Rosa Parker

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since Oct 26, 2014
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Recent posts by Rosa Parker

What is the best eco-friendly wood treatment to preserve solid wood in an indoor cage? It's really for guinea pigs and not for rabbits, but since the cage materials and treatment are exactly the same for both animals I'm just posting here.

There will be rubber mats on the wooden bottom (+ bedding) so it's not like they will piss and poop directly onto the wood. It's just all the little corners and cracks that are still exposed, because we won't be able to seal it 100% with rubber mats. Also the wooden sides of the cage will be exposed.

I know that linseed oil and walnut oil are types of wood preservatives, but I have no idea if they would be suitable for this type of application. My concern is whether it's strong enough to handle something like animal urine - it's not just about waterproofing it but also about protecting it to ammonia (as much as feasible anyway).

Any recommendations? I know you can buy stuff for these purposes in DIY stores that is classed as water-based, solvent-free and eco-friendly, but I have a suspicion most of the time it's not really that natural or still contains some undesirable chemicals.

9 months ago
Hi David, thanks for your message! Well, at least we are used to the level of regulations based on our experience in the Netherlands and UK.

We are actually looking at Bretagne - do you perhaps know if that would be a favourable region/area? Or are others better? I'm sure I've read some good things about the west in terms of eco folks, but that could have been Normandie... In the end it's more about the opportunity that comes up than the location.

Our plan is to live in a tipi for as long as it would take to build a cob house (huge project after all), so that's similar to a yurt.

I forgot to add that we have also thought about buying a ruin as a 'shortcut' to (easier) permission for a cob house. We would probably have to increase our budget, though (around 50k means we have to pay some part through a loan).

1 year ago
I was wondering if anyone here has any advice re cob building in France, specifically on land that is not 'building land' (fiancé and I just can't afford that).

I did find intricate legal documents that address these concerns, which I'm sure are useful, but for now I just would like to see other people's real-life experiences. There seem to be so many variables that we are a bit lost with it - e.g. if you are lucky with the mayor, do countrywide rules even matter that much... That's the impression I get - mayor's opinion and happy neighbours are more important than anything else.

Especially as foreigners, I don't think we can get away with building - even if it's cob - on agricultural or other non-building land. Except, this seems to be an option if you are conducting agricultural business. I'm afraid that this doesn't apply to immigrants, though.

I found some very positive messages about cob building in France (see below) and the French being supportive of sustainable development, but I also read about France being a bureaucratic minefield and what not...

Does anyone have a faint idea of what our best chances are? We need to come up with a strategy and I don't expect it to be easy...

Thanks so much in advance.

And if you know anyone who is doing/has done this in France, we would love to know more!

1 year ago

I just wrote a really detailed update for you... But my phone screwed me over and now it's all lost.

Sigh... I have lost the motivation to rewrite this and a few busy weeks coming up, so not sure when I will get back to this unfortunately.
2 years ago
Hi All,

We are so so sorry for such a late reply! We didn't get any notification of any messages posted and we just happened to check before xmas and was surprised to see replies! Of course we have been busy over the holiday period and just settled back down now! Also, some laziness in replying (Adam, not Rosa!).

Firstly, just to echo Rus' excellent reply to Jeff. We hope to create something bigger than ourselves. Living in harmony with the land and creating a bigger movement - eco community for example, one that continues well into the future. In this world that is simply impossible if we don't own the land, and that requires being part of the money system as it currently works. Even if you own the land there are no guarantees into the future. Does the land come with all rights (to fish, utilise trees/resources, mining rights - not we want to but stopping others undermining for example, airspace, etc), or what about compulsory purchases because governments want the land for other uses. The more one thinks about it, the more depressing it becomes. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to pick a bit of land and live like a free animal


We actually spent some time looking at France since your posts, however we feel its probably going to be too restrictive, difficult to achieve what we want. You have alluded to that in your last post about the hoops needed to jump through and difficulty buying and building on land. We have been torn between Portugal and Sweden mostly, but recently are thinking Sweden is the way to go. There seems to be less sacrifices there. Although initially Slovenia looked a good option, we think it might be too difficult (legally) and of course the language is daunting.

Looking at Sweden there seems to be many positives, the language is easier to learn for English speakers (apparently!), there is a lot of forest/green land and there seems to be good prices, climate seems very similar to UK in the South and Central parts, it seems easier legally to set up an eco-village as far as we can tell, there is a growing organic farm movement, the government is a green coalition which could potentially be more amenable, a lot of stunning natural areas which could aid an eco-tourism business perhaps. One thing that seems really helpful is the Swedish culture of the 'fritidshus' (basically means holiday cottage), which has easier regulations and is used by some people as a permanent home (and the municipalities are aware of that). It doesn't necessarily mean you build whatever you want (in terms of functionality it must be functional - as an example, that the materials don't rot), but when Rosa did a quick land search she could quite easily find plots that mentioned building a fritidshus as a prime example for the plots' use. Although we have a lot to learn and still ignorant of lots of things im sure! We plan on visiting early this year to get a feel for the country and to hopefully visit an existing eco-village to get more information.

Would you be interested in considering Sweden? Have you made any progress on your plans?

Adam and Rosa.

