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Hélène Dubé and her partner Alain Neveu from Es-Cargo have lived off-grid in Quebec, Canada for 11 years in a self-built earthship style home made of recycled tires filled with earth and large south-facing windows. Their water is gravity-fed from a spring-filled cistern placed up the hill from their home, their power comes from solar energy, and they use a composting outhouse toilet. For refrigeration, they make their own ice during the winter by freezing water in recycled windshield washer jugs outside, and then they store them in a root cellar inside unplugged chest freezers insulated with sawdust. They manage to keep their food cold with homemade ice blocks from January to July, and then they get ice blocks from a neighbour. For hot water they use approximately 200 lbs of propane each year. For heat they have a homemade rocket stove that is an efficient way to burn wood, and they also use it as a cooktop in the winter.
They would eventually like to be self sufficient in their food production and have gardens, hens, and they’ve begun to build an aquaponic system as well. But they do find that growing all of their own food, running workshops, and staying on top of all their other projects to be an incredible amount of work for just two people.
They’re hoping to attract more people to the property to form a small community of inspired and like-minded permaculture enthusiasts. To learn more about Hélène and Alain’s off-grid lifestyle and about any upcoming projects and workshops, you can check out their website and follow them on Facebook. Their posts are in French but they both speak French and English.
Running time: 8 minutes
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‘Life Off Grid’ trailer from Jonathan Taggart (running time: 3 minutes):