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best, simple summary of all things wheaton labs

 
steward
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Some folks suggested that how to find the simplest, best information about wheaton labs might be needed. (This came up in the permaculture bootcamp, funny money, free bunks, ideas for growth thread -which is about ways to provide community space, learning/working opportunities, and money for bunks, food and such for residents here.)

wheaton labs is owned by Paul Wheaton and is over 220 acres near Missoula, Montana. It is actually TWO pieces of property, base camp and the lab. Base camp is on-grid, ROCKY, has wifi, and is where Paul and Jocelyn live in the "Fisher Price House." The lab is down a paved, then gravel, then dirt (some times mud adventure!) road, is off-grid (with our solar trailers), no wifi / spotty cell reception, and is where ant village is located.



 

Visiting wheaton labs - most people visit from attending a workshop, joining our bootcamp program, or renting something here, in one of many ways. And now we have tours!
  • permaculture bootcamp - boots to roots - a way to learn and earn an acre at wheaton labs in about 21 months
  • events at wheaton labs - we now have a wheaton lab workshop & event calendar
  • tour dates - quarterly-ish full day tours of wheaton labs
  • ant village - this is the main community on the lab where "ants" each rent an acre on which to build their own home(s) and food systems
  • deep roots - an alternative to buying land at wheaton labs (sorta like lifetime rent)
  • shallow roots - 3 years - acreage rent of a shorter time frame
  • SEPPers Program - Seriously Excited About Permaculture Pampering - lists our bunk options as part of a paid visit program

  • In general, we prefer that you ask questions in those threads, because odds are others might have the same questions. If, after reading everything, you still have questions, and/or are not comfortable asking a question there, you can e-mail workshop AT richsoil DOT com. (If you're new to the forums, there's a great intro at How Permies.com Works.)

    more about lodging, camping, food, bathroom facilities, work, etc.
  • lodging - besides the bunks for rent or trade for good work (listed in the SEPPers thread above), camping is always an option, for pictures and more info see tenting at wheaton labs. Bring your own camping gear, though we do have limited extras for rent or trade.
  • food - in most cases you are on your own for food. There are community cooking options in Allerton Abbey, others possibly by special arrangement, and, in the winter, feast and shower nights with Paul and Jocelyn in the FPH.
  • toilets - community toilets are the off-grid, unplumbed willow feeders (the willow bank at base camp and the chateau de poo at the lab) and the great outdoors is always an option here for peeing.
  • showers - in the summer (roughly May/June to September), we have the shower shack at base camp. It must be taken offline once freezing weather begins. When the shower shack is not available, weekly showers are available at feast nights at the Fisher Price House. More than weekly access to the plumbed bathroom and shower at the FPH is available by special arrangement (for a price or good work).
  • income/work - there are opportunities to make money via "bounties" (bounty just means it typically has a per job price instead of an hourly rate), trading (ala fysh), and even "Biological Reverse Kickstarters (BRKs). Read more about all the options and BRKs in money making at wheaton labs. We encourage folks to start their own businesses here (homestead or online). We discourage commuting to town for a job.

  • For videos about wheaton labs, see this wheaton labs YouTube playlist.

    More about/from Paul Wheaton and his permaculture philosophies:
  • Community theory - independent / concensus / dictator hybrid
  • Videos - Paul Wheaton's Youtube channel - over 150 videos
  • Podcasts - forum podcast summaries and discussions, or play from podcast blog or search for Paul Wheaton in your podcast app
    Note:  listening to at least 200 podcasts is required before becoming an ant or a deep roots resident, just to be sure you know what you're getting into!
    (or start here:  the top 12 podcasts)
  • Writing/articles by Paul - richsoil.com or paul wheaton's pseudo blog or Paul's MakeitMissoula blog

  • More about wheaton labs and Montana:
  • weather at wheaton labs - from montana winters to the 'August Singularity'
  • food and drink at the project - this is primarily about how Paul and Jocelyn prefer to eat, though touches on feast night meals, food grown here, and more
  • events at wheaton labs - worth a second mention, see current happenings on our wheaton lab workshop & event calendar
  • choose your adventure at wheaton labs - potential things to do here
  • cool things about Montana
  • see also the Missoula forum for things to do in town, nearby, restaurant recommendations, and more

  • Thanks to the great info and suggestions in the permaculture bootcamp, funny money, free bunks, ideas for growth thread. I think I covered most of the meta and general questions folks might have. Did I miss something?

