We’re seeking founding members!
Become part of pioneering an ecovillage—two beautiful parcels are for sale, with approved septic design for four bedrooms. We’re forming a working group of like-minded folks who would be interested in sharing land and bringing down the cost of buying land and building homes. See our FAQ page to answer common questions.
For information on parcels for sale, go to
Updates on the land by founder Dan Antonioli
2015 has been a big, big year at the Laytonville Ecovillage! Without sounding too melancholy or poetic, this Fall really represents a classic “death and rebirth” for the land and the future of LEV. Lots of changes, saying goodbye to old things, and creating space for new growth.
We’ve been busy cleaning up the land and getting some structures spruced up. The cob oven and bench now have a finish coat of plaster on them and the round pole structure that covers it has been powerwashed and is “sparkling” with the beautiful fir wood that it is! The upper unit staircase has been cleaned up and has a new coat of water-based finish on it.
Several invasive trees have been limbed and are soon to be felled, which will bring in more light for the garden, fruit trees, and our various solar systems. And it will further our efforts to make the land fire safe!
For those of you who know the land, the old funky structure that’s shared with the neighbor’s property is coming down and the area is getting cleaned up. This has been many years in the works but the neighbor finally agreed that it was a good idea to remove an unusable structure that leaks like a sieve. I hope to replace it with a beautiful garden storage shed.
We hosted a wonderful off-grid solar workshop workshop with the award winning Kelly Larson, also known as “Solar Kelly!” And Kirk Mobert and Leslie Jackson did a masterful job of explaining how rocket stoves work and building a rocket stove hot water heater–one of the first of its kind. Leslie’s article explains all! (see below).
We are working on a new food forest and a large hugulkultur bed where several large logs have been breaking down and absorbing water. With more organic matter we plan on turning it into a “sponge” and planting a timber bamboo grove.
While we’ve been composting from day one I decided to build a classic wooden three-bin compost system, just like the ones you’ve seen pictures of. There is plenty of wood we’ve milled on site over the years and it was pure joy to get into some lumber piles that were five years old, powerwash and plane some of the wood, and bring it back to life!
Heat the Cook: Rocket Stoves
Perhaps you’ve heard of rocket stoves: A woodburning cookstove developed in the 1970s as a solution to the problems of smoky kitchens and scarce fuel in the third world, it burns cleanly and almost completely. Adapatation is spotty, but the technology bows to the laws of physics and chemistry and it continues to grow and evolve. It’s changing culture, but not in the ways it was perhaps intended to.
In terms of home comfort, surely bodies, not buildings, are what we want to heat. Ianto Evans, one of the rocket stove’s developers, plugged a rocket stove into a cob bench, running the stove’s exhaust pipe through the bench to cool the gases and store the heat, similar to a Masonry Heater. Also designed to address problems of air quality and fuel shortages, a masonry heater’s gases go through complex smoke channels, releasing their heat to the mass. Only Ianto built his for a tenth of the price of a masonry heater, and achieves the same and better efficiencies.
Ianto and I (Leslie Jackson) wrote a concise, illustrated DIY manual, now in its third edition, and translated into four languages. The book is available from www.rocketstoves.com.
Sharing, teaching, and experimentation are where it’s at with this worldwide appropriate tech. LEV, for example, just got a rocket-stove-powered water heater for a multi-use outdoor shower, by throwing a workshop.
The LEV Rocket Stove Workshop was a success!
Kirk Mobert’s most recent water heater workshop was at the end of summer 2015 at Laytonville Ecovillage. There, a dozen people gathered to camp out, eat great food provided by Dan Antonioli and prepared by Laytonville Ecovillage’s culinary wizards Rain and Chi.
The LEV site has had a bath-house for its workshop participants and a small community of full-time dwellers. There are two wonderful outdoor showers, powered up to now by a solar-thermal hot water system in one shower, and an on-demand water heater in the other.
Owner Dan Antonioli wanted a wood-fired rocket stove water heater to supplement the system, so that during a busy workshop—or just a shower-house traffic jam!—could accommodate back-to-back showers for up to ten people. He also wanted an opportunity to further remove the Laytonville Ecovillage from dependence on fossil fuels, take advantage of an overgrown forest with tons of small diameter wood, and have fun geeking-out on rocket stove technology. Nothing wrong with that!
Over the course of two days, the class learned:
- Basics of cob building: sourcing clay, testing for clay content, mixing by foot and sculpting by hand
- Pipe sweating
- Site preparation
- Brick stacking
- Rocket stoves and wood combustion
- Water heating
…and by Sunday afternoon had a functional, working rocket stove hot water heater. Mission accomplished.
In addition to running the first online forum for rocket mass heaters, Kirk runs Sundog School of Natural Building in Point Arena California.
See you in a workshop!
—Leslie Jackson, co-author, Rocket Mass Heaters
2016 Work Trade and Internship Opportunities
We are offering academic internships, regular work-trade, and a new “natural building” internship that will allow folks with some natural building experience to focus on several building projects.
Interns this season at LEV will be able to take part in projects that range from food, water and energy systems to participation in the “invisible structures” coming into form at the site as we search for new members to join our community. Domains of work-study can be tailored to your interests.
Internships provide a unique opportunity to spend a season or two at our rustic wilderness homestead and forming ecovillage, immersed in study of regenerative design. Internships are available each Spring–Fall season at 30 hours/week, with a minimal Internship of three months. Please see our website for details and direct any questions or requests for an application to firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you!