Who wants to help me to build a green house? Not a greenhouse for plants, a green house from 100 per cent natural and sustainable materials, for people to live in. I have the skills and the designs, but I need help to build the project. The task has become too great for this grandfather of four to do alone. I'm appealing especially to older people, although young enthusiasts are very welcome too. The project needs the knowledge and skills from life experience and also youthful vigour and enthusiasm. On the plus side young and old volunteers will learn skills such as thatching, stone building, cob building, coppicing, and hedge laying.
I'm a thatcher, stonemason, and landscape gardener, and have created a plan called the Greenpeat Plan, and a website, www.greenpeat.webs.com Most people who have been to heritage days and country shows in the west will have seen me staging demonstrations in thatching and related crafts. The website shows a video of me making rye straw 'bobbins' for the thatched roof comb at the Granlaghan show near Cloonfad in 2011.
Greenpeat is a very wide ranging and ambitious plan with potential to help the climate and the planet's ecology over the years, but in the short term I want to construct a prototype green building. Later I hope to show how a community of similar homes surrounded by a few acres of land, could be virtually self-sustaining, as a model for other communities. We could arrange an informal meeting of like-minded people where I would share my experiences to date and invite your suggestions. Several areas of land may be available but I would be very interested if anyone has land they may be willing to use for this or for sister schemes.
I have built a simple structure in the garden, with a framework of ash poles cut locally, and with thatched walls and roof. It may yet have a thatched floor too. The Japanese have been doing the same with rice-straw tatami mats for generations.
I set myself a specific goal for a larger crannog-like building, using only natural materials and leaving a very light footprint on its bogland environment. No heavy or polluting materials will be brought in. It will be warm and dry, indefinitely sustainable, pest-free, visually attractive, and very strong. It will combine ancient crafts and materials with modern knowledge of building design and physics, and it will produce no greenhouse gases during its construction and lifetime. The materials, in their growing, will clean pollution from the water in the environment. One other point - it will be very cheap to build and will use a combination of identical natural Irish components, easily transported or exported in kit form. Knowledge of building regulations and planning will be needed eventually to establish a compliant standard, and possibly a patent for the design.
At present I am giving design and consultation support for an autism and special needs garden in Co Laois which will include many Greenpeat features. Such a therapy garden may well be created as part of the plan here.
If you are interested in helping to further this plan, get in touch and we will create a small group of volunteers. Anyone with knowledge of setting up a group, of funding schemes, with craft or building skills, wetland or wildlife management, or just a desire to do something to protect the planet's future, is welcome. There is far more than can be explained in a short article, so please take the time to look at the website. Feel free to sign in and make comments both critical and supportive.
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