    (Please ask questions about the gapper program, the SEPPer program, deep roots, etc., in their respective threads linked above. Thank you!)

    Staff note (Jocelyn Campbell):

    It's always best to ask questions in a thread, first. Though if your question has not already been answered, or you have a private question, please use these e-mails:
    workshops or events: workshop AT richsoil.com
    rentals or accommodations: bunks AT richsoil.com

     
    Jocelyn Campbell
    steward
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    Dirtpatcheaven keeps adding videos about wheaton labs (which is neat!) so the wheaton labs playlist is being updated continually.

    I'm unable to embed the full playlist, which means the following video is just the first of many. Use wheaton labs playlist to see all of them.



     
    Jocelyn Campbell
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    Best pictures / visuals of wheaton labs (besides the video playlist above, though some of these are a repeat from the first post):

  • gapper program 2.0 - amazing compilation of photos by Paul in the first post of this thread
  • Evan's ant village log - Evan did/does an amazing job of photo journaling his time as an ant. He's on a bit of a hiatus from what used to be daily posts, but with 24 pages in his thread, most with three pictures each post, I think a break is deserved.
  • Jesse's Ant Village Videos - Jesse has been chronicling his ant village progress with video - his thread is up to five pages long now!
  • a couple of pics - this five page thread has some early pics from three years ago, plus some recent ones, too. Content is admittedly fairly random in this one.
  • Fred's photos from Wheaton Labs - many excellent naturalist style photos of flora and fauna
  • Wildlife at Wheaton Labs - game camera photos of wildlife traveling through the lab
  • SEPPers Program:  Seriously Excited About Permaculture Pampering - listed above, though worth repeating here since Janet included some nice thumbnail pics of wheaton labs rental structures or bunks, complete with links to threads about each structure.
  • tenting at wheaton labs - now listed above - shows the tent pads at base camp at different times of year.
  • maps of wheaton laboratories - these are primarily older maps of the "the lab"



  •  
    Jocelyn Campbell
    steward
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    Other common questions:

    What about dogs?
  • dogs
  • dog park at wheaton labs - an idea (there isn't one yet)


  • What about kids?
  • kids - note, this is an older thread that is two pages long

  • Probably best to quote Paul from one of his posts in the ant village thread:

    paul wheaton wrote:As for kids, I think we've written about kids here many times. I wish to make it clear that there have been some kids out here that have been just awesome. But for every awesome kid there's been five that have been icky.

    One of the most important things is I am very concerned that people will choose to not try innovations because it could introduce dangerous for children who happened to be walking by. I wish to make it really clear that innovation is 100 times more important then the safety of unsupervised children.

    In fact, I think that's the key phrase unsupervised children. The primary function of this property is permaculture innovation. When children are there, it's very easy of the safety of children take a priority over all of these things. So if a parent comes with assurances that that is not something I need to worry about then I feel far more comfortable.


     
    Jocelyn Campbell
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    I almost forgot about the toxin-ectomy goals here.

    Paul envisions wheaton labs as having the least toxins possible. To this end, base camp and the lab will have differing levels of what and where plastics, paint or other toxins will be allowed. (Because we're all at different levels on the Wheaton Eco Scale.)

