Off-grid ecovillage resists fire & improves mountain-long Earthship
Dan Schultz spent 15 years building his off-grid self-sufficient utopia with whimsical homes and trees and gardens that produced enough fruit, nuts and produce to feed the half dozen residents for much of the year. The one thing they worried about was fire and last August their fears were realized.
Caught in the path of the Smith River Complex fire that burned for 86 days and consumed nearly 100,000 acres, Dan’s ecovillage suffered some major losses: the 3 story lodge that housed 4 or 5 people burnt to the ground, as did their community kitchen and A-frame cabin, but other buildings survived with just broken windows, like the huge Earthship greenhouse, or with minor charring, like the Hobbit Hole shelter.
One of the toughest losses for Dan was all the perennial food sources, or what made them truly a permaculture – “permanent agriculture” – homestead. “The orchard trees, you work for years to nurture them,” explains Dan. “They’re like your children, you know. We had 100 fruit and nut trees, we produced a couple thousand pounds of food from our orchard trees”.