan and stack trips for supplies is something I'm actually looking forward to. Taking the supply chain for granted is a problem I welcome every chance to challenge and minimize.

The parcel I'm favoring has a recently clear cut area that should work good for starting a food forest with minimal inputs. Did a soil test and the top layer looks rich with plenty of sand for drainage beneath. The mature trees in plantation rows elsewhere would be an ongoing project to harvest and supply roundwood timbers for building with, as well as dimensional lumber with a portable mill. I've listened to a few of Paul's podcasts on forests and acquiring land and didn't encounter anything here that would raise a red flag based on his priorities, beyond the desire to recover the conifer desert. Despite the monoculture implications, I kind of like the massive, open, needle-carpeted environment under a relatively complete canopy, so no hurry on the recovery aspect, but any work done would at least be improving diversity there.

I've looked at township, county, and state regulations and nothing has jumped out as a barrier to the natural building techniques I've been looking into. I'm discussing the Managed Forest Law program with a DNR agent, but it was recommended to forgo the minor tax savings and just do the management ourselves. I'm talking with a local real estate agent that was recommended to hopefully catch any peripheral issues that might pop up.

From the pictures I've seen posted here, I'd like to stop by and check out your greenhouse some time if that would work...
 
Mike Haasl
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The building code they enforce (or don't enforce?) may be the biggest limitation.  I built a cabin near Amberg (north of Peshtigo) and still had to deal with minimum structure sizes, full inspections and code.

I'm a bit busy with the kickstarter at the moment but maybe in the fall you could check out the greenhouse.

I'm glad you have some clear cut.  I was imagining just a big plantation.  Good for building material but not much variety.
 
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Coydon, I like the ideas I saw you express. I do value seeking to live off-grid and moving to more low tech living, and not being as dependent on use of electricity, for sustainability I see being needed in living. I try being sustainable in my choices in other ways too. Growing things for what is needed, and doing some foraging, is very valuable in that. So, you do have ideas for other locations besides Wisconsin or the upper peninsula? I remember in my early years when a little boy living in Wisconsin, just in that time of my life. There were enjoyable seasons. But I never forgot the bitter cold winters there and snow piling up so high, and lakes completely frozen over. I want year round farming for food and materials, and any foraging possible, in natural surroundings. In that northerly area greenhouses would really be needed, if they can be adequate for that. If they are, this could interest me. I would like hearing more from you, as you consider things like those things interesting me.
 
Coydon Wallham
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Mike Haasl wrote:The building code they enforce (or don't enforce?) may be the biggest limitation.  I built a cabin near Amberg (north of Peshtigo) and still had to deal with minimum structure sizes, full inspections and code.

I'm a bit busy with the kickstarter at the moment but maybe in the fall you could check out the greenhouse.

I'm glad you have some clear cut.  I was imagining just a big plantation.  Good for building material but not much variety.


Mixed blessing then that the kickstarter is keeping you busy (from a selfish viewpoint).

There are multiple properties in the area I'm looking. Another promising one has more diverse tree growth already and is right on a bend in the river, but has no clearings to start with. Despite more mixed growth and stuff like wild leeks growing there, the soil in the area that would be zone 0/1 wasn't as rich as the other either, and had less topography to work with. Both have a predominantly south facing slope though.
 
Coydon Wallham
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Fred Frank V Bur wrote:Coydon, I like the ideas I saw you express. I do value seeking to live off-grid and moving to more low tech living, and not being as dependent on use of electricity, for sustainability I see being needed in living. I try being sustainable in my choices in other ways too. Growing things for what is needed, and doing some foraging, is very valuable in that. So, you do have ideas for other locations besides Wisconsin or the upper peninsula? I remember in my early years when a little boy living in Wisconsin, just in that time of my life. There were enjoyable seasons. But I never forgot the bitter cold winters there and snow piling up so high, and lakes completely frozen over. I want year round farming for food and materials, and any foraging possible, in natural surroundings. In that northerly area greenhouses would really be needed, if they can be adequate for that. If they are, this could interest me. I would like hearing more from you, as you consider things like those things interesting me.


Nothing is planned for other specific properties. The central idea is to make minimal monetary investment in the infrastructure here, to keep construction natural and DIY, buildings that could easily be duplicated or repaired after periodic abandonment or some sort of disaster. There have been hints that some people interested would want to bring money to the project and my thought is that should go more toward finding property somewhere with a complementary climate for semi-nomadic migration (though I could see developing something else in the vicinity also). Right now I'm evaluating prospects of connecting the 'bright green' area to the electric utility vs. how much to invest in solar off the bat. I'm figuring that might be the only significant monetary investment besides the land purchase, or perhaps community vehicles if traveling that way makes sense.

