First of all, tell me about the off-grid home you’ve lived in for
the past decade or so.
The home was built in 1888, and renovated by the previous owners.
It’s located on 150 acres surrounded by lakes and bush north of
Kingston, Ontario. We also have a guest house the previous owners
built, which houses our office, a garage and several extra bedrooms.
Ninety percent of our electricity comes from our solar panels, five
percent from the wind and five percent from our gasoline generator
that we run in months with little sun or wind, like November and
Despite being a century-old farmhouse and off the grid, we have all
of the conveniences of a modern home, including satellite Internet
and a satellite dish for our TV. In that sense, our home is a
wonderful blend of old, traditional styling with modern
Why, how and when did you become interested in renewable energy?
The house is about $150,000 from the nearest utility pole, so the
decision to go with renewable energy was an economic one! As our
family became more environmentally aware, it was a logical
progression to look at where our energy came from. We had already
reduced our garbage to one can every eight weeks for our family of
four, walked and cycled as much as possible, ate a vegetarian diet
from as many local sources as we could, and started looking at the
impact of electricity generation. Ontario’s power is still 25
percent coal that has horrible implications for greenhouse gases,
and the 50 percent of the electricity produced by nuclear power is
leaving a legacy of waste for future generations that we
fundamentally disagree with.
Was moving to the country a big step for you and your family?
Yes, it was an enormous step! Moving away from friends and family
and the support system that they provided was scary. We were home-
schooling our two daughters at that point and we left behind a
wonderful network of other homeschooling families. Also, we were
accustomed to being able to walk to a grocery store, the library and
other necessities. Now our nearest neighbor is four kilometers away
(and a long-distance phone call!). When we first moved here, our
closest grocery store was a half-hour drive away. (Luckily one has
opened up in our village, 13 kilometers away.)
It was terrifying. We were moving three hours from the customers who
supported our electronic publishing business, to a place that was
powered by the sun and wind....
This article was published in 2008 in Natural Life Magazine.