Skip to content

Tour of Alternative Homes

Tour of Alternative Homes
Come see how local residents are making their world greener!

The Sunny Sunday Tour on June 8, 2008 will showcase off-grid and grid-tie homes in Lewis county, passive solar, solar hot water heaters, a windmill, alternative vehicles, natural buildings, water catchment systems, organic gardens and more! The tour is in conjunction with the June 7 Sonnenschein Green Power Festival held in downtown Hohenwald, TN. The tour is free to residents of Tennessee. Donations are welcome. The tour will commence at 9 am and will end around 5:30 pm. Please register by contacting or 888-878-2434 ext 1 or sign up at the Sonnenschein information booth Saturday, June 7. Registration is required so we can send you a map of the tour route.

One stop on the tour:

Solar Springs Research Farm is located in Lewis County, TN on 94 acres of mixed oak-hickory hardwood forest. The Solar Springs Lodge, owned and built by Jennifer and Matthew English is a 2000 square foot timber frame structure with cordwood, adobe and clay/straw infill. We are 100% off grid and derive 90% of our power from solar, wind and biomass. We acquire the remaining 10% from propane and gasoline, which will decrease to 5% hopefully within the next year. We have water catchments that will hold 20,000 gallons of water.

We own a second-hand hybrid electric car, and our trucks run on ethanol, biodiesel or straight vegetable oil. The furnishings for our Lodge—as well as a good deal of the materials to build it—were pieced together largely from second hand stores, salvage piles, thrift shops, and “slightly damaged” bins. Those we bought new were recyclable, local, handmade or non-toxic.

At Solar Springs we are committed to living and sharing our values of sustainability, diversity, creativity and beauty—all modeled in the design and construction of our Lodge. We built it as sustainably as possible with the help of friends over a period of two years using local, natural materials and second-hand or hand-made items. The design is meant to be multifunctional—practical, applicable, adaptable, and beautiful as well as cycling energy back into the living ecosystem of which we are a part.

We designed the Lodge creatively, yet with a pleasing aesthetic that we hope feels comfortable and inspiring for people used to conventional building styles. We want others to see that our natural second-hand construction and off-grid living is a real possibility that can be enjoyable and very comfortable. We also kept good track of our receipts to show that building green can be economically savvy too, especially when you calculate money saved over the long term as well as social and environmental costs.

Posted 5.14.08