OUR PROJECT MISSION is to create a network of affordable and ecologically responsible homes surrounding an initial ICOG micro-farm site. While some neutral houses will be large renovated city homes, others will be small, newly constructed buildings. All neutral homes, however, will share a modest square-feet-per-person ratio and a simple, needs-driven design. These remodeled structures and newly constructed homes will use green technologies and micro-grid strategies to significantly reduce or eliminate CO2 emissions and monthly utility costs. This will improve the quality of life for any neutral house resident, but it will be especially beneficial to families living near the poverty line.
PHASE ONE: The first phase of the Live Neutral project will be launched in late March of 2014 with the first in a series of community design sessions. They will be held near the site in the diverse Lyell-Otis and Edgerton Neighborhoods. While the details of the project will depend on community input, it is our goal to complete the following by November of 2014:
- Neutral Tiny House: a small home built on a flatbed trailer. This ultra-small home will serve as a laboratory where we can identify and perfect components of a regionally-appropriate green home design that uses sustainably-sourced materials. The Neutral Tiny House will be designed to use heating, energy, and water resources generated or collected on site for all household needs. We will be collaborating with Rochester Greenovation, local neighborhood associations, youth from the Lyell and Maplewood Libraries, RIT design students and others to make this home a reality.
- Permaculture Garden: landscaping with edible perennial plants. The site and possibly the surrounding streets, will be planted with edible perennials that once established, provide reliable sources of food which require little gardening work. We will be collaborating with Lots of Food to make this portion of the 55 Plover Street micro-farm a reality.
- Residentially-Scaled Aquaponics System: We intend to set up a hoop-house and small aquaponics system by the end of this summer. An Aquaponics system is a simple, looped system that allows a farmer to efficiently grow organic fish, vegetables, and fruit. Simply put, a fish tank is connected to a grow-bed for plants. Water from the fish, containing fish waste, is pumped to the grow-beds. The plants benefit from the nutrient-rich water, and clean in as they grow. The clean water then goes back into the fish tank. When balanced correctly, the system causes the plants to grow more quickly and provide higher yields, and the fish also grow more quickly and remain healthier without the use of antibiotics or other non-organic interventions.
- Raised Bed and Composting system: The 55 Plover Street site offers us 0.53 acres of land to live and grow food on. There will be no grassy-monocultures on the property. By the end of the summer, the property will be the home to a healthy ecosystem of beneficial plants. Some portions of the property will be left in a naturalized state, but we will also be building a system of composting bins and raised beds for growing leafy greens and root vegetables that will need deep, clean, lead-free soil to grow in.
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