David Craig is currently living in Perth and is building an earthship home just east of town, but what he really wants to do, and soon, is start building a community of earthship buildings in North Frontenac.
Earthships are a home design concept that uses recycled tires, concrete and the structure of the landscape to create homes that can heat themselves by drawing heat from the ground, and are so energy efficient they can be powered with two solar panels and a bank of batteries. All that is needed as a backup is a small wood stove or propane heater. They were pioneered in New Mexico by Michael Reynolds.
David Craig had been working in the traditional building trade when he decided to make a change. He took a course on how to build “Earthship” homes, and since then he has built two of them in Ontario as a contractor. Over the last six years he has developed a more elaborate vision, a community of earthships, a 300 to 400 acre property to be occupied by 300 to 400 people set up in a circle or some other arrangement. The property would include 144 buildings plus other property that would be owned by a community-owned corporation. Families who purchase the homes will have the option of living in them as single family dwellings just like in any other subdivision, or they could contribute to the community, through 3 hours of labour per week towards a community benefit.
“Those who join in and work for 3 hours a week, and they don’t even have to live in the community to join in, will share in the benefits that come to the community. It’s up to the people what kinds of projects they want to pursue, but the idea is that a third of what is produced stays in the community, a third is sold for a profit, and a third is re-invested in the community.”
The Earthship is at the core of the concept because the homes are cheap to build, but more importantly they are off-grid and self heating, making them very inexpensive to live in. They are also greenhouses at the same time and families can grow their own food as well.
“The attraction of this contributional community concept is that once people are able to have shelter, heat, power, and food, their basic needs are met. That frees them up to live the kind of lives they want to live.”
Craig said that by promoting his concept in pubic seminars there are a growing number of people who are ready to invest in earthships and move to a new community.
“This is not a hippie thing, and it’s not about living in the past, or away from the world. The idea is not to be somewhere in the back woods where no one can find us, but as part of a broader community. There is also no rejection of technology. I still want to have high speed Internet and hot showers, and so does everyone else, but this offers people more control over their lives.”
The one thing standing in the way of getting an earthship community under way is a piece of land to build it on and a municipal jurisdiction that is responsive and is willing to develop the zoning and permitting process to allow it to happen.
“I found a perfect piece of property, 720 acres in Frontenac County,” Craig said. He looked up Frontenac County on the Internet and came up with Ron Higgins’ email.
“He responded positively to me, but it turned out the 720 acres is in Central Frontenac. But I have kept up correspondence with Ron Higgins and we had a meeting with the planner and they were very positive about the idea, but in order to do it in North Frontenac I need to find some land in that township.”
Craig said he is looking for at least 300 acres in North Frontenac and that he is ready to start up the project as soon as he finds suitable land.
“I need to find a property yesterday,” he said “because I am ready to start building right away. We have the people, we have the plans, we are ready.”