Tomato Security and Earthships

"Tomato Security" is when your neighbors can grow tomatoes just as good as you can. Make sure everyone in a 500 mile radius is as well-off and well-sustained, and is as happy as you are. That is all the security we should need. No stockpiling guns, arms and food for the apocalypse. No worrying about how the have-nots will be banging down your walls to get your stuff.

Tomato security is one of the lessons taught by the Earthship movement, which is a completely self sustainable place to live that connects day-to-day live with the biosphere. The concept was created by Michael Reynolds in New Mexico back in the late 60s / early 70s, and popularized in the documentary Garbage Warrior.

I love this quote from Garbage Warrior – Michael is talking about his dad saving every single mayonnaise jar they ever used down in their basement…he didn't have a use for them, but knew they were to good to throw away. It's our nature to want to save useful stuff! We just get new stuff so easily, the old useful stuff just piles up. Eventually…we have so much we just toss out perfectly good bottles, bags, materials…I've lived with people who save plastic bags for an entire year just to shove them all in the trash when there's just no room for them.

I foresee in the not too distant future, people raiding the dumps for materials which we invent uses for. Earthship builders are raiding tire dumps right now. No more tire fires – we've found a use for them! Plastic bottles and glass bottles are being up-cycled to act as bricks in the wall structure of the building.

I didn't know a thing about earthships until I was reading the normal mix of environmental, green, self sustainable news mix that now floods my facebook wall the other day…and found myself at the valhalla movement website. Cool! These guys have some badass graphic design, and are located up in Montreal. They have a big focus on spreading the word, educating, and building earthships (and permaculture and other generally great things to be focused on).

So Michael Reynolds is living in the higher altitudes of New Mexico, where in the winter it can get to -30 below 0 (F), and he has no heating system. What?! I am intrigued. He has a fireplace, but only uses it on Christmas. He says something along the lines of "it takes a huge burden on the person to prepare for winter…but it takes a huge burden off of the planet." Elegantly said…

Pounding tires:

The earthship takes things like bottles and used tires to construct an off-the-grid house in remote environments. You grow your food in your house. You recycle your waste. You harness the land and nature to live in harmony, as opposed to bending nature to our needs.

So you don't have unlimited water and electricity, and you can't send your poop and garbage off to be someone else's problem (or gift!). The saying, "sometimes to go forward, you have to take a step back", is definitely valid here…if we are ever going to reverse the damage we've caused to the earth, we have to live a little more moderately. But really…is having your own green house, not paying electricity, water / sewage bills a step back? I'd jump at the chance to take every aspect of my life and put it in my own hands! How about you?


On to the next cool thing learned from this talk, the model creature of the earth, the tree.

I often wonder what a city would look like if humans never happened upon it…how the rolling hills would be completely covered by trees. If humans weren't around, trees would cover most habitable land on earth. They are extremely efficient. They gather energy from the sun, food from the soil and the air. They seed themselves. They use their waste. They flow with the seasons. We can learn a lot from a tree…so instead of chopping them down for fire, energy and housing, let's evolve to use what is already all around us.

The tree - the model creature of the earth

We have the knowledge to build a more logical and sustainable lifestyle, and now we need the transformation. That is a nice definition of wisdom: knowledge together with transformation.

To use the best of human intellect to live in harmony. Live with nature, not against it. To be totally connected to your house, which is totally connected to nature. It's a dream for most people these days, but that is changing as people innovate with self-sustainable living methods.

There's an earthship learning centre in the southern tip of Argentina called Tol-Haru. Located in the Tierra del Fuego, it's a pretty harsh environment, but tropical plants survive in the greenhouse.

You can stay in an earthship on your next trip out to New Mexico. Here's one on airbnb: airbnb earthship in Taos, New Mexico

That biotecture group in Australia called Terraeden has a bunch of a great resources re: earthships. What they are, how they work, and how to build them: http://terraeden.org/

Want to watch Terraeden build australia's first earthship? Here's part 1 and part 2.

You can attend Earthship Academy to become an expert builder. It costs a little money, or you can apply to be an intern and then get free tuition to the course.

There's also likely an earthship build going on which you can volunteer to help out with. Habitat for Humanity's next step: Habitat for Humanity And Earth. I think it could happen. I'm sure a poor family would love to be able to grow their own food and pay way less utility bills as well as get a house built by volunteers from Habitat.

Would you be interested in helping build one of these? I'm going to add helping to build an earthship to my to-do list.

As I'm writing this, I'm watching the Garbage Warrior documentary. It's awesome, inspiring, and frightening. It brings to light the problems our society has with innovation in housing. I donated some money to disaster relief the last time a tidal wave hit…these guys went to Indonesia and built an earthship, and trained the locals how to build earthquake-proof, self-sustainable housing. Here's a picture of locals building an earthship in Haiti:

Some good advise on getting bills passed in Garbage Warrior as well…use an attractive, personable woman to convince senators to pass legislation, and do not mention global warming to republicans.

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