If you really think the environment is less important than the economy, try holding your breath while you count your money

Pr. Guy McPhersonSchool of Natural Resources, University of Arizona

Permaculture is a sustainable design method that strives to produce no waste and incorporates three design ethics

Care of the planet, Care of the people and Fair Share.

Permaculture integrates people into Nature’s design. A permaculture design provides us with shelter, food, water, income, community and aesthetic and spiritual fulfillment within a balanced and healthy biological community.

How have we applied Permaculture in the hostel?

Airesbuenos Hostel is an aspiring Urban Permaculture Hostel. We say aspiring because we are far from totally sustainable but we innovate constantly.

Take a fifty-nine year old structure and try to make it more efficient. Where do you start? From the top no less.  Insulate it, seal it, change the lighting, install solar panels to heat the water, improve the heating system to make it more efficient, make a demonstration garden with vertical garden to show what you can do with a small space, plant a food forest, make a compost system that can handle food waste from 30 people, establish a recycling system to process what is accepted, install photo-voltaic panels for emergency lighting, reduce the consumption of water by using, lightweight towels, provide filtered water to dissuade people from buying plastic bottled water, offer returnable beer bottles to reduce glass waste, make greenhouse kitchen to harvest passive energy, make worm bins that function as benches for composting, make a rain chain to filter roof water before it goes into the river, and last but not least, create a culture that inspires sharing and community so people get off their fucking phones and see the magic that is around them.  That is what we do to make permaculture happen in the hostel.  Come join us!!

The Forest Farmacy

A long time ago, 1996, the owner, Viella, the Crazy Californian Lady, bought a parcel of land not far from Valdivia with the dream of making it totally sustainable. At that time she did not know the word Permaculture but years later, in San Francisco, she learned that permaculture was what she was trying to do in the forest. She called the main cabin “El Pudu” after the mother pudu with her fawn she saw the first time she visited the plot.

So after more than 20 years, the name Forest Farmacy was born and we put to on google maps.  Today it is a stellar example of a self sufficient home in the middle of the Valdivian Rainforest. Just 12 kilometers from Valdivia at the top of a hill, you will find a one hectare parcel of forest that hosts a stunning array of biodiversity.  The fauna is quickly being encroached by development from surrounding development.  Isn’t it funny how people buy a piece of native forest and want to turn it into a city plot?

There are four structures.  The main cabin, El Pudu, which is made of 90 percent recycled materials.  At the time it was built in 1998, many of Valdivia’s historic mansions were be demolished so she purchased the materials to construct the cabin. You will see some strange proportions when visiting because the window were taken from huge houses. Even the window panes are from original houses. Who knows how old they are.

The El Pudu cabin has two biomass heating systems. One is the typical wood combustion, with a serpentine to heat hot water that connects to an outdoor shower.  The other is a more efficient slow combustion. The cabin orientation is to the north to maximize solar radiation. The windows on the south side are small to minimize heat loss. The roof collects the bulk of drinking water and stores it in two 5,000 liter tanks at the top of the lot.  The electricity is provide by three 600 watts photo-voltaic panels.  There is an indoor composting toilet and bathroom. A small kitchen is adjacent to the open living dinning room and on the loft above is the sleeping area with an adjacent balcony overlooking the forest.

The second major structure is the Tower.  This structure was originally build to use up the surplus materials left over from the original El Pudu Construction.  Later another two floors were added with a 1500 liter water storage tank placed on top to give pressure to the main cabin.  The tower also is made from recycled materials and features a small kitchen and living space and a library on the second floor.

The most recent structure is the Japanese Bathing Complex completed in 2017.  This structure has a hyper insulated sauna with capacity for 8 people heated by a an ultra efficient Rocket stove.  it has a stainless steel water tank surrounding the combustion chamber that heat the water for the Japanese O Furo.  It also has it own rainwater collection system that stores water for bathing.  Nestled int he middle of the forest, It is truly a delight to bath and relax birds.

The wood is stored in Solar Woodshed made from recycled materials.  It has a north facing, transparent roof with vents to cycle the heat produced from the solar radiation to dry the wood.

The Hobbit House is lightweight structure with a living roof used for storage.

The compositing toilet is Japanese style, that means squat style, which is anatomically optimum for complete release, if you know what I mean.  It is like having a baby, who invented the horizontal position for childbirth, it makes it harder for the mother…  So does a sit shit.

A system of trails throughout the plot offer a delightful introduction to the selva valdiviana.