Living a Sustainable Lifestyle | Earth Haven Farm
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The Weather Network

News & Events
March 6, 2017
By Karen Davis-Brown Originally published in the Winter 2011 issue of Biodynamics.
December 22, 2016
by Hugh Lovel | Dec 22, 2016  How certain notions arise and become entrenched is a bit
October 10, 2016
Long story short: Biodynamic is the new organic, and you need to get behind it, like,

Living a Sustainable Lifestyle

The decision to go off the grid started in 2006 when we moved to the farm and had to look at replacing the existing furnace and started looking at alternative sources of heating.  The real decision to go off grid was pretty much made for us when our electrical bill doubled in 2008 and then doubled again when the new "smart meters" were installed. Thus, to say, the decision to go off grid has been driven by economics.

For us, living off grid means:

  • Utilizing solar and wind power with a back-up diesel generator
  • Heating with wood (outdoor wood stove) with propane furnace as a back-up
  • Use cold water instead of hot water whenever possible
  • Cooking on a propane stove specifically designed for off-grid living
  • Cooking on an outdoor propane BBQ
  • Maintaining our old fashioned wood burning cook stove for emergencies

The decision to go off grid has also entailed a complete lifestyle change. What we give up, we only hope to gain in the smaller footprint that we leave behind in this world.  Here are some of the lifestyle changes that have been made:

  • We use an outdoor and indoor clothes line to dry our cloths
  • We use low energy light bulbs throughout all buildings on the farm
  • We do not flush the toilet after every use
  • We have a seasonal outdoor composting toilet
  • We do not use an automatic dishwasher
  • We refrain from using electrical kitchen appliances
  • We are mindful of bathing and showering habits
  • We burn candles and avoid leaving unnecessary lights on
  • We utilize and collect hand tools as opposed to power tools whenever possible
  • We minimize our use of electrical appliances, tools, toys and luxury items
  • TV's, computers, printers, etc. are plugged into power-bars which are turned off when not in use

Upgrades and additions to our off-grid system have been coming out of nowhere in every direction. Delays, setbacks and a lot of stress. Could write a book on the whole experience. Nevertheless, we are where we are and it remains a work in progress.
Will keep you posted as things develop and more time can be dedicated to writing on this subject.  Pushing forward. 

In 2008 we started looking at all the components that would be required, the alternatives, the possible grants, equipment, suppliers and contractors. It has been a daunting task to say the least, with little to no support from any direction.

There are lots of newspaper and magazine articles written by people that have gone off grid, but the economic policies of our times do not support this move, in fact they hamper it.  With no support from any level of business, municipal, provincial or federal government, it puts us very much of being alone and truly having to rely on our own "sustainability".

The first step to going off grid was to determine what our electrical power requirements are.  The electrical bill does not reflect accurate usage by any means.  A contractor met with us and did a site inspection and presented us with our usage requirements and advised us point blank as to what we would have to give up and eliminate from our current usage.

It was obvious that we needed to purchase a solar panel unit with some sort of back up power supply.  That led us to our next hurdle; finding a solar contractor that would actually sell and install an off grid system to us.  The market is saturated with solar contractors that only want to sell grid-tie systems. We have yet to understand this economic anomaly.

 

Sustainable Living & Off-Grid Projects

The following are projects that we have undertaken here on Earth Haven Farm to either live off-grid or to create a more sustainable lifestyle.

Greenhouse

Greenhouse

Greenhouse Construction. Concrete block foundations walls are being constructed. Walls will be parched and sealed. Dirt will be filled back in on all sides for support
Greenhouse
Greenhouse

Greenhouse

Greenhouse Construction. The hole is being dug for the inground foundation walls.
Greenhouse
Water to Barn

Water to Barn

Water Lines to Barn. A trench from the dug well to the barn is made. Water lines are connected and laid to provide fresh water to the cattle year round.
Water to Barn
Dug Well

Dug Well

We have a wonderful dug well that provides ample water throughout the year, even in drought conditions. We replaced the old well head with a submersible pump. Water from this well supplies house, barn, greenhouse and irrigation in the gardens areas.
Dug Well
Outdoor Furnace

Outdoor Furnace

Our outdoor wood burning furnace provides heat to the house and greenhouse during the winter months.
Outdoor Furnace
Wood Furnace

Wood Furnace

Indoor Piping for Wood Furnace. Aric is installed the hot water system that will provide heat throughout the house. The unit that he is working on fits into the existing forced air furnace system.
Wood Furnace
Wood Furnace

Wood Furnace

Outdoor Furnace Lines to House. The outdoor furnace works on pumping hot water into a circulating pump located inside the house and another one in the greenhouse.
Wood Furnace
Wood Furnace

Wood Furnace

Portage & Maine Wood Burning Furmace. We purchased the mid-size unit so that it would heat both the house and the greenhouse. This furnace is made from the same grade steel as the old steam engines and is rated to be closer to the house than other outdoor furnaces.
Wood Furnace
Wood Stove

Wood Stove

Old Fashioned Wood Cook Stove. This wonderful unit came with the house and has been a blessing on many occasions. It has also been the inspiration for baking bread and alternative methods of cooking.
Wood Stove