    From the discussion about the four pieces at the laboratory, Paul would like the lab divided into four sections like this at some point:

    paul wheaton wrote:
    oehla
    - attempts to promote a lifestyle better than that found on typical organic farms
    - petroleum fuel allowed
    - must have listened to at least 12 podcasts to get on land

    perm
    - ten times "better" than oehla
    - paint is allowed, but not much. Maybe ten times less than you would find on a typical organic farm
    - imported organic matter is allowed (very carefully selected)
    - electric vehicles allowed
    - must have listened to more than 90% of podcasts to get on land

    symboo
    - ten times "better" than perm
    - very little paint is allowed
    - imported organic matter is not allowed
    - limited use of plastic
    - small electric vehicles allowed
    - use of a trac hoe once a year is acceptable.


    husp
    - ten times "better" than symboo
    - zero paint allowed
    - no plastics
    - no galvanized stuff
    - stainless steel and glass are okay
    - no electricity
    - no plumbing
    - nothing is ever burned (no fire, no candles)
    - clothing restrictions (no synthetic fibers, shoes, etc.)
    - no trac hoe



    Though these sections have not yet been defined.

    Some of this is based on Paul’s story/fiction called husp - Horticulture of the United States of Pocahontas.

     
    pollinator
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    Jocelyn Campbell wrote:Though these sections have not yet been defined.



    In the context of Ant Village, I keep wondering how the current uses on the Lab roughly match up to these 4 sections.

    Would you say that, conceptually, Ant Village, Tipi, both wofatis, the lemon tree site are all in Oehla?  Or, asked another way, would the current uses constrain where the boundaries of the 4 sections could eventually be?
     
    Jocelyn Campbell
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    Kerry Rodgers wrote:

    Jocelyn Campbell wrote:Though these sections have not yet been defined.



    In the context of Ant Village, I keep wondering how the current uses on the Lab roughly match up to these 4 sections.

    Would you say that, conceptually, Ant Village, Tipi, both wofatis, the lemon tree site are all in Oehla?  Or, asked another way, would the current uses constrain where the boundaries of the 4 sections could eventually be?



    Kerry, I am SO sorry no one replied yet! Good questions.

    We are currently thinking the least restrictive section, oehla, would be at the far end of the lab around cooper cabin. We're not sure yet if that section would extend down to encompass ant village, allerton abbey and the tipi. It's possible those areas might have to conform with perm, or even symboo at some point in the (distant?) future.

    Though as you put it, I suppose it's also possible the current uses could be factors in the boundaries. That's up to Paul. Basically the vision is out there to help folks keep their eyes on the prize, so to speak. Paul and I have a long way to go ourselves (living here at base camp in the Fisher Price House!), before we could meet some of the higher standards (for least/lower toxicity) in the more advanced sections.


     
    Jocelyn Campbell
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    We have visitors coming out this year who asked about access to different facilities around here. Here was my quick summary reply:

    gappers or residents - gappers program 2.0 thread
  • winter (into spring?) months - weekly feast nights in the Fisher Price House (FPH) include access to shower, and front loading washing machine*
  • May-Oct (estimated) - outdoor shower shack and (small?) manual laundry machine available any time at base camp
  • responsible for own TP (recycled/natural brands are fine)
  • possible access to 2-burner propane cooktop and small propane oven in Allerton Abbey
  • *residents often use laundromats instead of the FPH washer and/or the washer could be quite busy on feast days

    boots - boots to roots thread
  • 24/7 access to FPH, including kitchen, showers, FPH washing machine, boots fridge
  • TP and food supplied by Paul
  • bunk(s) likely though expect to be portable as bunk priority is given to paying guests, long-term residents/employees, or instructors over boots

  • This is the manual laundry machine mentioned above:


     
    master steward
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    I merged your stuff with the following thread. I hope that is okay by you.
     