2 years ago
Thanks for the in depth reply. You have raised a lot of good points, and some philosophical questions. We would essentially like to get away from capitalism, so can definitely see the capitalist mentality of "What can I get from this land, or person?", and certainly don't share that sentiment.

Ideally an eco village community we envision would be potentially working together - even with separate land/houses - on projects or food production or home schooling as a quick example but at the same time being independent and not inherently linked. Though it's still important to us that the community does share beliefs and goals - being eco friendly, non polluting, organic etc. People we want to share a journey with through life, even if some members of the community kept to themselves mostly. With an adventure like this we think the quality of our neighbours would be very important!

That's an awful lot of land in the link you posted! Interesting to know if that's the price range you have in mind, and are you looking at buying an existing house? In the last few days we have been looking at Slovenia, it seems to tick a lot of boxes for us and the price of land seems reasonable. We are looking at building our own house after an initial period in a tipi. We like the low impact living of a tiny house and are on a tight budget.

Here is a quick example of something we found, which could have potential for an eco village site, though we haven't actually looked at the particulars of the land in terms of amenities:
2 years ago
Thank you for your messages. I did think there must be other people with similar hopes and aspirations, yet the communal type of ecovillage seems to dominate. It's great to learn that we are not alone in our vision.

Exploring the options we have would be very interesting, I agree. After all, each ecovillage is the result of action and joined forces.

At the moment, we are struggling to decide on a specific country/area. We are thinking in terms of e.g. climate, cost of land, learning the language, homeschooling, the balance between infrastructure and nature... Neither of us are fans of the typical Mediterranean climate in summer. Because we are still saving, we haven't made a final decision, and through research we keep changing our minds as to what is the most suitable location. Of course, no country is perfect and everything is relative. On paper it can be difficult to get a feel for it. So far, we have seriously considered Sweden and Northern Portugal/Spain, but we haven't ruled out France and potentially some Eastern European countries, and we are open to suggestions.
2 years ago

Do any of you know ecovillages (throughout Europe) that are based on ownership of land/property rather than just living there in exchange for work? My partner and I would be interested in living in an ecovillage, but we would still want to have our own land (thus grow our own food independently) and build our own structure to live in. Basically, we would want to live in an ecovillage to barter food and reduce social isolation. However, every time we've done research, it seems that an ecovillage 'owns' the people who live there, as they can hardly make autonomous decisions about what to grow, what building style to adhere to, what projects to start, etc. - everything is subject to collective interest. Sometimes they don't even have their own building, and then of course there are regular meetings and usually also scheduled group dinners. Don't take me wrong, I'm in no way looking down on this type of lifestyle, but I know that this degree of community is not for everyone either. To us, it would simply be very important to maintain autonomy as a family - and we would grant our neighbours the same. But that doesn't mean we can't help each other and participate in barter.

So, I would be very curious to learn about ecovillages like the one I've just described. Are they out there, and how does one gain ownership - i.e. is it still based on the monetary system?

Thank you for any information!

2 years ago
Wow, so many helpful replies!! Thank you for your supportive attitudes. There are definitely ideas I had not considered yet, and I will take them into account. That Bodega house looks lovely, indeed!

Also, sometimes I almost forget about spending time outside during spring and summer. You can create a nice playground for kids - in fact, it's probably better to them than living in a somewhat bigger apartment in a bustled, crowded city with no child-friendly areas nearby... Putting up some sort of garden pavilion would be a good idea for rainier days.
4 years ago
We're a young couple that wants to live off-grid, mortgage-free, and balance homesteading with making some money through the Internet (the latter is already happening). We never had the chance to save much money, unfortunately, so anything above €10.000 (≈ $11.260) would be a little hard to realise. (We currently don't have any bills as we live with our parents.) So... I keep thinking of tiny houses, because they have so many great aspects: No need to buy expensive land with planning permission, tiny houses themselves are not incredibly expensive (especially when self-built), and it's possible to move them to a different location should this be necessary. Yes, they are small, but both of us prefer staying in one room anyway. We like compactness and cosiness. We're also used to staying very close to each other in the same space, which doesn't bring up any irritations.
But there is ONE aspect that is rather critical... Getting a baby is something we hope to experience a couple of years, like four, from now. And raising a family is not exactly something that a tiny house seems ideal for. Especially as the baby becomes a toddler and older, a typically sized tiny house would IMO be unethical. There's not even space for a child's personal room, I imagine! (Or maybe I underestimate the size of a tiny house...) So, from that perspective, living in a tiny house seems impossible.
Sure we can't be the only people interested in tiny houses as well as procreating? Is there a reasonable solution to this? The main issue is the narrow width of the home. If only this could be doubled (or at least 3m instead of 2.20m), there wouldn't be such an issue, since many tiny houses are actually quite long. I just can't imagine living comfortably in a 2.20m tiny house with a vibrant kid around me. Are there any families who do this at all?
Anyway, I figured that 2.20m has to do with the legal maximum on the road. Is there still a way to create a wider tiny house, which still comes with the legalities of a portable home? (Even though it can't be transported as a whole.) Or is the only solution making it extra long (like 10m ≈ 33ft) by a regular width?
Anything that is seen as a regular, fixed house is not an option for us. Building land is beyond our budget. That's why we're so fond of the tiny house concept.

I really hope there is a child-friendly alternative!
4 years ago