Dear friends, here we are sharing the journey we have set on with our eco home building.
We started building a Cob house in the Himalayan Mountains in India which has been a dream for many years, now coming to life.
--- Our beautiful valley ---
The decision to build a house from environmentally friendly materials has some background story: In the Valley and the the villages around, with the increasing tourism "Civilisation" is reaching at a tremendous speed which has it´s toll on nature. Trash and plastic is brought here and left in the forest. The style of building from natural materials has changed rapidly to nearly exclusive use of reinforced Concrete and steel which means that for the production and transportation of these materials massive amounts of fossil fuel is consumed, all of which is a huge ecological footprint.
Now in this time global changes are happening to an extend that many people experience it first hand. Hottest temperatures are recorded in many countries, rising year by year. Ice is melting, clean water is getting more difficult to access and so many more catastrophes are happening, that it makes us wonder if there will be a place and nature left for the generation to come...
So it seems like it is not enough anymore to focus just on ourselves and our own environmental impact. So it´s time to take it a step further and try to influence our social surrounding as well. And that can be done best by being, doing and giving visible examples and sharing knowledge and awareness about our responsibility for mother nature.
---Together we are strong ;-) breaking Stones and laying the foundation with friends and volunteers. ---
Building with reinforced concrete is the "new way" of building here which has all the already mentioned, huge environmental impacts. With 4 or more months of winter and snow the insulation of these concrete buildings are absolutely insufficient, which means burning more wood or fuel to keep warm.
Natural Buildings are focused on using local materials. In our case the next motorable road is more than 40 minutes away. So this encourages us further to take the materials from the building site itself. Everything else needs to be carried up on our backs and that's some workout :)
---digging the foundation trench---
For the Himalayan Climate Earthbag Building with an insulation from hempcrete and some passive solar design is the best choice. Earth homes have natural insulation and can be constructed in any style and form, letting the creativity run free!
With our little home we would like to give an example to the nearby villages and be able to help them plan and construct their own "earth homes" with advice and hands-on-help.
I´ve seen it happen, how one example can totally change the view of people around. I was working with friends on an Adobe construction (on site produced Earth-clay blocks). The local community was very sceptical in the beginning and told us nobody is building with clay anymore, concrete is much better and stronger. Once the project was ready, the same people came back and were amazed from the beauty and the feeling of those natural buildings. Next thing we knew, they asked for help to do their own construction in a similar manner.
That is an even bigger dream than the house itself... To be a positive impact towards a change for the better...
So now we come to the part where we need a distant helping hand. Mud is "dirt cheap" as they often say in books or instructions about natural buildings. That´s why we started heads on into our project without considering and planning all the costs that would come up on our way. We had been planning on building our whole house from solely materials we had available near our land. However, now we are on a time limit to finish off our house before the winter comes. And this is where we need your help.
We have the following major costs:
- Metal sheets for roofing
- Wooden roof structure
- Empty bags to fill with earth and use as wall construction
- Lime for plastering
- Binder for Insulation mixed with hemp shiv to create hempcrete
- Pipes for plumbing, Kitchen and Bathroom
- Costs for cutting and transporting the wood flooring
We believe if everybody contributed his/her part, Mother Earth would have plenty to provide for all beings on this earth equally.
What we do besides building:
We have been living closely connected to nature and trying to minimize the impact we humans have on our environment. We reduce our plastic waste to by buying unpackaged food from the shop, getting our milk directly from the villagers, making our yogurt and cheese from this, by expanding our knowledge on edible wild plants and mushrooms and growing our own vegetables. That leaves very little non organic trash. Our year round transportation is mostly by foot and the rest is by public transport, (except for the yearly flight).
Most things we need, we make ourselves which includes baking our own Bread and Cookies in a clay oven (even in the wilderness one needs cookies:) ), making herbal Soaps and creams and extracting Oils. We brew our own Vinegar, cider & Beer, Kombucha, Kefir, and Kimchi.
--- homemade purple flower vinegar---
We make our own jam from the seasonable fruits we collect. For now we live in a local wood house and use solar power.
--- making Apricot jam ---
The way we live here is very minimal, we are simply going back to the roots and doing this by surrounding ourselves with beautiful nature.
The knowledge and the connection locals have to the plants seems like common sense. Learning this knowledge and applying it makes us realize that once these things become a part of our daily lives, they do come so naturally. In the season we prepare salads and green soups from wild plants collected from the forest and meadows around. We collect medicinal plants and mushrooms and use them to boost the immune system, to help fight colds and fevers etc... We also make infused oils and tinctures to preserve their healing powers.
We cultivate an organic garden with some permaculture influences where we grow a lot of herbs and vegetables. We collect Apricots, Apples, wild berries and edible flowers to make our jams and vinegar from them to provide us with the sweetness of life all year round :)
Everyday we learn new things about the plants and mushrooms growing around us in abundance, when one day a plant is just a plant with pretty flowers, the next day it becomes a part of our daily diet, a medicine we use or an oil we apply. This process is no different than getting to recognize people and learning about their characters, and building a connection with them. We have many wild friends now, yet there is still so much to learn, and who knows what lies under the tall growing leaves or in between the cracks of a giant rock.
---beating the hemp to seperate fiber and core. Fibers for plaster, core for "hempcrete" - insulation ---
We are also learning and applying some traditional handcrafts and skills. That´s another beautiful world to explore.
We do some Carpentry, we weave baskets and walls from branches of willow trees and various vines, we get fibers from plants for weaving, which used to be the only way of making ropes and strings in the villages not so long ago, we make some simple kitchen utensils and household items from natural materials.
--- weaving basket from willow & vine ---
Normally we sustain our self by collecting, making and selling natural products. With a building side by side that turned out to be difficult.
Perspectives for the future:
Once our base, our home, will be ready, we would love to share the skills and knowledge we collected over time. With locals, with friends and volunteers and in form of courses and camps. Maybe there is something you would like to learn with us?
Therefore please support us in witch ever way you can.
> If you have the financial means with a donation.
> If you would like to come around for some hands-on-help and join the fun, you are more than welcome.
> Or you spread our campaign, to enable us to complete our house and our dream.
Thank you for your support
Be happy :)