Mill, gar­den-va­ri­ety fam­ily of six

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - Best Weekend - - FRONT PAGE - PATRICK JONES AND MEG ULMAN

this house was to show­case that any­one can do it. I want other mums and dads out there to know that it doesn’t take any ex­tra funds or spe­cial skills to achieve a beau­ti­ful, func­tional, sus­tain­able home. If we can do this, any­body can; I gen­uinely be­lieve that.”

Booth, who shares her life on Face­book and In­sta­gram as @booken­blend, says when she and Steve bought a block that had sat un­used and unloved for nearly a decade, it “was just our block, we knew it when we first looked at it”. She got out the graph pa­per and sketched her “dream sus­tain­able blended-fam­ily home”. While her draft was trans­lated into draw­ings by a lo­cal build­ing de­signer, it re­mained vir­tu­ally un­changed. It ex­ists in re­claimed tim­ber and bricks, Zin­calume steel, con­crete, steel and dou­ble-glazed glass. me Patrick Jones, Meg Ulman and their son Black­wood at their home in D ayles­ford; be­low, Ulman in their pantry. Pic­tures: Re­becca Michael. ic on en in so­lar ”

“It was al­ways about build­ing an off-the-grid house, but it had to ma­kee sense aes­thet­i­cally, en­vi­ron­men­tally and fi­nan­cially,” Booth says.

That meant track­ing down tim­berr fruit boxes for use as a fea­ture wall; get­ting a mas­sive barn door built out of Vic­to­rian ash floor­boards re­claimed from the lo­cal school; and stum­bling across wooden posts once part of the e Wil­liamstown wharf slip­way.

The house is steeped in Booth’s deeply held sus­tain­abil­ity spirit.

“One day, I hope sus­tain­able de­sign gn prin­ci­ples be­come main­stream, so when you walk into a build­ing com­pany — be it a project home, lo­calal cus­tom builder or a high-fly­ing ar­chi­tec­tural firm — the very first dis­cus­sion you have is how to make best use of your land to build a high­func­tion­ing, low en­ergy home.” For self-de­scribed “neo-peas­ants” Patrick Jones and Meg Ulman, who live on a 1000sq m per­ma­cul­ture plot in Dayles­ford, their life­style work­ing to­wards life off the grid is about much more than not pay­ing power bills. Jones, Ulman and their chil­dren, Ze­phyr, 15, and Black­wood, 4, (AKA “Woody”), are liv­ing the change they want to see in the world. On their prop­erty, dubbed Tree El­bow be­cause it only had two trees on it when they bought it 10 years ago, the cou­ple and home­schooled Woody live in a sim­ple kit home con­nected to a 1kw so­lar sys­tem. The fam­ily, who blog at theartis­tas­fam­ily and are on so­cial me­dia as @artis­tas­famil @artis­tas­fam­ily, har­vest wa­ter pas­sively in swales (low tracts of land)la for their gar­den, which in­cludes 160 fruit and nut trees and rows of veg­etable beds. TheyThe keep poul­try and bees, have bi­cy­cle bi­cy­cles for trans­port, use composting toi­let toi­lets and even butcher road­kill to eat. ““We are also just weeks away from ge get­ting rid of our fridge, as we have b been slowly mov­ing to a none en­ergy-us­ing cool cup­board and c cel­lar, which we built from rocks w we have dug up in our veg­etable b beds,” says Ulman, who works two daysd a week for David Holm­gren, co-orig­i­na­torc of the per­ma­cul­ture con­ “We are work­ing to­wards ourou home be­ing off grid. We don’t trav­el­trav by aero­plane, we don’t own cars, and w we have sold our dish­washer, gas heater anda hot-wa­ter sys­tem and many other ap­pli­ Nei­ther of us have lived with a TV in our adult lives. We have a lap­top each and a wash­ing­was ma­chine, but that’s about it.” While still c con­nected to mains power, their small so­lar sys­tem feeds back into the grid, neu­tral­is­ing their power bills. All of their power for hot wa­ter, heat­ing and cook­ing is from wood fuel that they col­lect in wheel­bar­rows. By cook­ing, fer­ment­ing and pre­serv­ing their own food and drinks and trad­ing with like­minded fam­i­lies, they haven't shopped at a su­per­mar­ket for eight years. The pair hope their life is an ex­am­ple to oth­ers. “While I didn’t dream of liv­ing like this when I was younger, I cer­tainly yearned to live a life deeply em­bed­ded in com­mu­nity, in har­mony with the nat­u­ral world and in line with my val­ues and phi­los­o­phy, which I do by liv­ing in this way.”

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