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27 YEARS Living Off-Grid on a Self-Built Island Homestead

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Added by Mel in Variety


Freedom Cove is a rare and very special place. It's a man-made floating island that acts as a homestead, an art installation, and a home to Catherine and Wayne in Tofino, BC, Canada.
The project started with a small float home that was built using wood that had washed ashore after a storm, and since moving into it in 1992, they've gradually added new buildings, greenhouses, and an outdoor dance floor to create a fully off-grid, floating homestead where they can grow most of their own food, earn a living as artists, and reduce their environmental footprint.

They have used as much reclaimed material as possible, including the flotation technology that has been discarded from nearby fish farms over the years.

The site where they chose to settle in was chosen specifically because it had a fresh water source above sea level so they could have gravity fed water, and because the cove provided protection from winter storms.

They use a mix of solar panels, a generator, propane and firewood for their various energy needs, and they have a new microbial wastewater system that will allow them to fully purify their waste. Before that, they had a tank that could be emptied in open water like most boats and vessels do.

Catherine King and Wayne Adams are artists and carvers who make beautiful work and showcase some of it in their floating gallery.

If you'd like to visit Freedom Cove in Tofino, BC, you can book a tour with Browning Pass here:




Video Script:: 

I was inspired by birds they're the ones that grow and build nests without permission I use the materials around me whatever was here recycled to do this no matter where I live in this country that's how I would approach it what's there what's available what's recyclable and most of what I've done here sixty percent has come through trade and water with my art as a carver at my labour my dream was to live out and to grow my own food to live as self-sufficiently as possible and get a sense of living in the rhythms of nature nature was inspiration to me and I can't imagine not living in nature the two of us together were a team on this project and we both agreed and talked to each other about what we wanted to do for a short period of time then after ten years look at each other and decide whether we wanted to keep doing it or not it takes all your money all your time and everything you have to do it after 10 years we looked at each other and said you know that's keep going so we're 27 years at it and really enjoying work alone we talked the first day we met about wanting to live out and wanting to explore areas we did an exchange with a friend stayed in a cabin not far from here and a storm blew in the wood that started the building of our house we built it on shore there and then 1992 we moved into the cove when we first started the important thing of course was to have a roof over our head so we built the house which was half the size it is now because I am a dancer I did need a place to move so the next thing was the dance floor because I knew I wanted to grow my own food then everything began to expand as my garden expanded so started with a salad garden that was one float and then expanded oh I want to grow more than salads so that was another float and it just kept going like that the greenhouses there's four of them because when you're trying to grow food on the water you have the coolness coming from underneath as well as the strong winds that we have so plants needed extra protection especially getting started and certain plants need to stay in the greenhouse like tomatoes peppers for example the need extra heat and now I can pretty much grow everything I want with the greenhouses the gallery building came into it because we always wanted to have a place to display our artwork other than taking it to town in other people's galleries when you're displaying your work in other people's galleries you have to pay a large percentage this way we don't have to pay any percentage to anyone so we really enjoy having that the beach was Wayne's idea Wayne had the dream of having a place where at the end of our day we could just sit and relax and I have to say that I really enjoy it and I really enjoy at the end of the day having that place to go and sit the fire pit area adds a nice ambience especially when family and friends are here because we can sit around the campfire in the evening our two floating boat houses are really an important thing on the west coast because it rains very hard and so that eliminated having to bail boats constantly and keeps your motors in in better shape the lighthouse building has an actual light up top and has an extra shower in it for family and friends have come to visit we have bathtub and shower in the house that Wayne made and our candle factory building where we still make our candles I'm floating two million pounds I get the joy of engineering it and it took us 10 years to accumulate the material to what it is now it's no secret I built my own Island but the idea can you live out of the forest and off the land and on the water and not disturb and keep the biodiversity around you was really a dream of mine to be part of nature because it's it's nature's been my guide on how to live with it we are floating completely on recycled fish farm material so we didn't always float on that they we went many years where we were on wood structures but Wayne got an opportunity from the fish farm people they needed to get rid of it and they were happy for him to take it and then that opened up a whole new world of security for us really because when it's wood it rots and after well you have to replace it now we have armored styrofoam which is already underneath the systems was already placed there and it lasts indefinitely it makes it very secure for us and the metal based systems also make it better for us in terms of durability