Living an off-grid lifestyle is a dream for many, but it’s also incredibly tough to achieve. Still, there are a select few who manage to do it with such style that it makes the transition from running the endless rat race to sustainable living look relatively easy. Ambitious couple Arina and Zen Moriya have done just that by creating an off-grid oasis within the jungles of Pahoa, Hawaii. The Root Down Farm is a self-built homestead that enables the couple to embrace a close connection with nature.
The sustainable permaculture farm and off-grid home are located in a community called Puna. After visiting in 2008, the couple immediately fell in love with the community’s progressive, laid-back style and history of sustainable living. The region’s mild weather, along with the lush jungle vegetation, led them to purchase a 3-acre lot to begin a new way of life.
The resulting Root Down Farm includes three structures: the main house, which is 1,272-square-feet, a 384-square-foot cottage and a sweet, 360-square-foot bungalow that the couple rents out on Airbnb. All of the structures are surrounded by an expansive permaculture farm that provides vegetables and fruits for the couple and their friends.
Inside each building, the furnishings were chosen to reflect the couple’s minimalist design style. Nearly everything was handmade by Zen or found secondhand.
The couple did most of the construction work themselves over the span of 2.5 years, along with help of a professional contractor and a few very good friends. The climate was an essential element in their building strategy, enabling them to rely on a few passive features. “Because we don’t have harsh winter, we were able to build structures with no windows (only screens to keep bugs out) and build with single wall with no insulation,” Zen told Inhabitat.
Perhaps the only downside to building in a remote area on a tropical island is the fact that they weren’t able to find many repurposed materials to use for the structures. Instead, they turned to nature. “Reclaimed building materials are not easy to find on this island. There is only one or two vendors who salvage old building materials on this island but they charge premium,” Zen explained. “We did try to use as much natural material as possible, such as ohia tree for the main post in the house, guava trees for railing and fence.”
Root Down Farm operates completely off of the grid thanks to solar power generation. There is no access to electricity, water or sewers in the area, so the couple built their own self-sufficient systems. They use multiple wells for their water needs and all of the structures are equipped with composting toilets.
The permaculture gardens that surround the properties were a crucial component of the project. Arina and Zen now enjoy an abundance of organic food year-round, including coconuts, avocados, banana, papayas, root vegetables, tomatoes and more, all of which they also share with friends.
Images by Zen Moriya