A Life of Rain and Natural Building

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A Life of Rain

Their eyes go wide. Their jaws even drop a bit, sometimes.

“Really?” they say every time.


We live off rain catchment.


Year round, our only source of water. Yes, really, for all our needs. From drinking to watering the garden. And yes, we live in a high desert with an average of 8 inches of rainfall a year. And you know what?

It's not that big a deal.

When we turn on the kitchen sink, water comes out, just like for anyone. Only ours is rainwater. We have enough for washing the dishes, doing laundry, and having gardens and guests.

And no, we have not resorted to dustbaths. We shower with rainwater. It's quite luxurious as our neighbors with wells put up with water that smells like rotten eggs and haul in filtered drinking water from the city. Our water is tasty, clean, and local.

How do we do it?

Living off rainwater means having a big enough roof to catch a bunch when it rains. It means having big enough tanks to catch enough to last us through the dry months.

We re-use all of our water in the gardens and greenhouse. We built our greywater systems to drain automatically into planted beds. We only use certain soaps and detergents that we know won't harm the plants. And we have sculpted our land to harvest seasonal floodwater that runs down the hillsides.

The big secret to living off rainwater?

Treating this precious resource as the special thing that it is. You know how special it is when you have none.

We keep track of how much we have, and how much we use. Having our main storage cistern outside our front door makes it easy. We installed a tank gauge that through the use of two pulleys...(Read more of this blog post)

Our Class Series:

May 31  High Desert Gardening

June 6  Earth, Straw, and Salvage Building

June 13  Arid Land Restoration

June 27  Rain Harvesting and Greywater Systems

July 11  Open House and Intern Presentations

Earth, Straw, and Salvage Building

Join us for an overview of earth building techniques from foundation to roof.   Get some hands on experience with cob, strawbale, and earthbag.  Learn the properties of interior and exterior earthen plasters and long and chopped straw. 

Learn about what load bearing walls require, and when to use insulating materials rather than thermal mass for capturing the heat of the sun and the coolness of the Earth.  We will discuss the advantages and downfalls of using salvaged materials for different parts of a structure.

We will show you the different structures we have built at Ampersand which demonstrate an integrated design with water harvesting, solar design, and making best use of local and easily acquired building materials
10am to 4pm
.Discounts Available
Please Register by emailing amanda@ampersandproject.org

Our new earth oven in progress!
Thanks to Claire Gardner for hosting us at her homestead!
Thanks to Scott Miller for helping us get started on our lumber rack!
Yep we got a new camera.
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