Wildside cottage is near the top of a south-facing slope, and is off-grid. Electricity, radiant heat and domestic hot water are all solar-powered. The outside walls are double, with a foot of light cellulose insulation in between. All windows are double-glazed, with small windows to the north and 8-foot windows to the south, southeast and southwest for maximum solar gain. The sod roof helps insulate in the winter, and its plantings transpire to help cooling in the summer.
We do not suffer!
The sunny cottage looks out on a 180-degree view of nearby meadows and forested hills, and feels far more spacious than its modest 780 sf. We have a solar-powered refrigerator, dishwasher, computer, printer, radio, wide-screen tv, washer and dryer.
There is also a small barn, an ample root cellar and a 240 sf glass greenhouse.
Wildside is well on its way to demonstrating how a small property maintained much of the time by one half-time person, plus a part-time intern, plus occasional consultants, can produce and store food for many now and for decades to come.
Our eight up and down acres with granite ledge and long, soggy meadow are not suitable for conventional farming -- and yet have been transformed into an enormously productive 'edible landscape'. The four acres or so under cultivation consist of seven gardens carefully tucked into seven distinct microclimates, with more than 100 food crops and supporting 'guild' plants.
Permaculture food crops and their companion plantings dominate: fruits, nuts, tubers, perennial herbs, a large asparagus bed and a half-dozen exotic perennial vegetables. Nitrogen-fixing plants and plants that accumulate nutrients useful to other plants produce natural fertilizers. An organic, no-till storage garden grows familiar annuals like beets, parsnips, carrots, cabbage, rutabaga, garlic, onions, squash and sweet potatoes for winter fare.
A 450 sf rice field is being cultivated using an experimental dry field method called SRI, or system of rice intensification -- which some predict may yield more than the traditional wet paddies that have been favored worldwide for thousands of years.
Insects, reptiles, amphibians, birds and mammals move in and out of the human project. Great care is taken to maintain a healthy web of living creatures of all kinds, from beneficial subsoil bacteria and fungi to native pollinators, songbirds, raptors, rodents, rabbits and the occasional fox, coyote, deer and bear. Wild plants, from spring ephemerals to forage salad greens to mixed stands of hardwoods and evergreen, are cherished for their beauty -- and, sometimes, for their usefulness.