WELCOME TO THE SOLAR ARK!

Located in New Mexico's northern central mountains, the Solar Ark is a sprawling complex of greenhouses, gardens and homes powered by sun and wind. All aspects of permaculture, especially those pesky technical/mechanical ones, are employed to create a truly sustainable organic farm in  the challenging climate of a mountain desert. We welcome visitors who can imagine living in a sustainable way, using renewable sources to provide for the needed comfort and growing greens and vegetables year-round  in integrated greenhouses.

We focus on providing sound, practical knowledge to enable the committed student  to go out and do it on their own.

ABOUT THE PLACE

Built by the owner, using mostly natural or recycled materials over a period of ten years, and with a deplorably low budget, it demonstrates all aspects of what is taught here. Lemons ripen in passive solar greenhouses (without any supplemental heat) while outside temperatures can dip to minus 25 degrees.    Hot water, well water, electricity and heating/cooling are harvested from sun and wind. Cooking is done with biogas from a chicken manure digester. Greywater irrigates a beautiful backyard known as ‘flushing meadows’. The beverage of choice is triple filtered, carbonated rainwater.

Three different guest houses/apartments and amenities such as fridge/freezer/washing machine, etc. are available for small groups of students; the total immersion in the matter studied combined with practical, hands-on experiences allow a large array of subjects to be covered in a short time.

The Solar Ark is surrounded by beautiful highlands. There are rivers, lakes and hot springs to be visited in the adjacent wilderness area. Mountain biking, hiking, canoeing and such are encouraged on the days off.

     TOPICS COVERED

 

  • site evaluation and sustainable house design
  • affordable alternative building methods (mud stone straw pumice pallets glass  tires)
  • different types of insulation and their proper uses
  • greenhouse design and operation
  • active and passive heating and cooling
  • harvesting all needed electricity from solar panels, wind generators and hydro turbines;                                                                            efficient appliances and lighting
  • simple solar hot water systems for domestic needs as well as hydronic heating
  • efficient and clean wood burning (masonry stove; rocket stove)
  • solar and wind powered water pumping; rain water harvesting, filtration and storage
  • greywater irrigation systems
  • methane digesters, biodiesel and hydrogen
  • geothermal heat (really just an excuse to go to the 'secret' chama river hot springs] and heat pumps for hydronic (radiant floor) heating