Inspiration Station: Asheville, NC

I headed to Asheville, N.C., last weekend for an amazing wedding where I was bombarded with excellent inspiration for Better Farm.

1. Rainwater Collection We've been tinkering around with several different ideas for rainwater collection bins. While at a community garden that is part of the Bountiful Cities Project (and which served as the site for the wedding's ceremony and reception), I came upon this setup. It's a simplistic design with strong hardware (note the gutter attachment at the top and industrial-strength nozzle at the bottom), which can hold several hundred gallons of water:

2. Cob Construction There's something about earth mixed with sand and straw that is very appealing. Cob building is an ancient construction method that produces ovens, saunas, and homes that are extremely durable, with wonderful insulation. The garden in Asheville has this cob oven, in which we cooked several delicious pizzas during the wedding:
3. Compost Toilet Lest we lose sight of the value of alternative restroom facilities, behold this outhouse, complete with compost toilet ("Sprinkle 1 to 2 cups of sawdust over your deposit!" a sign inside explains) and green roof:

4. Raised Flower Beds Back at the carriage house where many of the kidddies stayed, we had some raised beds in the backyard. Not a bad idea for planting - especially with the clay- and sand-based soil of the Farm:

The brain races.

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.