We finally found an amazing location in Yucatan and completed the purchase at the end of August 2011. We moved to Yucatan in November 2011 and moved on to site February 2012. At the moment we are in the set up stage of the project.
Our aim at Lodgecol is to be 100% environmentally friendly, sustainable, to produce our own energy and organic food, to have zero waste and amazing life quality. We have 10 hectares of arable land with rocks and good soil (unsuitable for mechanisation). We also have an 80m (240ft) diameter sink hole or a cenote in which we can swim to cool off and pull our water for all of our needs.
Progress So Far
So far at Lodgecol we have built a 500m access dirt road (with local materials and labour, zero run off and have reused the timbers felled) to arrive at the site, we have built 2 Mayan style cabanas with roofs thatched with the local palm leaves (guanos), we have built access stairs to the cenote so we can swim. We have built a path around the cenote and also to the plantation area. We have built an outside composting toilet with a thatch roof which we believe is a world first in that it has rain water harvesting which we plan on rolling out to the main house later. It also has a bottle light, again as an experiment but works really well. We have built a picnic table for 8, largely from scrap wood, we have also made a working table by using a scrap metal table and modifying it to meet our needs. We have also built some raised beds from scrap tyres which has also cleaned a local dump spot. We have built a chicken house with capacity for 100 free range chickens with rain water harvesting. We now have solar power, a solar fridge and a solar powered submergible pump too. We have also made some of our own solar panels (don’t try this at home!). We have planted 250 fruit trees and over 1000 tropical hardwood trees and also made a solar drier.
We are aiming at being self sufficient (or as close as we can be). To this end, we have done some extensive planting for fruit trees which we have done without cutting down more forest, but making use of areas which have previously been cleared. We want this to mature into a sustainable forest garden which needs very little maintenance work, no chemicals and little if any water. We have a hugely diverse range of 250 perennial fruit trees which will give food every year and without needing to be planted like annuals. We have also planted 50+ papayas and bananas which are short lived perennials. The diversity means that we will not have all of each crop in one or two weeks which would be too much to deal with but spread over time. Also, if one crop fails due to say a problem with insects, we still have others that will supply us. Most of the trees are local to the area and all of which are organic. We have planted: mango (8 types – ataulfo, pina, petacon, manglova, paraiso, tomy, pico de loro, manila), guananbana, peach, 6 types of Mexican plum, choch (???), papaya, siricote (like crab apples), maranyon (cashew nut), mamey (a sweet pink adrocado like fruit – 3 types), advacadao – 3 types , dates, bread fruit, yaca (a 6kg fruit like guanabana), banana (5 types: manzana, plantain, balbaro, curro, red) citrus (2 types yellow lemon, Mexican lime, green and red mandarin, sweet orange, blood grapefruit, cajera (type of orange), cidron (grapefruit type), blackberry, star fruit, mangostan, figs, pistachio, zapote chico (of chewing gum fame but also has fruit) and black zapote, cacao (of chocolate fame), coffee, pepper, cun-che (an endangered tree with fruit somewhat like papaya), jicara (a type of fruit used not for eating but for making bowls from the shells), saramuyo, guaya, coconut (3 types), caimito morado and verde, red, yellow and green, nance blanco (savoury sac-bah), passion fruit, carob, rambutan, lychee, guayaba, chalahuites, cat, pomegranite, tamarind, grosella, red black and green mulberry, pecan nuts, grapes. We also have moringa and neem which are both edible and medicinal. We also have lemon grass.
Vegetables – are largely annuals so are dependent on season and planting. They include: sweet potatoes, maize, tomatoes, chillies, peppers, cucumbers, pumpkins, squash, lettuce, pak-choi, courgettes (zucchini), marrows, beans… Herbs and spices – pepper, basil, coriander (cilantro), peppermint, spearmint, oregano, calendula, rosemary, thyme, camomile, vanilla, lavender, cinnamon, ginger…
Nuts and beans – coconut, peanuts, pecans, chestnuts, pistachio, cashew, coco (cacao),We have a selection of perennial vegetables which we want to expand and propagate taro, artichoke, nopales (edible cactus), chaya (a kind of bush spinach), chayote, yucca and air potatoes.
We plan on having annuals next to the house where their daily needs can be met easily. In the mean-time we are experimenting with various types of pumpkins and maize, melons, water melons, beans, peanuts, camote (sweet potato), makal (a huge sweet potato), aloe vera, to see how they grow, what seasons they thrive in, which pests infest them and reduce our production and which natural pesticides (such as chilli and garlic) we can use to control them to some extent.
- Photos of our annaul crops
- Photos of our perennial vegetables, fruit trees, tropical hardwood trees and building materials etc
Future and Imminent Plans
We plan on doing all the work in our job list but in summary we want to build a main house with communal area for reading, playing, sharing, having a beer, relaxing, eating etc. We want to build a shower area with a banana circle to use the greywater and provide some modesty. We want to install rainwater harvesting for some areas. We want to install a large water tank to supply the (future) main house and any planting. We want to install a viewing platform, probably above the water tank. We want to do small projects such as experimenting with solar cooking too. We also plan on reforesting a 2 hectare part of our plot (5 acres) with tropical hardwoods which will sequester carbon, keep the weeds at bay, provide sustainable timber, employ local people and an income for us in the future. We would like to run courses too in the future, for paying guests, on topics from how to build solar panels to how to grow organic vegetables or how to build sustainably.
We think it’s Lodgecol to:
- Use intelligently designed buildings, fittings and appliances to minimise consumption yet still remain comfortable
- To maximize the use of local materials which are also renewable
- Minimise transport miles for us, and where travel is necessary, pick the right mode for the job. Cycle where possible, use full vehicles, offset carbon used.
- Make use of the natural resources available without harming the environment
- Reduce, reuse, and recycle
- Find ways that we can get nature to work in our favour, rather than losing a battle of force and chemicals
- Show ideas and technologies you could use at home for a better eco-living
- Substantially reduce fossil fuel energy consumption and aim at zero or negative carbon living
- Have delicious food grown on site without chemicals, with zero transport miles and which is in season or preserved by natural methods for use out of season
- Relearn about methods of storing food to minimise waste packaging and minimise wastage and transport miles
- Improve the local and global environment rather than harming it
- Support the local economy
- Learn what works locally and augment it with clean modern ideas and technologies
- Have space for you to get involved
…and all in a fantastic environment where you can relax!
What’s to do @ Lodgecol:
– get involved in: digging, planting, fencing, feeding, shovelling, growing, learning, fertilizing, seeding, mulching, carrying, filtering, weeding, composting, playing, understanding, designing, canning, planning, collecting, foraging, eating, sleeping, connecting, relaxing, swimming, cycling, juicing, playing, bird and animal watching, harvesting, rock climbing, walking, rope-swinging, building, dreaming, listening, reading, drinking a beer at sundown, watching the stars at night or chatting over a mezcal…
See our photos of what we are up to at Lodgecol here.