Pumphouse News

by Anthony Weston

For the emerging farm operation we need water! Accordingly, we drilled a well this spring — 350 feet down — and since then have been assembling the pumping and water storage system and the pumphouse that will house it all and grace our land as well. 

Early on we decided to run the water system entirely on solar panels – we’re an ecovillage, after all – and Jeffry has been hard at work wiring them in and plumbing the water system. As of 4:44 pm on July 20th, the system went live!!! One pump pulls fresh cold pure water out of our 350-ft well and into the storage tank; the other pumps the water from the storage tank into a smaller pressure tank that then feeds the irrigation hoses at the proper pressure. Solar panels run the first pump when the sun’s out and charge the batteries that run the second pump on demand. Sound like complicated wiring? It was! Jeffry claims to be neither electrician or plumber, but you’d never guess from the results. Of course, since then it’s mostly been raining, but still, water is ready to go.

Meanwhile a new pumphouse is taking shape alongside the 1500-gallon water storage tank.  The foundation with its low masonry wall as well as the floor are built entirely out of salvaged chunks of concrete from driveway or sidewalk tear-outs around Durham (lots of heavy lifting!) with some facing stone found in Hart’s Mill’s own fields and woods. I’ve topped off the masonry wall  in front with a nice wide bench for people to sit under the wide-overhanging roof and look out at the land. Come check it out!

Framing has progressed far enough that the outline of the structure has clearly emerged. We’re about to move into slip-straw construction on the rest of the walls — please watch for notices of special workdays and workshops in September as we experiment with this earth-building technique with the help of Greg Allen, our cob guru. Eventually there will also be a produce-washing sink area near the tank, and an outdoor shower around the back – yes, a full-service pumphouse! 

By the way, if anyone has any (or access to any) interesting yard sculpture (big colorful heron statue, say, or a water goddess – donations warmly contemplated), please be in touch with me – I might try one suitable statue for the top of the roof… we’ll see. 

Many hands have pitched in at times: Paul, Virginia, Victoria, Amy, Ruthie, and Kenny. Our intern Jess and an old student and friend of mine, Nate, are shown hard at work in this photo. Randy is donating slip and some roofing left over from Cob Haven. Thanks to you all! Anyone who’d like to join in the building effort, please be in touch -– there’s lots more to do!

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