At the end of May, on the same day when we went to see the Bill Fisch Education Centre in the York Regional forest, we were lucky to visit another noteworthy place.
Audrey’s Local Living Centre – a farm, located only five minutes away from The Bill Fisch in the same town of Witchurch-Stouffville. Here, Audrey Baynes (one of the Toronto LBC Collaborative founders) is turning one of her barns into a local green education centre. It will be a place where those interested in sustainable practices with regards to food and architecture can obtain new knowledge and practical skills, exchange their ideas and connect with like-minded people of their community. As per Audrey’s vision, it will also be “a food hub of local producers, workshops for food preserving, seed saving…the list is endless!”.
Audrey’s team, with the help of Engineering students of UofT, had studies done that will guide them on how to convert the existing barn into a model that reflects the Living Building Challenge. The LBC recommendations will be combined with the design aspects of Earthship (a type of passive solar house that is made of both natural and recycled materials) & other off-grid technologies.
In regards to space layout, the main level of this two-storey educational centre will house a multifunctional area for classes/workshops and a community kitchen, while the second floor will feature a residential model unit which will work as a teaching tool and as a small sustainable hotel. Visitors could stay in this unit for the weekend to test out the perks and adventures of living in a truly sustainable home powered by solar energy (a 10kWh MicroFIT project installed on the roof), with shower supplied with rain water, water-free composting toilet, natural ventilation system and a vegetable garden right at their footsteps, near the house.
Right now the farm grows various organic vegetables for the local markets. Audrey grows organic garlic on one part of her garden lot and shares the rest of it with an enthusiastic couple from Way To Grow! Gardens – Jason and Tarsila – the real fans of food, nature and organic farming. They grow amazing produce and have a table at Anette Village Farmers’ Market in Toronto every Wednesday 3-7 pm. See the photos of this year’s crop below!
Audrey’s house, located on this farm, is also equipped with sustainable features: solar water heater and radiant floor technology. The Solar thermal water heater panel supplements the hot water tank that supplies the radiant flooring.
Interested to get the tour of the current green features of the farm, the market garden and to learn more about the future local green education centre?
Feel free to contact Audrey through Audrey’s Local Living Centre page and follow this interesting project!