Creating a More Resilient Homestead

Posted by on Jan 9, 2017

My wife and I have worked for the last five years to create a more sustainable and more resilient homestead at our property in Dummerston, Vermont.

Our highly insulated, solar-powered house is operating on a net-zero-energy basis, and one of our inverters allows us to draw daytime power from the solar array during power outages. We have enough excess solar power to charge our Chevy Volt for our around-town driving. We have developed a spring so will have access to water should we lose power for an extended period of time. We have a half-acre garden, a half-acre of fruit and nut trees, and chickens planned for the spring—all of which will help us become far more food self-sufficient.

We’ve also paid a lot of attention to ensuring that our site will be able to accept the sort of weather events that have caused extensive flooding in our region in the past—most recently with Tropical Store Irene in 2011.

All of these features will come in handy during any extended disturbances or interruptions, whether a major hurricane, a terrorist event that takes down the grid, or something else.

Mother Earth News

An editor of the back-to-the-land magazine, Mother Earth News, heard about our efforts and asked if I would write about how to create a more resilient homestead. I took on the challenge, and the article, “Build a More Resilient Homestead,” came out in the December/January issue.

You can either read the article online by linking to the article here, or download the laid-out article in PDF format from the RDI website: Resilient_Homestead_MotherEarthNews

As always, I’d be interested in any thoughts you might have. Use the comments field below.

-Alex Wilson

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Along with founding the Resilient Design Institute in 2012, Alex is founder of BuildingGreen, Inc. To keep up with his latest articles and musings, you can sign up for his Twitter feed. To receive e-mail notices of new blogs, sign up at the top of the page.

2 Comments

  1. Alex, do you pipe the spring water into the house or is the idea that if needed you can fill up buckets? We have developed the spring on our property (which most likely was formerly piped into the house before city water existed- old maps show a spring house in the backyard) and put in an old cast iron tub to collect water. Most of the time it overflows into the swale but if needed we could fill up buckets from the tub. We had the water tested by UVM extension and to be safe would probably still want to boil it before drinking it, but could use it to flush toilets etc.

    • Kate, we developed the spring last year by setting two concrete well tiles that go down about 5′ below ground where the spring bubbles up with a pipe extending from near the bottom of the tiles somewhat downhill. That spring runs continuously with the outflow continuing into an intermittent stream that feeds our pond. But it is not piped to our house, so during an extended power outage we would have to drive (or walk) up the spring and fill containers.

      I have also been thinking of installing a hand pump in our deep well by the house. Bison Pumps makes a great pump that I would use. It fits into the same well as the submersible pump with the above-ground pump handle unit replacing the sanitary cap on the well casing. But we haven’t done that yet, relying instead on the spring uphill from our house.

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