It’s been a big summer for Jordan Cameron, the 22-year-old has made his dream of building his own Earthship a reality.
Sitting on a rock outside his mostly-finished project, in Wellington, Cameron doesn’t mince words about the experience.
“Great summer – likely the most exciting summer of my life,” he said, smiling ear to ear.
“Everything went pretty smooth. I was struggling for that June 1 start date and I’ll be struggling for the Oct. 31 finish date … momentum is a cruel mistress if you don’t take advantage of it,” he said.
The outer shell of Cameron’s Earthship is now largely complete. Most of the remaining work involves setting up the various system of the home (solar power, rain catchment) and plastering the interior walls.
A crew of more than a dozen volunteers from across Canada and the U.S. helped Cameron at the onset of the project, but now that most of the labour intensive work is done, the crew has dwindled to usually just himself and one or two others.
Their work has been drawing attention all summer, said Cameron.
“A lot of looky-loos, on a regular day maybe four to six people pull over to the side of the road and then roll around and come on in. It’s nice – the jackpot is when they know about Earthships and you don’t need to start from scratch for the explanation,” he said.
Folks could be forgiven for stopping to take a second look at the Earthship – it’s downright odd looking. The building itself is half buried under earth and the only visible section is one big wall of south-facing windows.
It’s also right off the busy Route 2, so it’s hard to miss.
The term ‘Earthship’ is used to describe homes built using a method developed by Earthship Biotecture of Taos, New Mexico, in the early 1970s.
They use recycled junk as a primary building material (tires for walls among other innovations) and have a very small environmental footprint as a result.
Earthships also use passive solar as a primary source of heat (hence the big windows) with a small wood stove as backup. They also use solar power for electricity and catch and store rainwater for their primary water source. Washing water is filtered into an indoor greenhouse.
They’ve been built all over the world in every kind of climate. Cameron, who is from Summerside, has devoted the last couple of years to building one of his own in his home province.
He’s a graduate of the construction technology program at Holland College and recently completed a course in the U.S. on constructing Earthships. He helped build two of them in the U.S. before attempting his own.
This project has been a huge undertaking, he said, and it has not only helped him grow professionally by testing his skills, but also personally by stoking his passion for this kind of work.
“Everyday I’m growing, trying to stay determined, focused, put in long days and put my all into it, you know,” he said.
“But it’s been fun though. I get up excited thinking about what I’m going to do today,” he said.
Cameron hopes to live in the Earthship this winter and fine-tune any problems that might arise. His long-term goal is to build more homes of this type on the Island.
He has been keeping a Facebook page updated with the progress of his Earthship. Those can be viewed online at www.facebook.com/EarthshipPEI.