[April 2, 2016] BadSeed House Completion: The Birth of a Home
On March 23, 2016, the client of the BadSeed House in Kansas City Missouri officially moved into their new home. We received the most touching letter from them, Dan and Brooke of Urbavore Farm, shortly afterward. We thought we would share some of that letter.
From the client:
In a few short days I will give birth in this home.
A large tub of water will sit warm & full in the living room. As the sun sets, rises, or shines hot through the vast window walls, my child will come into this world, never knowing the pain & hardship that went into creating this space.
My husband Dan built this home and together we built this farm. Day in & day out we’ve toiled intensely, maniacally, sometimes joyously, but always with such pure intent, such raw emotion, and unwavering dedication.
The house sits on the highest point of our 13-acre urban property just 5 miles east of the Plaza. It overlooks an apple orchard to the east and more orchards & vegetable fields to the west with a bedazzled view of downtown when the sun sets & the city lights up. It is an unassuming, passive solar, earthbermed shelter nestled in the cool belly of the earth. The north concrete retaining wall is covered with dirt. The dirt continues over the roof which holds a foot of soil. The south retaining wall is covered with dirt six feet up at which point it gives way to a stream of clerestory windows creating a “greenhouse” effect. The east and west walls are glass allowing us to see the sun rise & set. The house is equipped with a wood-burning cookstove, a composting toilet, and a 10 kilowatt solar system which powers our electrical needs in the home and on the farm at large. An extensive off-grid water system uses sand, gravel, and ultraviolet light to purify pond water for potable use. Greywater & blackwater leave the home & go through a similar purification system to water livestock, field crops, and greenhouse seedlings.
In essence, we have spent the last 6 years creating self-sufficient & holistic systems for food production, waste, water, energy, and shelter. Every single penny that has paid for these systems came from the surrounding fields. In fact, it’s those very beets & turnips you’ve bought from me at BADSEED that have funded the entire construction of our home & farm. No banks, no loans, no trust funds...just good old fashioned hard work (mixed with seeds, soil, and sunshine).
Due to the unseasonably warm winter/spring, the season has been jump-started by nearly 5 weeks. Our asparagus came up March 8th, the peach trees have already budded out (sealing their fate of getting frosted later this week), and we are madly planting spring crops to keep up with the times. “Climate change” isn’t a liberal conspiracy, it’s an understatement! Several weeks back, Dan had to abandon ship on the house and psychotically prune close to 300 trees before bud break. He’s now moved-on to blackberries, and while he focuses on the perennial fruits, yours truly has been forced to single-handedly plant our entire spring veggie production while juggling Percy & greenhouse work.
We are a hell of a duo the two of us! I’m waddling around with a baby ready to pop out, working through Braxton-Hicks contractions, barely able to bend over, and pulling ten hour days on my hands & knees. Meanwhile Dan dislocated his rib several weeks back while bending over the cistern for eight hours in an attempt to fix a malfunctioning pump. He worked with the rib out of place for nearly two weeks before getting it popped into place! Still, somehow, despite the challenges, we are getting it done!! The orchards & the fields are taking shape (“hobbit home” standing proudly in the background) and despite our racing emotions & undeniable aches & pains, we persevere. The end goal: get shit planted before baby comes out! After that, Dan is on his own until I can walk again...
So, that’s the “nut-shell” version of the marathon we run each and every day. But it’s not all bad. And in regards to the house, it’s way too easy to focus on the problems when in fact there is so much beauty & nobility in this fine structure that’s been so thoughtfully crafted. So, let me do something a bit out of character: talk positively!
There are certain aspects of the house that simply blow my mind every single day. First, the overwhelmingly gentle ambiance cannot be denied. The weight & honesty of the materials (and the feeling of being immersed in the earth) constantly strike you, purring safety & shelter. Due to the use of nearly 100% non-toxic materials, everything breathes in a beautiful way, creating a sense of calm purity. The sunrises steal your heart, and the sunsets simply stop you in your tracks. Every time I turn on the water I am amazed, envisioning the entire intricate process from the pond, traveling 400 feet through BPA-free pipe, swimming through sand & gravel, landing in a giant cistern, pumping to a pressure tank, streaming through ultraviolet light, and finally traveling through copper pipe into the house and out the faucet. Once the water has cleaned my soiled hands it starts a new journey to purification and ends up in the water bowls of my chickens or soaking the soil of a freshly planted lettuce head. I am equally as intrigued every time I use the toilet and don’t flush, taking ownership for the waste, watching it break down and become a resource to the farm, rather than a nuisance to the city & surrounding environment. All this, powered by the sun, thanks to our solar panels that sit just south of the house. No light, no pump, no electronic goes un-fueled by the rays of the sun. It’s practical, it’s functional, it makes good sense. Then there’s fire...oh the heavenly heat of the stove, the warmth of the hearth, and the sheer joy of cooking with wood! When you see us gather kindling, split wood, and fire up the stove, you cannot argue the fact that we have truly become modern pioneers. It’s a hell of a process, it takes A LOT of time, but it is satisfying in a way that even my hyper fingers cannot convey within the confines of this keyboard. Our stove is an elegant BEAST, the single most expensive thing we’ve ever purchased, and it will cook the meals of my great great grandchildren if well cared for. Waterford Stanley is her name, she comes from Ireland where they’ve been crafting cast iron stoves for over 100 years, she’s stunning, and I’m in love with her..
ps. I am staring at this very sunset out my giant west window as I type. A picture worth a thousand words...