The proposers have already realised most of this and changed their name to One Planet Building. They/we will use as much of the Earthship design as makes sense, adapting it to suit local materials. For example, the heat mass may be made from stone gathered on our land and quarry rather than the usual tyres filled with rammed earth because the tyres aren’t available nearby. I’d also push for the frame to be sustainably-managed oak; I’ve been offered the trees from the next valley. The point is to use the lowest tech that’s right for the job; so, yes, where we want insulation, straw bale construction would be ideal. However, to gather as much sun-heat as possible, we’d use the same high-tech windows as the Hufs.
How much of this is repeatable by the yeomanry of Calderdale is certainly debatable. Monica and I have pointed out that converting our barn as eco- as possible would hold much more value for the thousands of stone buildings in the valley but they’d rather push for the new build, reserving the conversion as plan B. Far be it from us to dictate their direction; we’ll get our guest accommodation one way or another. The process has already borne fruit because the discussions revealed that, as farmers, we can build pretty much anything we want as a “shed” which can include accommodation for workers. If One Planet fizzles out (the organisation, not the actual planet) then we now have an alternative to the barn conversion that’s likely to be cheaper and more effective and which leaves us the barn for other purposes such as a performance space or artists’ studio.
The discussions have even brought to the fore the idea that I can make a temporary version of that shed from the cypress poles I’ve harvested. This I *will* do, creating a venue for processing the coppice materials—sorting, weaving, splitting, binding etc—plus a cushy camp-out for more adventurous guests and a place to hang my hammock. Pole frame, hurdle walls, turf roof, pallet floor: luxury!
Two of those adventurous guests arrive in a fortnight and will stay the whole summer: niece Rowan (12) and nephew Archie (11). Or maybe, once they’ve finished building my shed, I’ll hide out there for the “summer”!