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Help / partner / neighbor wanted in NorthWest Arizona near Grand Canyon West  RSS feed

 
Christine Baker
Posts: 62
Location: NW Arizona - high desert Joshua Tree forest
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I have an acre in the Joshua Tree desert between Lake Mead and Grand Canyon West (Skywalk). I started building the garage in 2006, but then ran out of money and converted part of the garage to 630 sqft of living area. It was actually a GOOD thing that I ran out of money because I learned about building with adobe and papercrete and I added a 5 x 24" adobe greenhouse addition and love that it never gets below 40 without any heat.

Unfortunately my acre is the worst property I could have chosen for permaculture, but when I bought it I hadn't seen Greening the Desert and thought I'd just have a 4 x 8' or so little garden and I was mostly concerned with a nice view. I HAUL my water from a community well about 1.5 miles away and I'm off the grid. For almost 4 years I had a partner and we built a 20 x 40' hoophouse, 10 x 14' greenhouse, two gardens and 3 raised beds. Unfortunately we simply did not get along anymore as he was a very quiet guy who rarely spoke and he had no interest in permaculture and spent all his free time reading about conspiracy theories and all the bad stuff that's going on. Ironically, I turned him on to it, a bumper sticker on my truck says "911 was an inside job", but I don't like to dwell on chemtrails and all the negativity - there's way too much to learn and do.

I SHARE everything I learn with as many people in my community as possible, started a "gardening" club a couple years ago, recently we added a food co-op and we have a farmstand at the local pizza joint for the co-op pickup and gardeners to sell their extra produce. All that activity was my partner's worst nightmare and he went to go truck driving in February.

I'll be 55 years old soon and I can maintain what I have going by myself, but there is no way that I'll have the time, money and energy to continue building. I'm NOT on a fixed income as most people here and I work as consultant on the net, but haven't had much time to work on my business (and am not very motivated as it's not what I really want to do.) I became an expert on living on next to nothing and I barter with neighbors who fix the truck, etc. I'm not at all a traditional survivalist as I am convinced that we need to work together to survive.

I have building permits for a 2,000 sq ft house and so far only have a giant hole for the basement. We started the foundation for a 32 x 20' greenhouse/living room addition to the existing living area 2 years ago but made little progress since then because we were so busy building the gardens and hoophouse. I already have many materials for the addition and we could easily partition off a temporary bedroom. BIG PLUS: I got my permits before inspections and building code compliance was required.

Recently the lot next to mine (1 acre) became available for a few thousand dollars and on payments. I'd love to have a like minded neighbor or buy it myself. It would be a great spot for some storage buildings and chickens. I should mention that I would consider all animals pets (not food) and I have two friendly dogs.

This will never be a permaculture property as you see in the videos with ponds and waterfalls -- this is the DESERT. In winter 2010/11 and again in 2012/13 it got unusually cold with temps to 3 or 4 F. Twice now many of the trees we planted in the previous year froze, but some of the Palo Verde trees are coming back from the ground. I have a gray water area with cattails and lots of fast growing established trees and shrubs and I plan on taking cuttings for sale. At about 4000 ft we can get a week or two around 100 F in summer, but night time temperatures usually are around 80 or lower. The extreme wind and dust devils are much more damaging to plants than the sun (hence the trees).

I plan on rocket stove mass heaters for the hoophouse, greenhouse and addition and I am looking forward to tomatoes and peppers year round. It's very hard to make money selling organic food here as most people have no clue about food quality, but I have some regulars getting lettuce now and over time people will become more appreciative. Aside from my consulting income my partner did all sorts of odd jobs, home repair, boat rehab, etc. and sometimes I helped.

My long term vision is to have a little oasis in the desert with lots of great produce and fruit and possibly even a well (about $30K). I'd like to live with several people/neighbors, maybe some that pay rent and others that do work around the place. I want to have many more medicinal plants and learn how to use them.