when we have storms and the way Wayne has us tied into Shore he has this tied in with big ropes in a spiderweb formation so when we get hit by the wind we move back and forth all in one piece rather than the buildings bumping against each other that was learning by doing we spent two years bumping together up in the middle of the night in storms and then we figured that out so that was really good we still have storm damage but we just considered storm damage is part of our lifestyle and we use it as inspiration to change because the whole place is a big installation art piece that transforms in some way every year and usually winter storms cause the inspiration for that well one of the opportunities of this site Hesperia was the water was above me it's a lake above me I looked for that everywhere on the coast where is a place above us there was a water source which means I could pipe from there into my house without pumps or anything gravity-fed water and that's what I did I have a four inch pipe coming down in here and that allowed us to have the garden the water we have been gifted a Go Green wastewater system which will completely microbial or purify everything and prior to this we used a tank you can see where everything goes into it gets whipped up as a soup and then dumped out in big water but now we won't even have to do that it will be transformed purified we compost things that are organic we burn things that can be burned and so that we're taking as little as possible to recycling in town yeah bring us a little here and bring this little out yeah we don't have to go to town very often I get helping my son to go every couple of weeks because of mail but now I only go when I want pop chips and candy we all need power I have two types solar and and backup generator the thing about energy these days is it's intermittent no matter what it is so you're gonna have a backup generator my solar system is 25 years old so it only works when the Sun hits it but the new solar systems work under cloudy skies and everything so I use both and right now we're on solar I just love it but you know it both takes maintenance so I recommend somebody start with a nice little economic little generator a honda take the same brands but they've been very good and that's what I use for back Banerjee move away we heat our places this firewood and I live in the temperate rain forest we pick it up off the beaches after its pushed out of the rivers we never have to cut in the forest or anything and we go through a lot of wood I live I have a single walled house so I don't have molds or mildew it's not sealed I have one inch insulation so that the air breathe and I don't get mold and mildew problems which is very difficult here because in the winter it's a lot of rain nothing dries out and I make sure my house cries from the inside out so I don't have that encroachment but I use a lot more wood than most do in nature I can catch and eat anything I want but I just fish I trade for my other things because I'm not a vegetarian I do certain meats and I do eat fish crab and prawns I am a vegetarian I grow fava beans I grow peas this year I grew corn quinoa and black beans so I'm growing a lot of things that provide protein by doing complementary protein if everything collapsed we'd be okay we could make it yeah because money has never been the important thing to either Wayne and I neither of us have ever given each other grief over financial situations and we've been many times when we've been down to our last 20 cents and we both just relaxed about it and we just say okay we're going to work on a carving we're going to create something and we're gonna go to town and see if we can sell it and because we believed in that it has always worked so we've had many times when we're right down to nothing but we know we're gonna be okay and sure enough enough comes in to keep us going I was raised by a mother who was an anti-aircraft gunner and she used to say sunshine life is hard and and it gets harder and if you understand that you'll do fine on this job it's not an easy life it's hard work and you have to do the work if you don't do the work then you can't live this way it is work of choice so I feel very blessed I'm deeply grateful to be living how I'm living I'm deeply grateful for Wayne and I on our partnership and willingness to do this deeply grateful for what we have created and what we're living on we don't recommend everyone do this we recommend everyone do their own dream and there's many dreams that she's too many too much choice but this is one way you see we even how far one can go with two people and it's possible that you can't create a floating dream but we say create your own because many ways of doing that [Music] waking up in the morning looking out seeing water all around me seeing incredible forests all around me seeing wildlife all around me seeing the beauty of what we've created to add to that it's just an incredible thing to wake up to I can't imagine living any other way we live to the rhythms of the Moon in the tide out here not to the rhythms of corporate and business and that is vital to me it is our dream to live here to the end of our days that is what we want and we are working in every way we can to make that possible we will have to build another house at some point this house as a float house has done amazingly well to last 27 years most only last 10 but we will have to because it starts to rot from the bottom up and we didn't have the technology that we have out with the recycled fish farm systems at that time so when we rebuild this time we'll have that type of technology underneath so it will have a very long life every once in a while I'm in and out onto the dance floor opening that full moon and say beam me up Scotty I'm ready to live [Laughter] please share this video if you liked it also be sure to subscribe to exploring alternatives and check out our playlists for more stories like this thanks for watching [Music]


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