Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Tamarack Knoll Cohousing
In my search for cohousing and eco-design projects on this journey, Tamarack Knoll Cohousing conveniently popped up in Fairbanks. Established in 2004 and housing 9 members, it sits amidst boreal fir forest within an easy cycle ride of town and the university. Several of the residents were away adventuring and enjoying a summer outdoors but the remaining 4 adult residents and their 3 children welcomed us to a delicious dinner. We were their first dinner guests so hopefully have inspired them to not be their last.
Each household has its own self-contained cabin with power, heating (wood or other), pit toilet and kitchen (no running water), tucked away in 80 acres of forest, and all share the common house with a large kitchen (where they share meals each weekday night), lounge, store room, laundry, bathroom and loft guest room. Carrying water to the cabins each day in summer sounds fine, an added opportunity for interaction and a simplification of infrastructure but in the depths of winter where temperatures can drop to minus 50 degrees celcius, it would be a challenge to me.
There is a vegetable garden area where plants are encouraged along to produce before the short summer ends. Growing on permafrost has many challenges totally alien to someone living in the subtropics. What they can't grow, the residents purchase through a CSA (community-supported agriculture) with a local farmer in the summer but through the winter, food has to be bought from the megastores in "Box Town".