We have now completed all the exterior construction of both cabins, and will be working to complete the interior fit out over the winter and into Spring 2020. This short film shows the construction process since we dug the foundation holes in May 2018. The concrete foundations and floors were built by Northwoods Design in October 2019, and we continued with the build ourselves through the year! Its been a lot of hard work and lots of very steep learning curves but we are getting there, and very happy with the finished exteriors!
The cabin is built using locally milled larch for the beams, cladding and decks, and FSC/ PEFC certified timber for the frames and sheet materials. They have UK sheep’s wool insulation, green sedum roofs, rainwater harvesting, eco friendly natural paints and finishes and even recycled plastic bottle mattresses and duvets. They are off grid but have solar battery powered ights and USB phone charger.
As the year draws to an end we thought it would be nice to pause and reflect, and let you know what we have been up to in 2018, and look forward to plans in 2019.
Its been a really busy 12 months at BIPA and we have been working hard to develop the site towards our Permaculture design. The focus this past year has been on getting in the infrastructure to enable us to run as a business, as well as a functioning, sustainable ‘micro-croft’ or smallholding. So we have built a yurt with a woodburner as a workshop/teaching space, constructed a larch clad compost toilet, dug foundations, framed walls and hauled tons of timber and materials for our cabin construction, built brash fences and gates, redesigned the vegetable garden layout and mulched new paths, extended and expanded our orchard forest garden plant guilds, harvested loads of berries, rhubarb, peas, beans, kale, tatties, and salads, foraged blaeberries, haws, rosehips, brambles and chanterelles, moved and consolidated the compost bays, fitted extra waterbutts, built tool sheds, installed solar PV, continued our woodland managment and regeneration (and finally cleared the rubble midden at the bottom, which got recycled into the foundations for our eco camping cabins!) We’ve also managed to continue renovating the house with the exterior mostly finished and more rooms inside now refurbished. The only downside is that we have reached the end of the year somewhat exhausted so we’re having a nice relaxing ‘winterval’ between Christmas and New Year to recoup our minds and energies…
We’ve also been busy with a local community food project, MOO food, and have helped to plant a orchard of 50 fruit and nut trees, planted up potato boxes with salads, herbs and veg for people to help themselves to, and worked with school and community groups to help people to grow their own food.
The weather has been a challenge at times this year, with a drought from May until August ( although not as bad as the south of UK experienced) We upped our water butts so hopefully will be prepared next summer..
We’ve been busy harvesting and preserving, making lots of chutnies, jams, preserves, wine, syrup and cordial, and experimented with some fermented rosebay willow herb tea which is very nice!
I also took part in an exhibition at Inverness Museum and Art gallery (IMAG) in September, which was a collaborative show looking at the hidden food networks in the highlands, more details can be found here. It was good to get back into my art practice and make use of the lovely studio!
We are pleased to announce we have succesfully become a ScotLAND Permaculture Demonstration Centre after having our assessment! ScotLAND Centres are established Permaculture projects, they are excellent demonstrations of permaculture in action. Along with skill in applying permaculture ScotLAND Centres have demonstrated their ability to explain their use of permaculture ethics and principles to visitors and volunteers and offer opportunities for learning. After a lot of hard work we have completed our broadbrush design for the project and are well on the way with our implementation of the plans. We still have quite a lot of infrastructure to build but are lovely yurt is almost ready! We’ll be using this space for workshops, courses and events in 2019..
We have resurfaced from our winterval and are now getting started on lots of projects, with the help of our first WWOOF volunteer, Elliott, from Brittany. We started the year with a lot of snow, but despite that the last few weeks have seen the construction of a lean to for storing kindling and wood, new fencing for the chicken area (and a nice new gate) constructed from coppice wood, and restocking of the wood piles. And eating crepe’s!
During the winter months we are working on various indoor jobs (including building this website!) and planning for the new year projects. We’ll be posting more over the next few months as things develop, but for now we’ll stick another log on the fire and enjoy the long, snowy, dark winter days…