My partner, Cheryl Davies, and I have just moved to Orlando and we are incredibly excited to get involved with many of the great movements going on here. I am embarking on a project of growing and foraging 100% of my food for a year to help and inspire people to start growing their own food. I will be helping people turn their lawns into gardens, starting a community composting program, planting 100+ fruit trees in the community, and volunteering with local nonprofits.
While here, we are looking to build a tiny house and set it up in someone’s unused space, such as a backyard. Particularly we are looking to live in the Audubon Park area, as there are organizations in that area that I intend to volunteer with a lot.
We are looking to create a mutually beneficial relationship. I have laid out what I am looking to do so that if you are interested we can start off on a very similar page.
I’ll start with what the benefits for you would be.
My goal is to find someone who is interested in living a more sustainable life that I can be of service to. I would be improving your land and could teach you along the way. Here are some things I would like to do:
-Organic gardening. I’ll grow lots of food and share it with you.
-Plant fruit trees. These will be there for you for years to come.
-Set up rainwater harvesting.
-Build a good composting system.
-Plant native flowers for the bees, butterflies, and the beauty.
-Raise bees. I’ll install a bee box and beehive (this is optional if you don’t want this).
-Build a chicken coop and raise chickens (also optional).
The idea would be that after I leave, I could leave most of the creations behind for you. I would like to make a lasting positive impact for you. I would also be happy to teach you how to live more sustainably inside your house, including things like greywater, reducing trash, water and electricity conservation, composting, and more.
Now, onto the basic necessities for this to work for Cheryl and me. We both live very simply and our needs are minimal. I aim to live in the service of humanity and Earth and thus have whittled down my personal needs.
Timeline – I am looking for a period of 2 years. I would like to set up by the end of March 2018 and would likely stay until early 2020.
The tiny house – The plan is to build the tiny house to be very similar to the small pre-made wooden sheds you can purchase . In this way it will blend in to the backyard, as a large number of people have sheds like this in their backyards already. From the outside it will just appear as a shed, not a house. It would likely be 8’x12′ (96 sq. ft.) or 8’x16′ (128 sq. ft.). Yes, that is very small, but Cheryl and I prefer small over large. These dimensions would allow it to be put on a trailer and moved. I may build it on a trailer, or not, depending on the situation. We could take the tiny home with us afterward or if you want to keep the tiny house we could leave it behind for you. We could discuss that option.
Utilities – The plan is to be living mostly or completely off the grid. We would either use minimal or no utilities. We would possibly like to use water for the garden. For electricity, we might want to have a chest freezer for preserving food and possibly a few things such as an electric dehydrator and blender. Although I hope to only use a solar dehydrator and bike blender.
If we did use electricity we would not use the inside of the house at all, just an extension cord to the outside. We would pay for whatever utilities we used if we did go that route.
We live mostly zero waste so we would not use the garbage can or recycling bin.
We do not have a car so we do not need parking. We ride bicycles.
We would not need to go inside the house or use the inside of the house for anything.
Rent – We would like to do a work exchange and create a truly beneficial relationship that is worth far more than paying rent financially.
To live off the grid, or mostly off the grid, my tiny home will have:
-Solar panels to generate electricity.
-Rocket stove and solar oven for cooking and a solar dehydrator for preserving food.
-Rainwater harvesting to collect water, including drinking water.
-Compost toilet. See this blog and video if you are wondering about this.
-Compost bin to turn food scraps and yard waste into compost for organic gardening.
A few other things you should know – I’d like to have people over to teach them about environmentally friendly living and host small workshops. I would never have loud parties or anything like that, but small gatherings to eat homegrown food and discuss bettering the world. I would occasionally like to have journalists over to do stories about earth-friendly living. Both Cheryl and I are very quiet and respectful. We don’t use drugs or drink, have not been in trouble with the law, and are all around Do-Gooders. Read my biography and visit Cheryl’s website and Facebook page to learn more about us.
I made a similar arrangement to this in San Diego in 2015 with my last tiny house. Check out The Teeny Greeny to get a good idea of what it would look like.
Legality – If the tiny house is on wheels it is considered a vehicle and does not have to comply with any building codes. If we build without wheels we’d build it as a shed to make it within code. So either way the structure will be within code.
Technically I don’t think a person is allowed to live in a vehicle or camper or a shed which means it is not technically legal. I did this in San Diego for a year and this is what many people around the nation do. My experience from talking to people is that if the neighbors don’t have a problem with it then it will never be an issue. Everything else about this (such as the compost toilet) is completely legal.
If it interests you to host our tiny home in your backyard please get in touch with me. I am very flexible and open to ideas. You may have some questions or concerns and you are welcome to ask me any of them.
If you are reading this and you live in the Orlando area, I hope to meet you soon! If you’d like to get involved in my project you can join my Florida Facebook Group.
UPDATE: I have found a place. Here is a video tour of the tiny house homestead I set up: