Many of our guests have been interested in how we practice permaculture on our property. We frequently give tours after breakfast to show how permaculture works and to help guests get an idea of how they can use permaculture principles on their own property to have a more earth-friendly sustainable landscape.
One permaculture element that is readily apparent when entering the property at Cedar House Inn & Yurts is the ditches that seem to be everywhere. Some guests have wondered what are they for? They are swales.
We began digging our swales several years ago. After strong rains we noted where the rain water travelled on the property and that helped us determine where we should locate our swales.
Why have swales you ask?
Swales take rainwater that would normally run off the property and send the water into the ditch to be stored for later use. The water in the ditch is slowly released underground after a rain and also helps the mycorrhizal fungi that lives in the soil. Why help the fungi? The fungi attach to the root nodules on the many fruit and berry plants we have planted and help the plants in the uptake of water and soil nutrients.
Our swales are dug on contour to catch water traveling downhill after the rain. The swales are 1 – 2 feet deep and 1 -2 feet wide. The dirt taken from the ditch is used to make a berm on the lower side of the slope that is used for planting fruit and berries as well as nurse plants. In the future we will talk about nurse plants.
Bottom line is that we think swales are swell and encourage others to add them to their landscapes. You will have happier soil and plants.
Cedar House Inn has been awarded the Gold level GreenLeader into the new TripAdvisor® GreenLeaders™ program, which helps travelers plan greener trips by identifying environmentally-friendly accommodations across the U.S.
TripAdvisor GreenLeaders have met a set of environmental standards developed for TripAdvisor by a leading environmental consulting firm, with input from expert partners. The more green practices a hotel has in place, the higher its GreenLeader level, which is shown on the property’s listing on the TripAdvisor site.
Travelers can now search for accommodations that have a GreenLeaders status on the TripAdvisor site, and view a detailed list of environmentally-friendly practices that they can expect at each location.
“TripAdvisor GreenLeaders are leading the hospitality industry in making efforts to improve their environmental footprint,” said Jenny Rushmore, director of responsible travel at TripAdvisor. “We greatly applaud these accommodations and are pleased to share their eco-friendly practices with our online audience of more than 200 million travelers.”
The TripAdvisor GreenLeaders program was developed in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR® program, the U.S. Green Building Council, and the United Nations Environment Programme. For more information, please visit www.tripadvisor.com/GreenLeaders.
We filmed a short video today showing the progress made on the garden area using a permaculture sheet mulching technique. We also cleared the hill above the garden of the pine trees and planted peaches and blueberries that will provide breakfast ingredients in the future. The pine trees were used to make a living fence to keep out larger animals and to provide a habitat for birds. In the future we will provide more video updates.
At Cedar House Inn my wife and I have attempted to create a sustainable earth friendly environment. We recycle, buy local, conserve natural resources and live somewhat frugally compared to others. We visited the half off sale at our local thrift store today and purchased slightly used clothing for ourselves.
The following video features a family in California that takes sustainability and living simply to the fullest.
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Many guests that stay in one of our yurts find the composting toilets interesting. We decided to have them in the yurts since we did not have water or septic to the area. We also wanted to give yurt guests the convenience of not having to go to the bathhouse in the middle of the night to use the toilet.
The composting toilets are made by Sun Mar in Canada. They require no water, septic and have no odor. A fan in the toilet pulls air through the toilet and is vented to the outside. The air also helps dry out the liquids. Liquids also go to the bottom of the toilet in an enclosed drying area with a heater.
Solids and toilet paper stay in the bio drum chamber and compost over time. Bacteria is added to the unit occasionally to help eat the toilet paper. When the bio drum starts to fill we remove some of the contents into the finishing drawer where the substance finishes composting.
The finished compost is placed in our flower gardens and around the trees.
For more information visit composting toilets.
This is one of the ways Cedar House Inn and Yurts is using composting.
At the inn we compost just about everything from raw food scraps from breakfast preparation to cooked food the guests do not consume. Fortunately Mary Beth’s breakfasts are well received and most guest’s plates are cleaned of food. Our dog Stu also likes to eat some leftovers but he needs to be on a diet.
For the cooked food that most people throw in the trash can or garbage disposal we use the Green Cone Cooked Food Composter. All kinds of cooked food from pasta to meat can go in the cone and it is gone forever. No odors have been noticed in the 5 plus years we have used ours. It also does not seem to attract animals or flies. All the contents is contained underground.
To learn more visit our eco store section on our web site link shown in the top right corner of this blog.