Until I build more, the only accommodation is a truck camper in one of the gardens that's very clean, but not near septic or electric and the water tank (or connection to it) needs to be fixed. If you have a camper you could set up by the septic. Please contact me for more info at christine@highdesertpermaculture.org and I'll try to post some pictures at http://highdesertpermaculture.org/
 
Miles Flansburg
steward
Posts: 4028
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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bee books forest garden fungi greening the desert hugelkultur
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Christine, can you give me more info on the acre next door? Is it listed by a realtor? Link? Cost etc. Thanks
 
Christine Baker
Posts: 62
Location: NW Arizona - high desert Joshua Tree forest
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Miles, it's not listed. The owner is an investor with several lots in the area and he offered it to me for $5k. In addition to the property tax ($50 or so) it comes with a $35 homeowner association fee. I've had a HUGE fight with the association last year and almost got it dissolved, but Memorial Day weekend are elections and we're getting an all new board and the candidates promised to turn it into a "community" association.

And of course the lot it is subject to current building codes, inspections, etc. We can build storage structures up to 120 sqft without permits as long as no water / electric (can't legally live in it.) There is a power pole right there, the power company put it up to entice us to hook into the grid. I really have to post some pics, right after I finish putting the new shade cloth in the hoophouse.
 
Christine Baker
Posts: 62
Location: NW Arizona - high desert Joshua Tree forest
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Just remembered to update as I got another email about the neighbor lot. My partner came back to visit, decided that this wasn't so bad here after all and he ended up buying the neighbor lot for $2,000 cash before Xmas. He's been financing major improvements and we cleared much of the brush and have several camping pads. Currently have two motorhomes and our truck camper and host 5 WWOOFers. It's great to have people from all over the world visiting.

We started a 120 sqft adobe dome on the neighbor lot and are converting old carport pipes into a place to hang out with an adjoining outdoor kitchen.

The big project is permaculture designing about 3/4 acre with the center piece being an orchard as at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3riW_yiCN5E. We won't plant trees till fall and hopefully will have all the fencing and wind breaks in place by then. I'll update with more info as I have time.
 
Andrew Greaves
Posts: 63
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books rabbit wofati
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I was reminded of the conflicted card game that jack spirko reads about on mondays last thursday because I got fired from my job of One year. I would really like to get some advice from the comm. as to what they think I should do. I have very little cash on hand $1400 and the rent $817 is due on the first of october. I have a second job which is part time and that is pretty erratic income. keep in mind that my total monthly expenses equal about $1,600
second job stats 2013
sept $770 net income
oct $773 net
nov $1203
dec $593
I REALLY REALLY WANT to start a business and I have the idea , a mentor to help from the score org, and very very little overhead to get started but I think that maybe I should explore my options as to what kind of hourly job to get, but then that would leave very little time to build the business. Decisions, decisions. got any suggestions?
 
Jae Suzanne
Posts: 3
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Hi Christine, I am seriously considering buying a 5 acre parcel in Joshua Tree on Mile Square Rd. I would ideally like to live off grid, collecting water and creating a dome home with a courtyard and have a place I can visit for little vacations or somewhere I can come stay if need be for longer periods of time. I was taught ceramicrete by Michael Collins and I have worked extensively with cob. I also have done extensive native restoration and drought resistant gardening. Because I am now seeing that Joshua Tree seems to have strict building codes and enforcement- how difficult would it be for me to live in my 120 sq ft dome on a temporary or semi- temporary way? I make ceramicrete tiles and herbal products and the dome would technically be my workshop. I am going to be building a high fence private courtyard like the picture I included. The area seems sparsely populated. I would love to hear your thoughts and appreciate your time.
dome456.jpg
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ceramicrete.jpg
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Christine Baker
Posts: 62
Location: NW Arizona - high desert Joshua Tree forest
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Oh, there's so much I could say. Much depends on your neighbors and whether anyone will turn you in and, probably more important, whether your stuff will still be there when you go to visit your place. I'm glad we just about always have people and dogs here as many of the weekenders' properties are broken in to.

I don't know much about the Joshua Tree area and what their building codes allow. Here you need a permit for a 120 sqft workshop with utilities, but recently someone told me that low voltage such as 12 V is exempt.

Also important is whether you need septic (big bucks) or whether they allow composting toilets. You might want to call the building department and inquire, and obviously don't give an address, just say you're considering purchasing property if they're not too restrictive. Don't rely on what area residents tell you because codes and enforcement continually change.

Love those domes and the ceramicrete, have to look into that.
 
Jae Suzanne
Posts: 3
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Thanks so much Christine... I was confused... I thought you were in Joshua Tree- California. Thanks again.
 
That feels good. Thanks. Here's a tiny ad:
Permaculture Playing Cards
https://permies.com/wiki/57503/digital-market/digital-market/Permaculture-Playing-Cards
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