The Dacha Project, founded in 2008, is a do-it-yourself, egalitarian and educational homestead. We are comprised of seven friends and an extensive circle of supporters and community members. Situated on 16 acres in Finger Lakes region of New York, we originally built an off-the-grid, earth-bermed, solar-passive house, powered by active solar and a diesel generator converted to run on waste vegetable oil. Recently, we have connected to the grid, but are expanding our solar array. In addition, we built, or rather sculpted, a straw-bale cottage, are working on a fruit and nut tree orchard, and are ever-expanding our gardens. We are almost entirely owner built, with innovative designs for our energy, heating, water, waste and agriculture systems. We are still learning the art of homesteading and always experimenting with new ideas of sustainable living.
We aim to live in conjunction with the land that supports us, to present alternatives to wasteful practices, and to have ample time to follow various individual and collaborative pursuits, be they artistic, political, economic or anything else. Most significantly we work to facilitate and inspire community building here locally and everywhere, because we are continually awed by the power and fun of collaboration.
In Russia a dacha (да́ча in russky) was a retreat home, to get away from urban areas and connect to nature. The richer crowd used them for social and cultural gatherings, while the poor squatted in them and grew their own food since the gov couldn’t supply enough. Many didn’t have indoor plumbing. Even today many people have dachas and enjoy growing things and sunbathing and sitting around the samovar drinking tea.
Our dacha is, of course, influenced by the present world around us, and the ideas we’ve picked up while alive in our own generation on the other side of the globe. Still, there is something of the Russian dacha in the feeling we bring to the project. It just fit.