The Owner Built Home and Homestead: Building an Organic Ecosystem

The Owner Built Home and Homestead author Ken Kerns talks about building an organic ecosystem instead of the traditional house-barn-shop-garden concept, home ventilation and rammed earth.

| May/June 1971

  • Ken Kerns discusses building an organic ecosystem, home ventilation and rammed earth.
    Ken Kerns discusses building an organic ecosystem, home ventilation and rammed earth.
    Photo by Fotolia/maksymowicz
  • Diagram of homestead eco-system.
    Diagram of homestead eco-system.
    Diagram by the MOTHER EARTH NEWS staff

  • Ken Kerns discusses building an organic ecosystem, home ventilation and rammed earth.
  • Diagram of homestead eco-system.

Ken Kerns, author of The Owner Built Home and Homestead, shares his views on building an organic ecosystem for the homestead, home ventilation and rammed earth.

The Owner Built Home and Homestead: Building an Organic Ecosystem

Ken Kern, author of The Owner-Built Home and The Owner-Built Homestead, is an amazing fellow and everyone interested in decentralist, back-to-the-land, rational living should know of his work. Back in 1948 he began collecting information on low-cost, simple and natural construction materials and techniques. He combed the world for ideas, tried them and started writing about his experiments.

Eventually, Mildred Loomis started publishing Kern's articles in The Interpreter, Way Out and Green Revolution. Ken has also issued a three year series of pieces (called Technic) on his own and a greenhouse-sun pit design of his has been featured in Organic Gardening.

This series of Ken Kern's work is being taken both from The Owner-Built Home (already published) and The Owner-Built Homestead (to be published). To give you advance chapters of Homestead as they are written I have to break my presentation of Home on an irregular basis for which I apologize. If you want Home all at once it's available right now direct from Ken Kern, Sierra Route, Oakhurst, California 93644 for $10.00. — MOTHER EARTH NEWS

The Owner-Built Homestead, Chapter 2
Homestead Plan

The total homestead layout — from structure design to soil and crop management practices — expresses more than any other single item, exactly where a homesteader is at in his viewing of lifestyle. A farm building lays open the thoughts and conceptions of its creator. The homestead layout and design that I am here proposing is therefore based on particular principles of life, deemed either self-evident or essential to my own thinking-through process. These principles make up the warp of this book — with individual homestead topics weaving consistently through the warp, like the welt that comprises the beauty and charm of finished tapestry.

My clients oftentimes express the view that they wish, as a basis of their plan, an "organic" homestead. To me this is like saying the basis of their existence on the land is on the same level as the design and construction of a compost heap. Familiarity with the organic gardening and farming movement is possibly responsible for their move to the land; but the organics concept is very elementary — certainly not significant enough for one to use as a base of his homestead-life. People too often grasp or view the organic gardening concept as a universal panacea — in lieu of the necessary study and discipline that must, precede a true understanding of land development and food production.

11/28/2007 7:02:41 PM

I am interested in learning more about the John and Dan Magdiel slip form method of building walls. Is there any way I could find out from Ken Kern or do or do you know if you I can order their patented forms. If so could you send me the info to the email address above.

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