Monkton Wyld is an educational centre for sustainable living, run by a resident community with the help of volunteers. It runs courses on low-impact and land-based skills for residents and day visitors, and accommodation for tired city dwellers, writers and people attending its conferences.
When the main building was made over to the trust, it was far from green, with coal fires in every room service by an army of domestic workers. Big single glazed sash windows leak heat copiously. Some of these issues have been addressed with solar photovoltaic panels, and a heating system run off a new wood burning boiler and second-hand solar thermal tubes, as well as a wood-burning cooking stove and other stoves in communal rooms.
It is in the other buildings, and in the 13 acre grounds, where most progress has been made. Lyndon and Sarah’s house is built from compressed straw bales, rendered with lime on the outside and cob inside, cladded with larch planks, all wood locally sourced. The house is off-grid, with two PV panels providing 160W, and a small wind turbine another 20W, to the house with a backup lead-acid gel battery storing 3.8kWh. When all the LED lights are on the house uses 36W! Water is heated from a wood burner through an ingenious device invented by Lyndon. Insulation is provided by Eco-wool, manufactured from recycled plastic bottles. As the family has grown, Sarah and Lyndon have simply knocked holes in walls and built further extensions using low-impact materials.
Other buildings include compost toilets, some producing grade 1 compost (suitable for food crops) , others grade 2. A reed bed filters the sewage from the main house. Rainwater is harvested for flushing in the accommodation block. Another house Is build round a caravan, providing well-insulated accommodation at low extra cost. Six off-grid dwelling show different approaches to sustainable living.
“The efforts made so far include fitting solar panels to the roof, installing wood-fuelled boilers and stoves, collecting rainwater for flushing toilets and adding a reed-bed system for filtering sewage, building, maintaining and popularising compost toilets (our palatial ones have won prizes!), using food waste for compost, growing our own fruits and vegetables, running our own micro-dairy, farming the land organically, using scythes to manage the grassland, recycling and reusing as much as possible, bulk-buying from ethical suppliers and cooking and eating communally, car-sharing, and lots and lots of people power and hand tools.”
Sustainability at Monkton Wyld (PDF, 4MB)