Jim Self's Projekti kodu (Project Home)

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Build Project Description

Mari and I have been living in the forest since March 2013 and love it! We are 100% off-grid and are enjoying the challenges that this brings as well as the empowerment of self-reliance it creates. We try to develop as sustainable as possible which for us means using natural & re-claimed materials. By keeping the environmental impact low, the costs low and the skills level required low - we believe that we and anyone else who chooses to live an off-grid life can do so! We need a variety of helpers as there is always something for everyone to do. Our main projects are natural building and gardening, but we also need help with general 'stuff' such as chopping fire wood, cooking, cleaning. As well as creative projects such as photography / film. We are open to almost anything...! We have built our own photovoltaic solar panels (and teach others how to during workshops) using factory rejected cells and old double glazing units. The shallow well on site provides pure water for drinking and washing. In addition, we utilise the small stream which runs through the property for washing and bathing at the strawbale sauna wash house. The sauna is an integral part of Estonian culture and we too frequent ours and use it as a common social hub. With an ice cold plunge pool, chill out decking area with hammocks, fire heated bath tub - its a great place to unwind, get clean and sink a beer or fruit juice in the evenings. Mari has been developing vegetable beds over the past two years which are ripe with produce during summer months. When we first arrived at the site we were involved in the construction of a strawbale greenhouse onsite which is part of our NGO. Just recently we completed a geodesic dome greenhouse which in addition to the strawbale greenhouse, we hope it will provide suitable environment for plenty of fresh veg to grow. We are by no means self-sufficient yet, but its a dream we are working towards. We very much enjoy hosting volunteers and sharing this amazing experience with. If you do decide you enjoy our energy and vision and wish to come and contribute to it, then we are sure that we will get along just great. We believe very much that everybody has a skill set suited to our home and projects. We do a variety of things here which are available for you to help with. From natural building and gardening on a daily basis, to running events and workshops in related Permaculture / sustainable construction areas, and hosting both Estonian and Internmational guests are our forest campsite. The campsite is a new area for us, trying it out only for three months last year, but developing it into one of our main income sources this year. Your help and assistance with this is also required. We have many visitors to our site (friends, family and paying guests) and as so, are looking for Helpers who are positive, able to communicate (!) in a friendly manner, and are interested in sustainable ecological living. Mari and I live in a tiny (40m2) log cabin which was originally built in 1930. It was completely empty and abandoned for 25 years prior to us buying it. With a lot of graft and love, the house is now a beautiful home for us with running water and electricity. During the colder months, we are able to offer helper accommodation on our sofa and also in the sauna. Once spring is here, helpers can be accommodated in tents and the Bender structure, which has a raised bed. It is not that we don't like having guests in our houses, but from experience it is better if everyone gets some privacy! At the same time, we wont let you get cold and suffer! We have army style sleeping bags which we can happily lend. The site is still under development and some may consider a little raw. We obviously, use outdoor compost toilets. These are clean and hygienic. We cook together and eat three meals aday outdoors in the outside kitchen. This is a magical experience, no matter the weather - trust us! Our meals are simple, as we are on a tight budget, but very nutritional and flavorsome! We eat porridge every morning for breakfast. Typically eggs, bread and salad for lunch. Evening meals consist of either pasta, potato, or grain (rice, buckwheat, barely etc) dishes. We eat meat and fish, but the majority of meals are vegetarian. Jim is allergic to nuts and lentils, so these are not consumed on site and ask that you do not bring them with you as cross contamination has been an issue in the past. Although there is a hospital in Loksa town, 5km away, its not a risk we wish to take and hope you can respect that. We follow many of the Permaculture principals and infact, Mari is a qualified teacher so will be running and hosting a few weekend courses at ours this spring and summer. We have two kittens, a dog, chickens and ducks. We enjoy hosting people who have an interest in sustainable ways of living- no matter how small an interest. We enjoy hosting people who like to be active, laugh, smile and share! We typically work long days as we love what we do and would like to utilise the weather so next winter we can relax a little! We encourage you to take time to explore the area as we are 1km from the beach and 3km from two lakes. We are surrounded by lush forest. Short stay helpers are welcome but from experience, we prefer long stay helpers as relationships can be formed and projects 'get stuck into'. A week stay in absolute minimum. We are involved in two non-profit organisations which focus on sustainable development. ThePOOSH.org is a global organisation, similar to helpx, which connects volunteers with sustainable build projects- you may want to check it out also. Our other NGO is more practical based and we teach, facilitate and host workshops in natural & sustainable building. Should we have any scheduled for when you stay you can of course help us out with them and attend for free. Depending on the season that you come, there are loads of opportunities to forage in the forest. There are wild blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, cloud berries, cranberries etc etc!! Plus mushrooms to harvest among other things which we plan to trade at the local farmers market, in addition to enjoying ourselves of course! Help foraging is also appreciated. With the right group attitude we can achieve a lot whilst being very creative at the same time. We wont ask you to do anything we wouldn't want to do ourselves and are happy to host helpers who can work in a group and / or independently - just let us know what works best for you. Its a great space and surrounded by forest so its a pretty magical place to be. Any questions, just ask. . Peace and Good vibes, Jim & Mari

Structure of My Build Project

Individual Builder (ie: Personal Home or Structure)

Building Styles Integrated

Rammed Earth
Earthship/used tires
Straw Bale
Adobe/Mud Bricks
Recycled Materials
Local Materials
Round Wood
Timber Framing
Wood Shakes
PV Solar Panels
Water solar panels
Hot water shower fed from compost
Low environmental impact. Low skill. Low cost!

