It’s been a great year for Eco Homes, with our busiest ever Open Eco Homes weekend and Eco Homes Fair. On October 29th was our 7th annual fair, and each year it seems to be even more popular! There were an estimated 500 visitors, and the talks, straw bale demo and Pop-Up Thai café all proved extremely popular, with the café serving 150 people over lunch!
Two weeks prior to the fair TTT held the 9th Open Eco-Homes Weekend, during which 17 exciting homes and projects in and around Totnes were open and received more than 670 visits in total.
One home, the newly built ‘Earth Spring’, was visited by over 150 people, and featured sustainably sourced timber, passive solar design, triple glazed timber windows, solar PV, and extremely high levels of insulation among other features. Making use of the abundance of local suppliers and craftspeople was an important part of the project. Locally sourced and natural materials include cedar from Parke and near Seal Hayne and sycamore from Riverford, milled by Dart Valley Timber and turned into a beautiful kitchen counter and shelves by local craftsmen Duncan Passmore and Roger Kidd; larch also from Riverford features in the balcony. Local ecological building specialists Terra Perma acted as main contractor and project manager for the build.
Other popular homes included Broadhempston CLT, a self-build project of 6 eco-homes, which hosted two tours. After 18 months of hard work all the families have moved into their homes and the tours offered an insight into the ups and downs of self-build. The homes, built of timber frame with straw bale insulation, also feature passive solar design, integrated solar spaces, thermal mass, solar panels and an ecological waste water treatment system.
In spite of the rain, around 30 people joined Transition Homes CLT (perhaps lured by the offer of cake) to discuss the progress of their planning application and to ask questions about the planned scheme, which features 70% affordable housing, and local natural materials. They were rewarded with sunshine and a beautiful rainbow over Clay Park. Transition Homes is on the verge of receiving a decision on their planning application, and the current plans differ very little from those submitted to SHDC in December, except for changes in the parking provision and layout.
The beautiful and quirky Cob House in Dartington also attracted a crowd of around 35 for a tour by builder and owner Paul, who gave an informative talk on building with cob and using natural materials.
On the Friday, a group of 12 visitors to Totnes, from Italy, German, The Netherlands, Denmark, China, Japan and USA, joined a tour led by Hal Gillmore on an eco development theme, visiting various sites around Totnes including the Civic Hall (solar PV) and featured eco homes Earth Spring, Miracle House and 3 Brooklands, and discussing projects over the last 10 years including Transition Streets, Incredible Edible, Garden Share, EDAP, and REconomy.
Both events were really successful and it’s reaffirming to see the growing interest in sustainable building, and for all the efforts made by the organising team and the generous hosts who open their homes to be rewarded. Plans are already underway for 2017, so please get in touch with us if you’d like to take part in any way. Mary Popham - firstname.lastname@example.org / 01803 867358
Ben Bryant, coordinator for Devon Community Recycling Network enjoyed his first Eco Homes fair:
"The opportunity for Devon Community Recycling and Composting Networks (DCRN & DCCN) to have a stall at the Eco Fair was really appreciated, with my colleague Nicky Scott and I fielding numerous questions about how we can all work together to reduce-reuse-recycle and compost more in the Totnes area; we covered a number of topics relating to better use of resources and rethinking waste as resource. Importantly ideas were developed upon that we hope to crystalize into significant local action e.g. community composting around Totnes with the added value of Biochar.
Absolutely everybody we spoke with expressed enthusiasm and positivity about the forthcoming Share Shed or ‘Library of Things’ which opens in Totnes next spring. DCRN is supporting this exciting project from the Network of Wellbeing, which was so well received on the day - we received numerous pledges for donations of household items to help stock the shop and also some offers of voluntary support, all vital to the success of the project. I think many of us felt slightly embarrassed about the amount of unused household stuff we have squirrelled away which could be put to good use!
The fair shows how important it is to bring local people together to share ideas and inspiration, and to gain encouragement from connections made. It can only help to increase the town’s resilience and response to ever present environmental and wellbeing problems currently being faced by humankind...."
Well said Ben!
You can see details of all of the participating properties and the exhibitors from the fair here.