In 2003, with my strong intentions and the support of those close to me, I (Edwin Basye) started envisioning a new small community based on sustainable living practices, holistic health, and spiritual intentions. In December of 2003, I journeyed from Rochester, New York to the land that was donated for this project. Since that time, there has been slow but significant progress toward that goal. In late summer of 2004, Mike Fallwell joined me (Edwin Basye) as a guest at the Sanctuary with the goal of developing a new revolutionary windpower machine. Although we were not able to build a viable prototype because of scaling issues, Mike's ideas have been pursued by other windmill researchers.
We acquired many items from Windtree Ranch in 2004, which no longer had use for the items. Among these were a motorhome and three pickup-style camper units. Initially we powered the site with a generator acquired from a neighbor, but in the fall of 2005 we installed a modest solar system consisting of two 120-watt panels and six golf-car batteries, which has done very well powering lights, running a laptop computer, small 12V cooler, and various appliances and power tools. We later upgraded the solar system with a 3rd panel, to run a small refrigerator.
We now have a second solar system and our first experimental adobe dome, which is quite a success. So much so that we plan to build more larger ones.
We have also installed a koi pond.
About the Area
Douglas is a town in Arizona on the border of Mexico and is less than 50 miles from New Mexico. It seems to be on the verge of a significant growth spurt. It has grown from about 15,500 people in 2004 to about 17,000 today. A 500-home development is underway just outside of town, and homes were selling well until the mortgage crisis hit.
Douglas has generally mild winters but occasionally gets down to single digits. The winter of 2007-2008 was very mild -- our first hard frost date was December 10th. The winter of 2008-2009 was even warmer, with the first hard frost on December 26th! There is often a 35 to 40 degree temperature difference between overnight low and daytime high, so a rare cold morning of 10 degrees could end up being a fairly pleasant 50 degrees by afternoon.
The land is approximately 11 miles from Douglas. The land has many small ravines and one large central ravine where erosion has occurred, partially due to open range cattle over-grazing. The soil is generally sandy and rocky in spots, especially on the upper slopes. Some of the lower portions of the land have red clay mixed with rocks beneath the one foot of topsoil and decomposed rock.
All neighboring lands are approximately 40 acres but can (and a few have been) be subdivided into smaller (min. 5-acre) parcels.
The flora is dominated by mesquite, a leguminous (nitrogen-fixing) plant which has edible green beans in late spring. and mature beans during the monsoon season (July/August) which can be harvested and ground into flour. Mesquite can also be harvested for limited amounts of small firewood. Other flora include various wildflowers, sage, chaparral (creosote bush), grasses, cacti, century plants, and a few juniper trees and oak trees.
The notable fauna are deer, javelinas, coyotes, skunks, ringtails, ground squirrels, cottontail rabbits, jackrabbits, quail, red-tail hawks, owls, hummingbirds, many varieties of lizards including the Gila Monster, and rattlesnakes.