Sustainable Systems Integrated

Solar Power
Rain Water Collection
Wind Power
Sustainable Appliances
Cob Oven
Composting Toilets
Solar Toilets
Grey-water re-use system
Food system integration
Hot Tub
Indoor plumbing
Passive Solar Hot Water
Heating system
Rocket Stove
Natural Furniture building
We have experience with home made PV solar panels which we make using old factory cells. We have run several workshops on how to build your own PV panels (and continue to do so). We will be using mainly PV to power the site along with a small Honda gennie when the sun isnt behaving. We are working out with other folk here how to get a wind turbine or water turbine operating before winter. If you're around, we can get you involved in this also... We will also be experimenting with solar water shower using an old radiator.

Build Project Facilities

We can provide you with tents, space to park vans and caravans, plus sleeping bags. We have a compost toilet and sauna. During end of spring we wash in the lake most days!

Activities near the Build Project

Well, there is plenty of National Park forest to explore! We have a few bikes which you are more than welcome to use. There are loads of dirt tracks (like the one we live on!) that run through the forest. Or, y can take the coast road and suck in the breathtaking views. There is a small stream running through the land, which we intend to damn and make into a cool of pool. Maybe even a sweet-lodge, if we get the time to build it..... Maybe that's your first project?!? There are two lakes within 15 minute walk through the forest, plus we are orly 1km from the beach. You won't get bored....

What to Expect about Food

We will provide the food
We eat mainly vegetarian these days for all the obvious reasons. We munch wholesome porridge for breakfast, simple eggs, bread and fruit for lunch, with hearty evening meals such as pastas, rice dishes, noodles and potatoes (the estonian favourite!). We personally like spicey food - but if you don't, we'll work it out. We are really into the idea of everyone taking a turn to cook. It's a great way to express yourselves and keeps things interesting! Obviously not compulsory, but if you wanted to cook - it would be very very cool. I'm allergic to nuts, lentils and chickpeas - which makes cooking veggie meals a little more challenging - so they are off the menu. Everything else goes.. We have loads of wild strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, black currents ect growing in the forest - so these get used in porridge, cakes and drinks alot. Although we ask that you contribute to food costs, this is only €1. It helps us keep things tasty as we can then spend what little cash we have on building! If you really have issues finding this €1, please still contact me anyway and i'm sure we can work it out.

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Current Building Status


Type of Build Project

New Structure

Projected Start and End Dates

1 Mar 2016 to 22 Dec 2019

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Type of Volunteer Being Looked for

We are looking for short stay and long stay volunteers - but from experince the longer the better as relationships can form and then you can find a project you want to get stuck into as opposed to odd-jobs. We want you, no matter how long you stay with us, to feel at home. We would love to host volunteers with or without previous building experience, but it is essential that you have the lust to learn new skills and share skills with us and other people at site. Although we have been involved in other build projects, this as only been as volunteers ourselves, so things are a little crazy for us at the moment! What we need are people we can trust, discuss ideas and methods with, embark on tasks together, and also empower volunteers to complete tasks themselves. We enjoy what we are doing, which is physically and mentally challenging - but hugely rewarding. We hope you too will like this forest way of life...!

Where you will be Sleeping

Tents in the forest! If the weather is bad then we can accommodate two POOSHers in the house. If the weather is raining we will eat in the house until the outside kitchen is built, if its dry then cooking and eating outside. Beautiful.

The Number of POOSHers Desired

15 POOSHers


smelsworst's picture

woah.. guys, sounds like a great project. are you still looking for helpers? if so, get in touch and we can see if our timetables line up.

Simon Koekkoek's picture

Awesome project! Will look into some options to come over! Currently staying in Latvia and looking here ourselves for a nice plot to do similar things. How far are you currently? Hoping to be able to do some hands on building work... And ehh, anyone ese from Latvia considering going that way? perhaps we can ride together!

Ed Morgan's picture

Hi, Your project looks amazing. I would love to help out. Please get in touch.

Thanks, Ed.

Ivo Upan's picture

Hi monkeys! Can you grow bananas there? We will be back in April 2015 you better have the sauna ready, we'll bring bananas!

whoowhoowhoo :) I&M
Callum Leona's picture

Living in the forest must have been fun and thrilling for you,I have always admired life in forest,I will get the rushessay right away to write all I know about the house,Thanks for sharing the story
naveen godiyal's picture

hello there !

Would you guys like to visit and help us making the same in northern India in the Himalayas?

Warm regards !

Ashley Diaz's picture

I am interested to come and help and learn as much as I can about natural buildings, if it is still active. If you need help and have patience for beginners with good discipline and strength, I would be happy to provide you with more details. bye, danica 
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