Alternative Green Construction

The more I experiment with construction using steel shipping containers as the basic building block, the more excited I become.

We just took delivery on two more 40′ X 20′ high cube containers from Atlanta.  That makes five now.  The first one is now a community center outfitted with a kitchen, sound system, 22′ wide movie screen and back stage for our outdoor amphitheater.   The next two are being converted to a big workshop with about 20′ of space between them and a standard sloped roof above.  From day one it was functional as storage and it’s wired up for lighting and shop equipment now.  We plan to insulate and install log siding, so when finished, it will look like a rustic log cabin.

Cost?  Only $1,600 each ($2,000 delivered).  That’s $5.62 per square foot of ready to use, super strong, water tight space.  Think about it; You would pay more than that just for good quality flooring  materials – uninstalled.  Of course, it’s not a finished living space, but the day it’s delivered and set on four corner piers or even some railroad crossties, it’s functional.  There are lots of things I have to do to make it a finished living space.  But I’m finding that I can easily retrofit containers myself with some rudimentary welding skills and some inexpensive used windows and doors.  With a little ingenuity, I can even find angle iron for framing super cheap or free by using discarded bed frames.

Benefits?  Well, start with low cost space.  But there are plenty more:

  1. Low Cost:  as detailed above.  There are literally thousands of these things piling up at the ports because it’s cheaper to make new ones in China than to ship them back empty.
  2. The benefits to the environment of recycling  (less rusting junk in dumps, less energy expended to crush, melt and otherwise repurpose thousands of unused containers, Fewer resources used to harvest new materials (wood, steel, etc.)
  3. Structural Strength:  These things are built to withstand hurricane force winds on the high seas and marine-painted to handle saltwater air.
  4. Convenience:  Ready to use storage space that requires no footings or foundation for temporary use.  Easy to convert with rudimentary skills – at your leisure while they are being used for storage.

If you’re interested in seeing real examples of a great new way to build, call us for an appointment at the Village.  While you’re at it, check out the other sustainable projects;  things like

  • an off-grid rainwater collection system that supplies all our water needs.
  • Organic community gardens, orchards and greenhouse
  • Bio-Diesel driven Listeroid Generator
  • Wood Gasification system that powers generator engines with wood
  • Hydro-electric generator powered by the creek at our 50′ waterfall.

Then, take a hike through primeval forests to Sewanee Creek.  Spend a day and you will want to spend a lifetime in harmony with nature and people.

Calling organic volunteers – wwoofers

The Village on Sewanee Creek is a self-sustaining community on the beautiful Cumberland Plateau.  As we build the community, we could use some help getting our organic community garden off the ground.

We are blessed with some wonderful amenities that make it a pleasure to grow food here.  Like…. a 2,000 square foot high profile, heated green house,  a catfish pond, the beginnings of a forest mushroom garden, fruit tree orchard, a wonderful amphitheater complete with a 22 foot wide outdoor movie theater and live performance stage.  We raise chickens and rabbits.  Miles of trails through our 500+ acre nature preserve complete with caves, waterfalls and rushing creek.   We have an active online farmer’s market nearby in Sewanee at the University of the South.

We are experimenting with steel shipping container construction, off grid power generation (wood gasification and bio-diesel generators).  There are lots of opportunities to learn sustainable living skills and possibly earn some land in the Village.

We will provide primitive shelter.  You are welcome to all the produce you can grow to consume or sell under the Sewanee Creek brand.  Go to my main website at www.sewaneecreek.com for photos and contact information or just email me at info@sewaneecreek.com.

An Abundant, Low-Impact Christmas

Back again after a relaxing Christmas holiday. This was perhaps our most low-impact Christmas ever. We just vegged in our cozy home with the sounds of the babbling brook just outside our back door while we worked together assembling a big puzzle. I’m not usually one for puzzles as they seem like a waste of potentially productive time. But sometimes that’s just what we need as background to slow-flowing, deep conversation with those we love most.

Our absence of focus on things commercial was periodically interrupted all Christmas morning as we took turns asking each other,
“well, should we take a break to open presents?”
Followed quickly by, “Naah, there’s no hurry”.
I think that puzzle strangely resembled our compost pile in that it slowly created rich soil for discussion with our teen-age daughter. I had no time left for blogging, gardening or anything else. Without a doubt, it was the highest and best use of my time for the holidays.

I want to recommend some of the gifts I received, particularly two sets of wonderful books. This morning I’ve been absorbed in Bill Mollison’s seminal work, Permaculture Design Manual. I’m also looking forward to consuming Dave Jacke’s Edible Forest Gardens (both for knowledge and the fruits). Both are huge repositories of knowledge on sustainable living. These are the gifts that truly keep giving for a lifetime.

I just got a call from a new friend who flew in to Nashville last night and is on her way for a visit to the Village. We have carried on a delightful correspondence and are looking forward to welcoming her into our family for a couple of days.

We hope your Christmas has been as relaxing and peaceful as ours. God has surely blessed us with all we need and much much more. We live in marvelous times.

Nature Preserve: The Flat Rock on Sewanee Creek

Last Summer I did a couple of short videos and posted them on youtube.  They are a bit bumpy and amateurish, but I think you’ll get the idea.   About 500 of our 750 acres will remain wild, designated as a nature preserve.

This video features a place called flat rock where Johnson’s Creek and Sewanee Creek come together.  The bottom of the creek here almost looks like poured concrete it’s so broad and flat.

Check out the fish and the swimming hole.  Flat Rock is near the cave that’s featured in my photo gallery.

Movie: Our 1st Hike down from the Waterfall to Sewanee Creek

This movie, posted on youtube is not a cinematic masterpiece.  My son shot it with his digital still camera and it’s pretty bumpy. But I think it shows the quiet grandeur of nature on the Cumberland Plateau.  Tennessee’s Mountain forests are incredibly beautiful, pristine and peaceful.