NOTE: due to increased safety issues in our village, we will be developing
our new Eco-community in the Yucatan Peninsula beginnng March 1st.
"homesteading in veracruz"
(last revision, January 31, 2014)
Join with seven others currently helping Jim and Mindy Phypers, Directors of the "SolarHaven2" program in Veracruz, Mexico, establish a new off-grid model Eco-community on undeveloped land outside their mountain village
Learn how to build an earthbag house, install a rain catchment system, start an Aquaponics system to grow vegetables and raise fish, install a solar electrical system, make a Rocket Stove with cob and more.
Experience living simply and sustainably,
help us out for awhile, consider joining
NOTE: To leave a comment at any time,
scroll down to the "Message Box" at the bottom of this page.
We are presently finalizing arrangements for securing our land approximately two kilometers from our village of Amelco Nuevo in the mountains of Veracruz, Mexico. Water for the community will be provided by a rain-catchment system to be built immediately. There is also a small pristine creek about 1/2 km. distant from which to haul potable water. We need to partially clear enough land to build an A-frame bunk-house and kitchen with native bamboo harvested down along the creek (with tin sheets for the roof to collect the rain-water) before we build our individual houses from local, earthen materials. We plan to buy produce in town until our Aquaponics System is established and our basic solar electric system is increased in size to run a refrigerator.
building our own EARTHBAG HOUSEs...
... from digging earth and filling bags, to building courses for the walls, to plastering/rendering -- see below...
Earthbag building has become very common-place in the last 15 years all over the world. Earthbag houses are less expensive to build, use primarily natural, non-manufactured materials that consume much energy to produce, can be built by non-professionals, are more sturdy and better insulated than conventional houses, and are better able to withstand extreme weather events and earthquakes.
We plan to build small earthbag houses with palapa/palm frond roofs or earthbag dome roofs.
A "Hobbit" style house is possible by building a basic earthbag dome house with it's usual two-foot thick walls and ceiling, berming up the structure with earth and rocks, and planting a "living roof". That's our choice!
Please visit our earthbag construction page for more details..
GROWING OUR OWN FOOD
With over seven billion of us now living on what seems a smaller and smaller earth every year, land for growing a persons own food is scarce and limited usually to a small back yard or in our case to a piece of land which was available for sale by a large wealthy land owner only because if was not suitable for growing crops. Aquaponics is the answer for us "little guys" - growing vegetables in containers along with raising fish which provide the fertilizer for a hydroponic solution for the plants roots...
HOUSING AND COOKING...
Anyone volunteering in the first stages of establishing our community will need to camp out till our A-frame bunk-house and kitchen building is completed. It will have bamboo walls and frame and a tin-roof for rain-catchment. There will be four bunks and a big kitchen area with a wood-burning Rocket Stove and a two-burner propane stove. An alcove in the bunkhouse will have a lap-top computer for everyone to use which has Internet access.
We can make either a simple Rocket Stove from ceramic blocks (left) or if we get inspired a Rocket Stove with some real personality constructed with cob (right).
Weather permitting, we also plan to cook many meals in our Solar Oven as we have for over 20 years now...
While there are no costs for lodging, everybody must pitch in to help prepare meals and wash dishes and share in the food costs. We are not vegetarians yet, but we cook with meat sparingly, and are open to preparing vegan dishes. We welcome vegans to help us learn more recopies and make the transition to a more pure, natural diet.
The best we can offer onsite at this stage in our development is a solar shower. They are a wonderful invention. When we first settled on our land out in the desert in Arizona, there were only squirrels and a husband lurking in the bushes with a camera to worry about. Now with more of us, we will make a curtained enclosure for privacy, of course.
Our area also has no less than two mountain creeks to bathe and swim in that are close-by as well as the grand Rio de Pescados which flows through town and in fact is within walking distance of our land. The creeks are spring-fed and don't change temperature much with the season which is not true of our river which changes with the seasons. During Monsoon, our river is awesomely beautiful but dangerous for swimming and bathing.
Our electricity will be provided by a small solar-electrical system (500 watts) installed on the roof and inside our Airstream travel trailer -- four solar panels and four batteries. Eight more batteries and eight panels will need to be purchased to support the needs of the larger community, initial volunteers, and to be able run a refrigerator. We already have a 2500-watt inverter which will easily handle this larger system.
None of the earth's finite resources will have to be used to create our power.
and no nuclear radiation, dirty air, or CO2 emissions will be produced.
As we have for the past nine years, we will use a simple composting toilet. It takes approximately six months to turn humanure into beautiful compost. There are no health and safety issues and no odor involved. For more information, please see http://humanurehandbook.com/
We have a satellite dish to connect to the Internet. While the speed and throughput of our service are not great, the system is sufficient for everybody to send e-mail and keep in touch with family and friends.. There will be an older but working laptop to use in the bunk house.
