Help our off-grid, timber, straw-bale and stone ‘eco-pod’ project happen, then come and stay in it!

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Posted Jan 20 2017 by Cassandra Lishman of Plas Helyg
lammas-ecopod

Hi, my name is Cassie. My daughter is called Bea, she’s the bigger girls in the picture there. She absolutely loves horses! I also have a son called David, who is going to be an actor; my husband is called Nigel, and our eldest son is called Ted. Together we are the Lishman family. We live on a low impact smallholding in the Lammas Eco-village in West Wales.

We moved to Lammas in 2009, and we make our living from the land, keeping animals, growing food, making artisan crafts, and teaching lots of courses, including eco-building

We moved here because we wanted a sustainable life, with fresh air and safe spaces for our kids to play. We also wanted a safe place for our son Ted, who has a learning disability and autism, to enjoy the freedom to wander in a stress free neighbourhood, surrounded by people that know him. There are 8 other families that live here, and lots of them have children.

So here we are, 7 years later, and Lammas is thriving. We receive hundreds of visitors each year, many coming on tours to see the buildings and how we live – some even booking holidays around us! We also get dozens of volunteers wanting to experience this way of life. However, there are no places to stay here, other than if you bring a tent, and not everyone wants to do that! We have been told many times that people would really love to stay in an eco-building here. So we’d love to create some visitor’s spaces with you, and offer it out for everyone to enjoy.

Eco-pod

We have a project to build an ‘eco-pod’ for visitors and friends to stay in, using several natural building techniques. We will build the pods then offer them out for rental. Once built, the eco-pod will offer a total low-impact experience in a small but beautiful self-contained unit, completely off grid. The pod will be built using local slate, straw bales, lime plaster and local wood. It will have solar electricity, and a wood burner to keep you warm. It will use passive solar gain to bring in the sun’s warmth to heat to cob floor.

You can help us build it, by joining us on the build, to learn natural building techniques. Plus you can help us fund the project via this crowdfunder page. All funders will receive rewards over and above the value of their pledge – like natural building courses, holidays in the eco-pod, tours, willow weaving workshops etc. See here for more information and to pledge.

Once the Pod is built, we have got 5 weekend stays on offer, ready for those that want to invest in a retreat away from it all, or want to give that green friend a very special present! We will be making it extra lovely for those that take up this reward – everything will be freshly built, with crisp sheets and chopped wood ready for your first fire, and an organic home-grown breakfast made for you in our lovely pink roundhouse.

However, we have more to offer than just a place to stay. We keep many very friendly animals who also love people, including sheep, geese, chickens and ducks, a pony, a dog and cats. We have a large garden and grow lots of fruit & veg, and we get plenty of eggs. Perfect for your B&B breakfast!

Additionally, the setting of the eco-village is lovely, with long walks in rolling hills and lush landscapes. We are also within a stones throw of the Lammas Community Hub building, where many courses and gatherings are held, perfect if you want to come on a course & book in overnight stay.

But we are offering the chance for you to be a part of this exciting mini self build opportunity in a few other ways.

For adventurous types, you can have the experience of working alongside us, and learning some eco-building techniques yourself.  You will learn about stone walling, straw baling, lime plastering and woodworking. Not to mention the bonus experience of living low-impact, eating homegrown food, and drinking spring water!

Nigel & I have already built 3 roundhouses, a cob walled garden and a cruck frame barn here, with the help of volunteers and on courses, so we have plenty of experience. We are most proud of the a little eco-hut made for our eldest son Ted. It is cosy and lovely, and it is the design that has inspired the eco-pod idea.

Other rewards include private tours of our smallholding and the Ecovillage, bespoke workshops weaving our organic wilow, dedicated tree planting, and receiving a handmade gift in the post. Something for everyone!

Project costs

We have costed the pod up, using our knowledge of natural building materials. We are aiming to build 1 pod, or 2 if we over-fund. The pods will sleep  up to 2 adults & 2 children in each. The costings are as follows, per pod.

Outside of pod:
£350 timber (we will use some of our own)
£50 stone
£150 straw bales
£200 lime
£400 wool insulation for roof
£100 sand
£150 digger
£500 door & window & glass
£100 miscellaneous

So £2000 per pod in materials for the frame.

For the inside:
£200 lovely curvy wood
£1000 for artist woodworking neighbour to make beautiful bed & shelves
£200 wood burner
£300 flue
£500 solar system
£200 mattresses
£150 bed linen (organic of course!)
£200 cob floor
£250 miscellaneous

So £3000 to fully fit the inside, making each pod £5000 in materials.

All of the labour will be provided by ourselves and any of you rugged enough to camp here in the Preseli Hills! We also will be involving local groups in visiting and tasting this building method, including people with a learning disability, like our son Ted.

An eco-pod under construction

A win/win project

We believe this is a win/win project – a great experience for everyone, and a sustainable income for us. Each pod will take around 8 weeks to build, so if we are successful in raising the money for both pods, we can build both of them by the autumn. Maybe you can enjoy a Christmas retreat here with us?

We are really excited about this project, it’s a new way of raising money for us, and what we love about crowdfunding is that it’s really inclusive and open to people everywhere.

We are very much looking forward to welcoming you both onto our team, and maybe even to our home!