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    Hello Paul . I'm passing through Missoula From Chilliwack BC Canada and would love to drop off my kick starter donation in person.  I tried to sign up for the  PDC  back in January but  had problems with PayPal and the links .im doing Geoffs online PDC at the moment.I booked the time off work anyway so I figured I would drive down and check out Missoula regardless.  I would really love to  check out your place- but I know you are all probably swamped.  I'm fully aware of your aversion to to time wasters so I understand  if it doesn't work-
    Thanks for your time Matthew (Joseph) Amyotte  June 10 2017 8:45
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    paul wheaton
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    Joseph Amyotte wrote:Hello Paul . I'm passing through Missoula From Chilliwack BC Canada and would love to drop off my kick starter donation in person.  I tried to sign up for the  PDC  back in January but  had problems with PayPal and the links .im doing Geoffs online PDC at the moment.I booked the time off work anyway so I figured I would drive down and check out Missoula regardless.  I would really love to  check out your place- but I know you are all probably swamped.  I'm fully aware of your aversion to to time wasters so I understand  if it doesn't work-
    Thanks for your time Matthew (Joseph) Amyotte  June 10 2017 8:45
    1604 8193980
    The world needs more people like you -Stay Strong



    Hi Joseph!

    I think the first step is to figure out if you are just gonna do the tour, maybe pitch a tent and help out a few days (gapper/boot) ore rent a bunk for a few days (sepper).  Take a look at the top of this thread to get things rolling.  

    The kickstarter has ended, so if you want some of that stuff, we are trying to set up making it available in my digital market stuff:  https://permies.com/f/312/paul-wheaton

     
    paul wheaton
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    Hot off the press from Justin Rhodes as part of his great american farm tour:

     
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    Great video, and I really like the passive venting of the Trombe wall for Willow Wonka! Heats up during the day and stays warm all night, without maintaining moving parts or electronics is a great idea.
     
    steward
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    I love the video, I'm just sad that it looks like they were in a hurry and couldn't go up to the Lab.  It's been a lot of fun watching Justin and his family visit so many interesting places, I'm so glad they came out to Wheaton Laboratories.
     
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    This is the manual laundry machine mentioned above:




    I have the ingredients for making my own laundry soap, soap flakes, Borax, and Washing Soda, is that acceptable? I also have a wash system I purchased, but have yet used full time.
     
    Jocelyn Campbell
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    Tom Condon wrote:This is the manual laundry machine mentioned above:


    I have the ingredients for making my own laundry soap, soap flakes, Borax, and Washing Soda, is that acceptable? I also have a wash system I purchased, but have yet used full time.


    Hi Tom, we try to limit the use of Borax as much as we can, though we do use it a little bit / once in a while. I'm not entirely sure, but I think just soap flakes and washing soda would be milder and more biodegradable without the Borax - maybe more for daily use without the Borax.

     
    Jocelyn Campbell
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    We had some folks worried about camping here - that they would not have water. The event they were attending (the 2019 ATC) was almost entirely at base camp, where there is plenty of water.

    Even for camping at the lab, where we don't yet have a well, it's fairly easy to load up on water at base camp and take that to lab. Here's a summary I posted about the two properties in our wheaton labs rental thread:

    Jocelyn Campbell wrote:wheaton labs is comprised of two pieces of property:

    base camp

    base camp is a ROCKY, very hilly chunk of land with a steep rise culminating in a 500 foot little peak that we call the "hollowed out volcano with good submarine access" and has:

  • good well water
  • on-grid electricity
  • wifi
  • outdoor willow feeder "willow bank" (like an outhouse)
  • outdoor (rockety wood-heated hot water) shower shack


  • the lab

    The lab is two miles from base camp along a paved, then gravel, then steep dirt-sometimes-mud-or-snow-adventure road. It is a much larger, more diverse, forested property surrounded by US forest land. lab features include:
  • off-grid
  • no wifi
  • solar electric power via the small "voltzwagon" at Allerton Abbey
  • solar electric power via the "solar leviathan" at Cooper Cabin
  • no water source yet (bring water from base camp)
  • limited cell service, some places no cell service
  • two outdoor willow feeders - "the chateau de poo" and the "willowonka" (next to Cooper Cabin)
  • lots of wildlife - including black bears, so please store food properly to avoid attracting bears


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