One of our goals at Saba Cooperative is for the location, layout, and materials used on the grounds and in the structures to be ecologically and economically sustainable.  We encourage the use of local and natural building materials and the utilization of passive and active solar collection and storage systems.  In cold climate communities, we realize there is a significant concern for heat retention, so we  encourage using the support of nature for this purpose using passive solar, thermally-massive, and earth-sheltered designs for the community center, living quarters, and greenhouses. We also promote the harvesting and storage of rainwater, by integrating water catchment and storage systems into building designs. Towards the abolition of waste, we encourage recycling all gray-water and using composting toilets instead of a septic system.

Additionally, Saba’s goal is for the communities to have a sustainable food system that meets their food needs while also maintaining healthy ecosystems. Saba encourages the use of permaculture principles to promote conservation and regeneration of healthy ecological conditions, not only for the current communities, but for generations to come. Permaculture differs from conventional agriculture in that it is based on working with, not against nature, observing nature’s patterns and then integrating those insights into a sustainable land-use design. The anticipated application of the permaculture design will integrate local wildlife, edible forest gardening, pasture-paddock chicken raising, biologically diverse perennial polyculture herb and vegetable gardens, and the utilization of patterns found in nature in the gardens, greenhouses, and structures.

Grounds Concept Map (click to zoom)

1 – Saba Center

Saba Center is the envisioned community center and main structure at a Saba community.  Saba Center’s structural design ideally incorporates a large solar greenhouse on the southern side, an earth-sheltered root cellar on the northern side, a large open kitchen/dining/living room, and private and shared sleeping and work spaces.

2 – Spiraling Forest Gardens

Saba encourages and promotes cultivation of  permaculture food forests at Saba communities.  These food forests integrate perennial fruit and nut trees, shrubs, herbs, vines, and perennial vegetables, all which have yields directly beneficial to humans. We encourage the practice of organic no-till methods that emphasize building healthy soil by adding layers of organic compost on top, preserving a natural balance of beneficial mycorrhizal fungi and rhizobial bacteria, and ultimately contributing to increased yields and improved overall ecosystem health.

3 – Solarium Spa

As a special treat, communities may choose to build a solarium to house a swimming pool, solar-heated hot-tubs, and a sauna, for relaxing and rejuvenating after work. Useful tropical plants that enjoy warmth and humidity are integrated into this space, and the huge thermal mass of the pools assists in regulating temperatures.

4 – Regenerative Polyculture Pastures

Saba promotes the use of pasture paddock chicken-raising techniques in an effort to provide chickens with a large portion of their natural food needs, (plants and insects,) through cyclical pasturing, allowing the perennial polyculture to regenerate and preventing overgrazing. Also, an open-bottom, moveable chicken coop provides chickens with a familiar place to lay their eggs and to roost at night while avoiding the manure build-up associated with stationary coops, ultimately contributing to happier, healthier chickens. One or more passive-solar structure(s) in the middle of the pastures can catch and store heat in thermal mass to help keep the chickens warm during the harsh winter. In return, the chickens provide the communities with fresh eggs, pest control, fertilizing, and light tilling.

5 – Pond Habitat and Aquaculture System

Ideally Saba communities willh have one or more ponds for catching and storing rainwater and run-off, providing the ideal habitat for moisture-loving plants, a variety of fish species, and ducks.

7 – Woodland Amphitheatre

With just the addition of stones found on the land, communities can sculpt an amphitheatre in a clearing in the woods, providing a secluded forest venue for outdoor gatherings and a place for quiet contemplation of nature. Below is a concept sketch:

8 – Tiny Home Designs

13 thoughts on “Grounds

    1. Check out SC . I have knowledge of a good size double parcel with woods on 3 of 4 sides.

  1. You guys should consider domes or yurts, as they are considerably more cost efficient for a start-up community such as the one you are considering. Not every building has to be one, it could simply be a jumping off point for future buildings of a more permanent nature. You may also run into less building code issues with such structures.

    14 – 16 foot domes (or yurts) also make fairly affordable residences that provide a greater degree of privacy than a communal dorm (you could also space them out among the ten acres, lending to a very uncluttered appearance such that they architecturally and aesthetically blend into the forest). I realize that many intentional communities utilize a shared dorm concept, but that is obviously not a fixed requirement.

    1. Hi Alex,

      Thanks for the feedback! Actually, the first structure we anticipate building once we acquire the land is a yurt, for exactly the reasons you mention. We plan on living in this yurt and practicing permaculture on the land as soon as we get there. While it would be nice to get Saba Center built right away, we’re planning on starting small and simple, with the goal of realizing our vision one step at a time.

  2. My oh my, you have some serious regulatory hurdles ahead of you! Good luck with that. Happy to see you will start small with yurts. Since you are still looking for land, perhaps the land you find will be in proximity to an abandoned school or church or other large shelter. Sometimes it makes more sense to recycle existing infrastructure to do a number of things: A) avoid effort & expense of new construction B) create a link to the surrounding community C) Re-invigorate rural community.

    BTW, IMHO, you will not be able to afford, emotionally or $, to accept all that will be attracted to your promise of barrier-free shelter & board. Sad but our existing health-care systems have left the landscape littered with the seriously broken and even the environmental/alternative sub-culture will provide you an endless stream of cons, can’t commits, summer-trippers & predators of many stripes.

    Risky business, but if not you, who?
    I co-founded a shamanic ecovillage which lasted 10 years, am an sb builder & inventor/artist so happy to consult pro bono on whatever would assist your cause.

    David Cameron
    Projects Coordinator
    The Blockhouse School
    South Shore Social Ventures Co-op Ltd

    1. Hi David,

      So far the hurdles have not been too difficult. We’ll see as we move forward. Regarding the population of the community, we obviously intend to be responsible with how many can sustainably stay on the land. I also trust that our member consensus decision-making process will prevent any aggressive guests or visitors from staying in the community. As far as people looking for summer, seasonal, or retreat-like stay, we are always open to discussion.

      It seems that you have skills and experience that could definitely benefit us in Saba’s pursuits. Thank you so much for your offer of assistance. We intend to have project dates posted in the near future and we’ll be looking to sign up volunteers soon!

  3. Greetings friends! Are you still looking for land or are you settled? Eye am a fellow visionary, mystic, and healer- and this project (and many others like it) interest me immensely. It is my intention to collect experience and information, offer support in the realization of these dreams into reality with work, ideas, etc. and otherwise continue the propagation of such commUnities until my family’s true home is revealed. Your ideologies are a perfect match for my own, and my heart sings at the possibilities you all have so courageously offered. Please keep me posted on the materialization of this manifestation, and if eye may offer you a strong back, a focused mind, and a soft, open and unguarded heart in your endeavors it here, it is now, my beloved reflections!

  4. How many cleared acres are you seeking? And how many wooded? I may have space for your group, but it’s in Maine. If not, I’d like to use your ideas for my own intentional community. How many people do you plan to accommodate?

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