We sure hope you love dogs!
We have five dogs (plus three cats), all rescued from the streets where they were beginning to die. They are large, well-trained dogs now but a few are a bit overly friendly and may want to sleep with you or at least nap on your bunk. Giving them "pats" is obligatory.
Inital volunteers will be helping us pack up, to make the actual installation of our solar electric equipment in the Airstream, and begin making the transition to our land. This is an excellent opportunity to live in the true "old Mexico" in our small village. Your home will be the Airstream itself till it gets moved. To see many photographs of what life is like in our village, click HERE:
Come early March, we will need help to build a perimeter fence on our land for the dogs which will be (and have been the last seven years) our best security against ladrones (robbers). Bamboo will need to be cut to build the bunk-house/kitchen structure. We will build our Rocket Stove at this time and establish our Aquaponics system. Until the bunk-house is finished, volunteers will have to rough it a bit and camp out. By approximately the beginning of the summer of 2014 we will get underway building our first earthbag houses and other projects mentioned below.
LENGTH OF STAY...
There is no minimum or maximum stay for volounteers. Most likely, however, you will have traveled a fair distance to help us and want to stay for at least a month or three to make your trip worthwhile. There is much to learn here such as all the phases of building an earthbag house and sooner than later other projects that are planned. These include expansion of our solar electric system, planting a garden, and outreach efforts to help the local people learn more about living sustainability. This would include composting organic materials instead of burning them, companion planting, and building their own homes with earth instead of concrete blocks. The local folks know little about even basic environmental issues such as biodegradability let alone global issues like climate change. Through regular contact and slowly building trusting friendships with the local people, we hope to be able to help our neighbors begin to understand these things. The longer you stay the richer your experience will become and the more you can accomplish. We envision and hope that some volunteers will want to stay for a long time and perhaps even become part of the community and build their own house.
WHAT TO BRING...
...a willingness to "rough it" a bit, a hunger to learn and acquire new skills, a love of the natural world, and an appreciation of critical need for the people of our planet to begin to live more simply and sustainably. Please bring a sleeping bag (but light-weight since this IS the tropics), rechargeable flash-light, insect-repellent, hat, light-weight/water-resistent jacket or rain poncho, and sturdy shoes. While a camera and perhaps a laptop computer are mighty nice to have, keep in mind that such items are highly desirable items to steal, too, and must be watched carefully. Both Jim and Mindy are chemically sensitive, and volunteers are asked to bring only natural toiletries that do not have perfume in them. These are actually hard to find these days, and you may prefer to just use the natural soap, shampoo, and deodorant that we will provide you.
PLEASE NOTE... we are a non-drinking, non-smoking family. Wine with dinner is fine, however. We ask if you do choose to have few drinks in town, that you return sober. Using drugs will result in dismissal from the program.
While our land is completely wild and natural and awesdomly peaceful and quiet, it is only two kilometers back into our village of Amelco for a little shopping and three kilometers further on to the much larger town of Riconada for extensive shopping and a daily open-air market.
It is a 50 minute bus-ride on the freeway to Xalapa, the capital of Veracruz, and just a little longer drive in the opposite direction to the Gulf of Mexico and the Port City of Veracruz. Both cities have all major U.S. boxstores like Costco, Walmart, Home Depot, etc. The buses here are plush and made by Volvo and Mercedes Benz. Many major tourist attractions are in this general area such as the world-famous Carrizal Hot Springs with seven pools, Mt. Orizaba (18,491 feet), and the Lencero 19th century hacienda of the infamous General Santa Ana.
THE GANG SO FAR...
Below are pictures of the seven people representing seven countries
who are currently involved in establishing our Eco-community
From left to right, the first five people are volunteers who have come to us via Workaway.info. The two guys at the far right are close friends who will be permanent members of the community.
Please help make our new Eco-community become a reality as well as help SolarHaven2 continue its work through volunteers and Interns who will learn by direct experience working and living sustainably in a real Eco-community and through outreach projects to the local community. As in the past, people all over the world can watch the building of our community on the Internet though a new expanded "Homesteading in Veracruz" web site and learn in detail what and how we did it.
We are now registered on the international "Intentional Community" web site and will appear in the new edition of the "Communities Directory " published world-wide by the FIC (Fellowship of Intentional Communities).
- VOLUNTEER -
- SPREAD THE WORD -
- consider JOINing THE COMMUNITY -
OUR WEB SITES...
"Most of the luxuries and many of the so-called comforts of life are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind"
- Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)
"You must be the change you wish to see in the world"
- Mahatma Gandhi
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© 2014 by Jim and Mindy Phypers -- SolarHaven2, Veracruz, Mexico