“Non-permanent mobile homes”

Thoughtful use of the earth’s resources, energy conservation, storm water infiltration/management, preservation of our amazing soil for future generations, flexibility, economy, operational efficiency, predator management, and deepening relationships with our non-human Community of Life: these–and other essential aspects of true sustainability–point to a simple solution for providing shelter for the people involved with the farm: “non-permanent mobile homes”, also known as “RVs” or “campers”.

A small camper does not interfere with drainage, can easily be moved where it is needed, provides self-contained sanitation and water facilities, provides shade, protection from insects, a dry place, privacy for changing clothes as needed for different tasks, storage for records and delicate instruments, a place to secure small personal items while working, break and siesta space, and dwelling space for volunteers from out of town. Construction sites use them all the time. Kind of a no-brainer, to me.

Nor is it a new concept. Turtles were the real pioneers in this endeavor. Then, the nomads of Biblical days and more recent followed their flocks in tents. In the early days of our  country, covered wagons served as home until a homestead could be claimed and a rudimentary cabin built. To this day, classic sheep camp wagons meet the basic needs of shepherds in the open ranges, and on thousands of farms across the country employees, interns, apprentices, volunteers, and contract workers are happy to live in simple, portable “homes”.  When the outdoors is your workplace and living room, you don’t need a conventional house with all the bells and whistles.

This section of the Pinwheel Farm web site chronicles our long, arduous road to being allowed to implement this simple, sustainable solution to so many of our basic needs.

In 2014, the long-deferred Conditional Use Permit was once again brought before the Planning Commission. Although denied there, it was taken before the County Commission. The County Commission denied the  permit, based on their opinion that most of the activities for which approval was sought were already permitted by right. The County Commission maintained that (counter to previous Zoning and Codes and Board of Zoning Appeals decisions) “volunteers” do, in fact, meet the definition of “employed at the farm”.

This means that Pinwheel can officially host WWOOFers or other volunteers/farm participants who have RVs.  Pinwheel’s owner, residents, friends, and family can finally camp at the farm. Hurray! 

It also means that Pinwheel can use an RV of its own to provide accommodations for volunteers.

MOVING FORWARD

When time and money allow, we are set to begin renovations on an old camper that is being donated to the farm. It will be established as an off-grid residence for farm volunteers. The hope is that it will be the cornerstone of a small dacha-type community at the farm–private off-grid “Tiny Home” plots with private gardens, nestled within the larger farm. Residents will participate in the daily work of the farm in some congenial manner.

If sufficient interest and organization coalesces between folks, such that sufficient funding is contributed, the main farmhouse could serve as a common house for a dacha community. This would provide space for gatherings, food preservation projects, laundry facilities, and more.

The septic system that once served the Tan House could be renovated to provide an approved dumping station for RVs, campers, and portable toilets used at the farm.

Will you build a Tiny House on Wheels to live in at the farm, and raise your own specialty garden while helping with Pinwheel’s sheep, poultry, vegetables, orchards, grounds, etc.? Will you WWOOF at Pinwheel while traveling across the country? Will you bring your family tent for a farm adventure weekend? Will you enjoy a spiritual retreat while keeping a watchful shepherd’s eye on peacefully grazing sheep?

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