Co-Op Village
Free plans for sustainable intentional communities.

Converting a Suburbia Home


How can you convert a typical U.S. suburbia home into a self-sustainable unit in the event you cannot live in a co-op Village?

The answer to this question is more simple than you would think, although it will require changes in you yourself.


FOOD:   To feed one adult a vegetarian diet for one full year would require an initial investment of $300, then no cash outlay in subsequent years. The method suggested, Square Foot Gardening, would allow us to do this on a plot of land only 14 feet by 14 feet. Very little labor would be required other than the first day to set up the growing system. No plowing, soil turning, tilling, fertilizer, pesticides, or major weed pulling is required. Feeble bodied persons can maintain the garden in five minutes early in the mornings. All that would be required in subsequent years is to add a thin layer of new compost to the top of the garden. A minimum amount of water would be needed for hand watering the roots only.

        See: Square Foot Gardening           Web Site     

               See Also: Jim's Additional Square Foot Gardening Notes

        See Also: Seed To Seed       
                         This tells how to cultivate and use seeds.

        See Also: How To Grow More Vegetables     
                         This is an alternate way to garden.

        See Also:  The Humanmanure Handbook
                          This is a free downlaod of the book


        See: My Garden which Feeds 4 Adults


WATER:  Rearrange your rain gutters so that they empty into rain barrels and purify that water. A rain sweep can be installed so that the first dirty water to come off the roof is diverted. A screen cover would protect the captured water from bugs and insects.

            See:   Rainwater         See Also:   Rainwater II             See Also:   Rainwater III

SEWAGE:  Fifty percent of our current water usage is for removing sewage. What is recommended is to invest $25 to build a stand alone inside toilet and on a weekly basis add its contents to a compost pile. This pile will never be needed to be turned or worked in its two year life. It can later be safely used as compost for the garden above, supplying all of the nitrogen needed by the plants. There is no smell, flies or danger of pathogens from this method. This method reduces the water needed for sewage from 1,500 gallons per month to 2 gallons per month, and in the process will feed you.

       See: The Humanure Handbook         Web Site


FOOD STORAGE:  A root cellar might have to be added, such as burying an old refrigerator outside. Canning of vegetables will have to be done.


ENERGY:  There is no easy answer here. First you will have to make your house as energy efficient as possible. This might be achieved by purchasing energy efficient appliances, additional insulation, using air conditioning in one room only, installing a white metal roof to reduce heat, etc.    Next you will have to research to determine if you should invest in solar or wind energy in your location.

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