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.

Cloths Line

Cloths Line

One of the smartest things we did was install an outdoor cloths line. Huge savings on electricity and propane heating fuel. Cloths smell so much nicer too!
Cloths Line
Cloths Line

Cloths Line

Cedar logs were cut from our forest for the two poles used to hang the cloths line from. Project took all of two days to complete including the stoop.
Cloths Line
Solar Panels

Solar Panels

Additional solar panels were installed on the south facing roof to maximize the 24 battery bank.
Solar Panels
Solar Panels

Solar Panels

Additional solar panels are added to the roof of the house supplying us with enough power to take the house off-grid.
Solar Panels
Diesel Generator

Diesel Generator

A diesel generator was purchased as a back-up to the solar panels. Since we live in the northern hemisphere where we experience long periods of darkness and overcast days, this was our solution.
Diesel Generator
Diesel Generator

Diesel Generator

The diesel back-up generator is installed in its own building away from the house, as it is noisy.
Diesel Generator
Battery Bank

Battery Bank

Converted energy from the solar panels is collected and stored in a 24 unit battery bank.
Battery Bank
Solar Converter

Solar Converter

Energy from the solar panels is processed through this solar converter unit into usable energy which is stored in the battery bank.
Solar Converter
Solar Panels

Solar Panels

A 12 unit solar panel group was installed on a tower in our front field facing south. The tower unit allows us to manually adjust the panels to maximize the solar energy and safeguard against extreme weather.
Solar Panels
Water Tank

Water Tank

A high efficiency water tank was installed to reduce the demand for electricity. Water that is heated from the outdoor wood furnace is stored in the adjacent tank to again reduce the demand for electricy.
Water Tank
Propane Stove

Propane Stove

A UNIQUE brand propane stove was chosen to reduce electricity consumption. No bells and whistles. Works like an outdoor propane barbecue.
Propane Stove
Canning

Canning

All efforts are made to prepare, cook and preserve our own foods. This greatly reduces our grocery bill and utilizes all things that we grow and produce on the farm.
Canning
Canning

Canning

All efforts are made to prepare, cook and preserve our own foods. This greatly reduces our grocery bill and utilizes all things that we grow and produce on the farm.
Canning
Garlic Harvest

Garlic Harvest

Garlic is extremely important to our health and well being. The annual garlic harvest is enjoyed by ourselves, the cattle and our customers alike.
Garlic Harvest
Tallow Soap

Tallow Soap

The fat from our butchered cows is used to make tallow soap which we use for ourselves and sell at market.
Tallow Soap
Sewing Machine

Sewing Machine

We were gifted this wonderful and most amazing old fashioned Singer sewing machine. Works like a charm. Uses little electricity. Allows us to sew and make many things.
Sewing Machine
Knitting & Crochet

Knitting & Crochet

Learning how to knit and crochet helps to save money. Used yarns are always easy to find. Handmade objects end up being treasured objects.
Knitting & Crochet
Boot Drying

Boot Drying

This is Aric's very ingenious,special invention. A boot drying rack that connects two furnace vents using ABS piping. Boots, mittens and hats are easily warmed and dried. It is amazing!
Boot Drying
Flow Forms

Flow Forms

Flow Forms in Greenhouse. Water is collected in a concrete tank beneath the floor of the greenhouse. Water is then pumped through a series of flow forms and then into an indoor pond, complete with goldfish and plants. This energized water is used to irrigate the greenhouse.
Flow Forms
Indoor Pond

Indoor Pond

Indoor Pond in Greenhouse. Water is collected in a concrete tank beneath the floor of the greenhouse. Water is then pumped through a series of flow forms and then into an indoor pond, complete with goldfish and plants. This energized water is used to irrigate the greenhouse.
Indoor Pond
Greenhouse

Greenhouse

Greenhouse Construction. Our finished greenhouse has a double layered plastic skin with double doors on both ends for air flow. It is heated in the winter months with our outdoor wood furnace.
Greenhouse
Greenhouse

Greenhouse

Greenhouse Construction. The hoops are all in place and the greenhouse is ready for the plastic skin to be installed.
Greenhouse
Greenhouse

Greenhouse

Greenhouse Construction. Metal hoops are secured with crossbeams to ensure stability and longevity.
Greenhouse
Greenhouse

Greenhouse

Greenhouse Construction. Each hoop is secured to the concrete walls for stability and longevity.
Greenhouse