MarshLand, USA started as an experiment in retrofitting an older home and yard to the greenest standards. The experiment began in 2002 after the death of my husband, Donald Marsh. (see How it All Began) The MarshLand home was built in 1924. It is a Georgian Colonial situated on just under one acre (three city lots are actually .99 acre) it has a formal feel about it. It was a resource hog when purchased in 2000 using a 7-zone sprinkler system, a 24/7 pool and spa filter with vacuum and landscape flood lights, eight gas lamps on 24/7, dual A/C, and no interior seals! The electric bill approached $600 per month. (see Lowest Electric Bill to Date - The Experiment is Working! ) The water bill topped $120 per month! And the Gas bill (lamps, hot water and stove) came in at over $100.
Today the electric bill averages around $150 per month, water bill around $90 (minimum use allowed, rates increasing) and gas is around $50. The water bill is deceptive since new services were added: street lamp, recycle and garbage as well as increased minimums. The actual usage topped out at 5k galleons a month and is now below 1k, which is a minimum to bill.
Here you will find an outline detailing some of the biggest changes, the systems and methods from the lowest cost/effort to the highest used to make MarshLand, USA an example home yard, and habitat. Also some of my dearest hopes for the future of MarshLand, USA as a field trip destination for home schooled children.
Plan for Marshland – An Organic Odyssey
In this document I will attempt to briefly outline my plans, hopes and goals for Marshland, USA. The final goal is to have it become a science field trip destination for home school children as well as a demonstration of the environmentally green home and yard in urban/suburban communities.
Toward this goal I would like to accomplish the following:
- Solar Panels on the roof of the house and garage providing hot water and electricity to run the pond filters and pumps – batteries for storage
- Possible windmill to generate and batteries to store electricity as well.
- Need more research as to the effect on pollinators, especially honey bees.
- Rain barrels on all the downspouts and throughout the property to collect as much rainwater as possible for irrigation and pond requirements
- A miniature water treatment facility to provide potable water from the grey water from the house – for use in the science center, on the compost and some of the plant beds
- A “Green Roof” planted on the shady part of the house roof and the science center roof with butterflies and birds in mind
- Working examples of compost piles, from the small container composter, to the stalls, to just piles! With the entire cycle on display
- Worm condo with signage to explain the benefits of “having worms”!
- A working honey bee hive with information about pollinators and the effects of pesticides on them.
- A method of cleaning pond filters to save water and to nourish plants
- Examples of various water wise gardens, butterfly, native, vegetable, etc.
- A science center equipped with bathrooms, lab, microscopes, sinks, and classroom for the study of the pond life and water – natural filtration; and a small library.
- An electric car in the driveway with MarshLand USA logo and info custom painted on it.
- Examples of how the native FL Indians grew some of their crops
- Monitoring of the wildlife attracted to and maintained by a natural landscape, from frogs to birds to butterflies and mammals, using streaming video with infrared for night and website to view.
- To show the economic advantages to these options – comparing the initial investment and running costs to the traditional means of acquiring these utilities and commodities
- Occasional invitation-only seminars on building composters, rain barrels, worm bins and raised bed vegetable gardens. These must be small and invitation only since MarshLand, USA is in a residential zone and needs to remain so to be an example to residents.
4. Waste products
a. from home
b. from fish / ponds
c. from gardening / mowing
MarshLand, USA will attempt to become less dependent on outside sources for the three commodities. And while doing so, to become less of a burden on the environment from area number 4, and actually give back to the environment in many ways.
It is my challenge to change Florida's and America’s perspective of beauty. To create a new aesthetic and make the appearance of a sterile grass lawn with sprinkler systems look like an eye-sore to the average homeowner.
The information above pertains to the physical and operating areas of the house and land with nature. There is another area of importance and that is in the area of interpretation. The main purpose of this entire endeavor aside from the obvious Earth Friendly one is to become an example to homeowners throughout Central Florida and the US. Toward that end there are presentations to be created for various age and demographic groups, such as garden clubs, homeowner associations, schools and homeschoolers. I hope to be able to begin scheduling such presentations soon.
Age appropriate programs that tie into the sciences, biology, horticulture, environmental studies and other disciplines will need to be created and presented with some regularity. With this in mind, I have become a FL Master Gardener, a Florida Master Naturalist and am working toward my M.A. in English, Technical Communication.
The goal here is to put together a Science and Learning Center on the property that includes a laboratory, library and classroom/conference room. It would be this center that would be the educational hub of the entire property. There would be lectures for up to 10 people, followed by tours of the property and finishing with hands on discovery sessions from microscopic study of pond water to building a rain barrel or composter to take home. This would also be where the public facilities would be located. There is currently a building with electrical and plumbing in the SW corner of the property that could be tripled in size with no discernible encroachment into the basic yard/pond area. There is also a studio apartment with full bath attached to the garage that could be expanded into the garage area with minimal cost and change to the property that could be the either the office for MarshLand, or a home to volunteers/interns.
Networking has begun as some home school activity coordinators have expressed interest in field trips to the property. Of course there are insurance issues, zoning issues and other legal issues to be worked out before anything more formal than having guests to my home can be considered.
One thing the property can offer now is the purchase of rain barrels, worm houses and composter bins for sale. Donations can be accepted as well. Publications and crafts can be sold. These types of activities can offset the cost of operations.
At this time I am accepting donations, however it must be perfectly clear that these are totally taxable, to MarshLand, USA and to the giver. MarshLand, USA is NOT a non-profit and will pay full taxes on all donations.
I am working on a website that will offer all this information, and the sales of some Eco-friendly items to help create the same earth-friendly yards and homes for anyone. It is my goal that the website will have virtual tours, day and night real time streaming video and other interactive aspects for the public, as well as some of the course materials for homeschoolers to download. The domain has been purchased, marshland.us.
Legal stuff; 3/31/2010
- I reserve the right to update previous posts and not be required to notify anyone of said updates.
- I will not accept invitations/requests of certain type which I deem inappropriate.
- I am not gaining any financial rewards by any person/business I mention, any product I discuss or use and refer to, or any place I visit in regards to this blog and what I write about. I am writing honest reviews of my experiences with green(er) products, techniques, solutions and ideas.
- I am open to suggestions and will be happy to try something new. Contact me with ideas!
- If I am receiving any compensation for any products I discuss and use here, I promise my readers to tell them about it.
- This is MarshLand, USA's blog. These opinions expressed here are mine and just that: opinions. It is my goal to do the work and write as accurately as I can about it.
- I welcome feedback, corrections and comments.