A primary visit site in Alaska was the Bioshelter. While doing research on this experimental dwelling, I discovered that it is owned by the only permaculture teacher in Alaska, Cindee Karns. Her husband, Curt, is the Executive Presbyter (like a bishop) of the Yukon Presbytery (like a synod), which encompasses the whole State of Alaska. Cindee is also the founder of the Alaska Cold Climate Permaculture Institute. It was amazing to discover these connections, related both to religion and permaculture at this well-known site. And we had a lovely visit.
The Bioshelter was built in 1987 as an experimental design for Alaska housing. It collects rain and snow melt into two 5,000 gallon tanks and recycles it over and over again. Waste is also recycled on site using composting toilets. It’s an impressive combination of inventive devices, ponds, and plantings that assist in this work. There is no well or septic system.
Here Cindee demonstrates her process for generating worm castings, a potent way to build soil. We are in the greenhouse she designed and built into a very steep hill alongside her garage.
Here’s the South-facing front of the Bioshelter. You can see the greenhouse-like design of the original house.
Here’s some of the water processing infrastructure inside.
This is taken from the living room looking into the internal greenhouse and showing some of the interior kitchen.
Here’s more of the water treatment equipment in the basement.
Cindee and her husband have made significant improvements in the systems over their ten years living in the Bioshelter. It’s an impressive and inspiring example of what can be done with water and waste recycling, as well as food production, in a sub-arctic climate. Electricity, however, comes from the grid. Alaska is too far north for solar-based electricity production to be cost-effective.
Great visit. New friend.