Permaculture & Eco-Building

On the path to a more sustainable future

Before we moved to Les Vignes Basses full time we lived and worked in South Korea teaching in the public school system. Whilst there, we had large chunks of free time, which we used to research, learn, read and discuss what we wanted from our lives in France and exactly what we wanted to do on the land. Through various blogs, Facebook pages, pages shared by friends and oodles of trawling on the internet we stumbled upon permaculture.

Our first experience with it was Geoff Lawton, an awesome permaculture specialist who focuses particularly well on dry and sub-tropical areas of the world. His videos were really inspiring and sparked seriously enthusiastic interest in permaculture.

To cut a long story short, we ended up enrolling on to an online Permaculture Design Course (PDC) with the late Patrick Whitefield. We thought about hiring a permaculture designer first of all, although the cost of doing this versus the cost of training ourselves was negligible, it was a no brainer! And it gives us a qualification we can use forever more.

Our hope was that by taking the course we could try to make more informed decisions about the layout and planning of our land and create a working, sustainable system. We decided we had lots of ideals but no practical knowledge. WWOOFing for five weeks in Japan helped to overcome this somewhat, but the question still remained; where to start with a blank, empty field having never planted a vegetable in your life??

The course took about ten months to complete and was super informative. It gave us clarity about the design for our own land; really making the land work for us. Upfront, it’s quite a bit of work but once the systems are functioning the input from us is minimal. Clever design in tune with nature really is the lynchpin of permaculture.

Straw Bale House Building Posts

These blog posts are entirely dedicated to the construction of our straw bale house. Although the building, its conception and evolution, all cover both the ‘Permaculture’ and ‘Sustainable Futures’ categories, many are interested solely in the house build itself.

The Final Straw… 🐪🌾

For this post, I feel like the pictures will do the most of the talking. Suffice to say that we love, love, love living in the straw bale house, affectionately known as ‘Little Strawbs’

A Rook O’ Bamboo

It will come as no surprise that the interior of our straw bale house has taken much longer to complete than the superstructure. Many, many friendly advisors told us this would be the case, and once we embarked upon the wattle and daub train I realised they were astoundingly accurate in their premonition! Progress also…

Water Filtration System

Now that we having running water in the house – and hot water no less, we decided it was high time to upgrade our grey water filtration system. Originally, we were granted planning permission after having a study completed of our land which ensured that it was suitable for a ‘Lit De Roseaux’, or reed…

Off-Grid Update

A little over two years ago, I put together a small powerwall (battery pack) to store solar energy in our caravan. Read more about the process of putting it together here.  We have been off-grid for this entire time, with free power, no stress and an immense sense of connection with the sun! So, here’s an…

Home Sweet Home

Progress on the house was somewhat slowed over the summer by the heat of the day, which lasted literally the entire day, from 11am-8pm throughout July and August. However, steady progress was made on the interior of the straw bale house.


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Permaculture Blog Posts

These blog posts are more generally about Permaculture and how it is applied both inside the house and out on the land.

Dull Thuds And Sprinkling Sawdust: The Joy Of Composting

I always look forward to Sunday mornings and the simple pleasure of visiting the compost heap with our latest offerings. For 4 years now we have had a dry toilet, which, for those of you unfamiliar with the parlance of composting, means collecting your poo in a large bucket, covering your deposits with sawdust, separating…

Hank The Tank

Having the ability to store water seems to create an innate sense of secure satisfaction now that our ferro-cement tanks are finished. Collecting and holding lovely cool, clean and fresh water in a passive way.


WWOOFing in Japan was one of the best things I have ever had the pleasure to encounter.

Making A Crust

Since our move to France, the most commonly asked question is “How are you making money/a living/ends meet?”. For all those budding homesteaders or people wishing to live their dream but who are worried about their modus operandi abroad, I thought I would share our experiences of not only making ends meet but actually saving…


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Sustainable Futures Blog Posts

The Sustainable Futures category looks more closely at how the behavioural changes and small incremental differences could be perceived against the backdrop of our modern society.

Espying Energy Efficiency

Off-grid energy is no longer a novel idea reserved only for forest bound dreamers. Over the last couple of years we have received calls from many friends and family members asking us about solar energy and, particularly in winter, heating efficiency.

Energy Update: Rethinking Luck, Privilege and Abundance

Rising bills, compounding energy crises, the head of the UN announcing an existential threat to humanity.  When the head of the largest diplomatic organisation in the world uses language that wouldn’t look out of place in the Extinction Rebellion manifesto, it only adds to our desire to be a part of what follows this madness.…

The 90% Rule

A design principle and critical assessment of our needs as human beings Over the course of the last 4 years, whilst building our strawbale house, installing the systems and becoming accustomed to them, we have consistently applied a thorough design framework. This has come to be known between us and in various conversations with friends,…

Compound Savings

Compound interest is a term few really understand, yet it adds a significant cost to what is already the largest investment most people make in their lives, the mortgage. This impacts everything, our car, our credit card our store cards and we end up, as a friend put it, running in order to stand still.…

Constructing Empowerment

International Women’s Day is a demonstration that our modern world fights the good fight daily in terms of equality, anti-discrimination and liberty to transcend gender boundaries. Some areas are making this transition in leaps and bounds whilst others are laggards stuck in their traditional ways with little or no thought towards progression. Thinking about this…


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