However, given the manpower, skill, and time, I'm planning a sizeable community building that would integrate a greenhouse on the south face. The first few years could involve plastic hoop houses, row cover, cold frames, etc. Opting for external, more artificially sourced inputs to infrastructure like this would have to be weighed against the prospect of driving to buy veggies grown elsewhere, along with ethical and health concerns of a diet heavy on beef and dairy that is the more "traditional" low tech solution.
 
Coydon Wallham
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Mike Haasl wrote:If you're worried about getting enough firewood, don't worry too much.  If you get to know your neighbors or you keep an eye out for wood at the side of the road, you can likely satisfy a few RMHs without needing many trees of your own.  I probably get a cord or two of wood a year from neighbors within a mile who don't heat with wood themselves.  Pine is often just sitting around and the landowners are hoping it will get taken by anybody.  Or watch craigslist.


Coming from a wood stove background I've avoided burning pine like the plague. Does the complete burn aspect of RMHs eliminate this concern?

I also wanted to mention I'm considering upping my kickstarter lever, so wondering if you've considered offering a guided tour of your greenhouse as a stretch goal...?
 
Mike Haasl
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Well...  I burn pine all the time in my wood stove.  All the info I've read on the subject seems to suggest that if your chimney is cleaned routinely and the pine is properly seasoned, you can burn it just fine.  I think many of the chimney fire stories come from people letting the creosote build up and then they put in some pine and get a hot fire going and they ignite the creosote causing a chimney fire.

Plus there are lots of places way up north where I think all they have to burn is pine.

As I understand it, at Wheaton Labs they only burn conifer in their RMHs .

I've considered what I could offer as a stretch goal but I couldn't come up with anything of proper value to a broad enough segment of the kickstarter audience to bring in more support...
 
Fred Frank V Bur
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Coydon Wallham wrote:

Fred Frank V Bur wrote:Coydon, I like the ideas I saw you express. I do value seeking to live off-grid and moving to more low tech living, and not being as dependent on use of electricity, for sustainability I see being needed in living. I try being sustainable in my choices in other ways too. Growing things for what is needed, and doing some foraging, is very valuable in that. So, you do have ideas for other locations besides Wisconsin or the upper peninsula? I remember in my early years when a little boy living in Wisconsin, just in that time of my life. There were enjoyable seasons. But I never forgot the bitter cold winters there and snow piling up so high, and lakes completely frozen over. I want year round farming for food and materials, and any foraging possible, in natural surroundings. In that northerly area greenhouses would really be needed, if they can be adequate for that. If they are, this could interest me. I would like hearing more from you, as you consider things like those things interesting me.


Nothing is planned for other specific properties. The central idea is to make minimal monetary investment in the infrastructure here, to keep construction natural and DIY, buildings that could easily be duplicated or repaired after periodic abandonment or some sort of disaster. There have been hints that some people interested would want to bring money to the project and my thought is that should go more toward finding property somewhere with a complementary climate for semi-nomadic migration (though I could see developing something else in the vicinity also). Right now I'm evaluating prospects of connecting the 'bright green' area to the electric utility vs. how much to invest in solar off the bat. I'm figuring that might be the only significant monetary investment besides the land purchase, or perhaps community vehicles if traveling that way makes sense.

However, given the manpower, skill, and time, I'm planning a sizeable community building that would integrate a greenhouse on the south face. The first few years could involve plastic hoop houses, row cover, cold frames, etc. Opting for external, more artificially sourced inputs to infrastructure like this would have to be weighed against the prospect of driving to buy veggies grown elsewhere, along with ethical and health concerns of a diet heavy on beef and dairy that is the more "traditional" low tech solution.



I would gladly work at having things growing for what is needed, as I am quite able though really not young any more. I for one will not take part in demand for meat and dairy, certainly ethical and health concerns are involved in that. Sustainable ways are a large concern I am seeing. I would have a huge variety of what we can have growing, that I really want to be a part of. I wish there were opportunities I could easily see for coming to anything like that when much younger. I only saw my need for such change in recent years and only had this kind of online access not fully a decade ago. When I manage to reach any of this to a good extent I want to make the effort to depend on electricity as little as possible, and I know people used to do well without any, for a very long time. There are other ways for having things like light and heat.
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