Agroecology and Natural building

Developer and manager, off-grid agroecology homesteads.

Matt decided to walk the talk of attempting to live more sustainably and so in 2010 along with Sasha founded Niche Unity Agroecology, they bought a small piece of land just outside the mission village of Suurbraak, and then self-built from cob, felled timber from the nearby forest and river stones their off-grid family home (see below), developed agroecological systems (British Alpine goats vegetable garden, orchard) to support and sustain themselves via the produce they grew (fruit and vegetables), milk production (yoghurt, cheese), brewing and slaughtering (goat, poultry and rabbit).

Their enterprise is captured in a dissertation by Matt submitted as part of an M.Phil with the Sustainability Institute, University of Stellenbosch, and awarded with distinctions available here.

Below captures the type of natural building repertoire:

Bringing an idea into fruition

The structure slowly takes shape

Building the cob pizza oven

Cob walls and screed from site clay, river sand and straw

Roof beams built using felled trees from a nearby forest

Putting in solar

Roofing and solar panel

Timber Frame option.

Matt also solo-builds timber frame and has a start up timber frame micro home which costs less than R100 000, inclusive of off grid systems.

A 3,6m x3,6m Micro home has a kitchen, lounge and loft double bed, folding doors open the space onto a covered deck. Self sufficient with water harvest, solar electricity and outdoor shower and toilet.

 

Living sustainably with agrarian systems integrated into households 

Matt specializes in integrated farming systems, which channel farm waste into a diversity of produce. Specialities are small ruminant dairy operations, gourmet mushroom cultivation and beer brewing.