Thank you, thank you, thank you for the overwhelming support we are receiving following our house fire; from the fire fighters who were so great on the day, to the friends nearby making sure everything is alright, the hundreds of people who joined us in the dream these last few years to the multitudes sending love and material assistance from afar.
Fifteen years ago, expecting our first child, my wife and I needed somewhere to live. We were committed to living exciting and authentic lives true to our own natures, and the good nature of all living things.
With no previous experience, we learnt to build our own home, using the materials and resources available to us. We found the process easy, cheap and quick as well as a fun creative challenge. It also gave us a beautiful, natural home tailored to our needs and dreams.
Much to our surprise, our ‘hobbit house’ went viral on the internet and we were overwhelmed with messages of encouragement, and how it had inspired so many people the world over. Seeing how much it meant to the world, we committed to taking it a step further by joining the Lammas ecovillage project and setting up a whole low impact smallholding of integrated natural systems to support human living. This time it would be on land that we could call our own, and with the permission of the local government.
Over 3 years of planning and 9 years of action, we have worked hard on our land there. We built a small, quick, and simple home when we arrived, using natural materials, timber, clay and stone from the land. We landscaped the bare hillside and planted thousands of trees to create a network of distinct areas with protected microclimates. We have kept animals, planted and worked with existing regeneration to create resilient ecosystems of edible perennials, wild plants and annual vegetable gardens.
As well as providing our water, electricity, firewood and building materials, the land has supplied us with the vast majority of our food needs, from potatoes to peaches, and halloumi to hams. It has also yielded materials such as timber, leather and wool which have allowed us to make and mend so many of the items needed for our living. It has proven to us that it is quite possible to take a modest size area of average land, and within a few years for it to sustain a good and comfortable life. That with good design and a resourceful approach, deeply sustainable living is entirely realistic and immediately possible.
To complete the whole plot, we started building our ultimate dream of a 3 bedroom low impact home. In part this was to be our family home and in part it was an opportunity to share the process and skills that we had learnt with others. The challenge we set ourselves was to create a home that would match or exceed contemporary expectations of performance, beauty and luxury, whilst retaining the ultra-low ecological impact of our previous builds.
For 4 years we worked on this new house, compromising nothing on ambition, quality of workmanship, or ecological integrity. On new years day 2018, a fire reduced the house to just its foundations. As yet we do not know what our next steps will be. Whatever happens we will continue to follow our dreams and live well for the well being of all living things. We would like to express our deepest gratitude to the local fire fighters and to all those who have kindly made donations to help us in whatever comes next.
Whilst the building we started will not become the home of our dreams that we had hoped and worked for, it has been a success in terms of learning and experience for ourselves, and the hundreds of people who have worked with us on the project. To every single one of these people we send our love and thanks. We hope that everyone involved can draw inspiration and learning from the experiences we shared. We hope that will add something to their own projects and actions, making positive ripples of change and hope out into the world.
Simon & Jasmine Dale
Since 2003 we have been living and building on the land, working in environmental projects and community. We have found that for a few thousand pound and a few months work it is possible to create simple shelters that are in harmony with the natural landscape, ecologically sound and are a pleasure to live in. There is something powerfully alluring in such natural buildings. Their simplicity and cost makes them accessible; their beauty and use of natural materials remind us of our ancestral right and ability to live well as part of the landscape/nature/earth. We believe this dream is possible for anyone with genuine intention, will and hard work. Through this website is our best advice to inspire and assist anyone who is interested in similar ideas.
After building and living in the hobbit house, we left it for the woodland workers passing through this beautiful place. In 2009 we finally bought our own place, a 7 acre piece of land as part of the Lammas eco village in West Wales. The opportunity to really be somewhere, to integrate our basic needs of shelter, energy, food and a livelihood now has a permanent place to take root and grow. Being creative with what is available; minimising energy and pollution; and careful observation is our basic approach. So far we have built a small house, the Undercroft; a workshop and barn. Tree planting, pond creation, vegetable beds, fruit, composting and animals are the beginning of a self reliant, resilient and biodiverse home.
Only three generations ago most of us had ancestors living in the countryside and were skilled in woodwork, plants, craft, weaving and so on. Like many people, we wished to reclaim these ways and return to having a direct relationship to the land, do things for ourselves, enjoy a high standard of living and have fun. Committing ourselves to this land and simple living is our way of taking responsibility for our impact on the world as best we can. Every day we learn more about this place and can integrate our needs with the landscape we are in. Time to observe cycles and seasons is giving the opportunity to become neo-indigenous; architects of our own lives and genuine stewards of the land.
Simon & Jasmine Dale