Image by Rowan Heuvel

Project Motu

Our goal is to create a fully self sustaining community that helps feed the local population with fresh organic produce on a motu (islet) of the atoll AHE, one of many atolls that consist of the Tuamotus. Locals are normally required to ship in produce (or anything really) at an astronomical price and it doesn’t necessarily always arrive in the freshest condition (they don’t receive and/or eat rotten food, to be clear, but a farm on the motu would certainly cut the shipping costs down and provide truly fresh organic produce to these wonderful people).   We would also like for this project to formulate into a place where people who help build it, as well as others with interest, can visit and stay for some time in order to reconnect with themselves and nature, while also helping us and the community live off the land.   Living on an atoll in the south pacific almost forces upon people a more simple life that involves living off the ocean, the land if it is cultivated, and reverting back to a more collectivistic lifestyle.  For this project to work, we will need a lot of help and support.  It is going to require time, patience, and lots of preparation work.  It is also going to require many tools that we don’t have and skills that we also don’t have-yet.

Stage one of Project Motu can be broken up into two separate, yet corresponding parts: to set up a basic communal living area with the natural materials of the land (coconut trees, kahaia trees, etc) and to start and work a fully functioning farm. Stage two consists of setting up a dome that will be the center of the community and serve as a water catchment, storage facility, provide security for the community if it gets hit by a hurricane or other natural disaster, and also serve as an area where we’d like to attempt to brew, ferment, and distill alcoholic products-another product that people spend money importing. Really, we are trying to get back to a simpler time, a time and place where people aren’t consumed by material goods and keeping up with the Jones’s. We are truly looking forward to some good, personally fulfilling hard work, quality fresh food, great company, and if there is an occasional singalong at night by the fire, sipping on some good homemade beer,wine, or cocktail, that would definitely be the bees knees.

We are going to need help to get this project off the ground and running, and we will gladly accept and welcome anyone who wishes to help and be a part of this project.  You might be asking yourself how you can help contribute? Well, there are a few different ways in which you can help out in Project Motu:

This project will require some money in order to buy the things we need that we can’t necessarily make ourselves, such as durable plastic cisterns that will allow us to retain any rainwater we might catch, as well as other things (power tools, hand tools, etc). Thus, charitable donations are very much welcomed and highly appreciated!

Donations of tools or other things that the project might need (a list of required supplies is located at the end of the article) will also be accepted with the utmost appreciation.

Finally, perhaps one of the most unique and exciting ways that you can help us out is to donate your time and come join us in making this project a reality!  The end result of this ongoing mini self-sustaining community will be no-doubt amazing, but building it will be a unique learning opportunity in itself.  It will be an opportunity to construct local buildings (thatch fare ni’aus), made of natural materials provided by the land, and it will be a memorable experience in which we will learn as a team how to cultivate land most might assume as sterile. If you decide to come and help us out, it’s not like you’ll be required to work all-day, everyday. Work will be divided up and you will be responsible for completing a task with others in a predetermined amount of time.  We also highly believe in Siesta (aka. lunch and NAP time), and free time to enjoy what this beautiful atoll and lifestyle has to offer- clear lagoon water, fishing, surfing at the pass, etc.  You will definitely have enough free time to go and explore the area we will be living in.  Also, if you have speciality skills that you think would aid in this project, please let us know as we can always use more help…. many hands makes light work, or in Hawaii, they say laulima.

Stage one will consist of setting up the basics for living and a working farm.  We will have to clear some of the land so we can set up the living courters, communal kitchen, bathrooms, eating areas, workshops, and gathering areas. Some land will also need to be cleared for the farm area(s).  Our general idea for the farming area(s) is raised planters, so we have control of the soil. We might consider doing some aquaponics so we can, essentially, hit the ground running and not have to worry about how long composting may take nor how long the wait might be before freshly grown food is made available. The natural soil on the motu is made up of sand, coral, and a little bit of dirt; not the best for farming. So in order for the farm to be successful in producing various kinds of produce, we will need to compost, and compost a lot.  The composting will take months of work before any results are seen and then months of growing to see if our hard work pays off.  As stated above, we want a fully functioning farm that will feed all of us within the community of workers, and then enough to make available to the rest of the atoll inhabitants.  There is not enough “bio waste” or composting fuel in our area to do this right off the bat, so it will take awhile to create and catch (via fishing) our compost.  The goal for the farm will include around 20 or more planter boxes, each planter box to be 3ft wide by 12ft long and 2ft deep (roughly 3 feet to 1 meter for our international friends). Fruiting trees will be in two different sized planters: the first size will be 3ft x 3ft and 3ft deep, the larger sized will be 6ft x 6ft and 3ft deep. We are also planning on raising chickens, pigs, and goats, so we will have to build livestock areas for them to live in (but that may become a later project).  The first stage is the hardest but if we get it all done and fully functioning, we will have set up a community that can fully support itself and others in the area.

In Stage two, we will construct the dome, or to be more specific, a sphere with half of it underground.  The sphere will be made of steal reinforced concrete, which will provide a safe place to wait out any storm, provide a place to store any expensive tools or supplies that might try to walk away, and also act as an additional water storage area.  The interior will have three levels.  The uppermost area will be for storage and might double as a radio/ satellite communication/ Battery storage area. The main floor will be for storage, and may also be where we can set up a brewery, winery, and/or distillery.  The final floor, under the main floor, will ideally be used as one massive cistern.  The exterior half of the sphere that will appear to be a dome will have four levels of ascending built-in terraces that will act as additional planting areas. The top of the Sphere is where we could set up a sizable solar panel array, supplying us with more power then we’ll need.  We could also set up VHF, SSB, and/or other radio and satellite communication antenna and receivers- giving our little community an opportunity to keep in touch with people abroad. Yes, one of our main goals is to come to the motu to get away from everything and reconnect with ourselves and nature, but we all have families to stay in contact with.  Fun fact:  we may not have have the greatest cellphone service, if any, and international cellphone services add up regardless of how conservative you might try to be.

Both stages one and two can be done at the same time if we have the man power and resources to get them accomplished.  We’d really like some feedback and/or suggestions for this project, seeing how Teare and I have never attempted something remotely close to this, so please feel free to contact us. If your feedback is negative, however, such as “you guys are nuts, stop now” or “ how much are you paying us”, any negative thoughts or comments really, please keep them to yourselves.  This is a judgment free zone!  We understand that some people may not agree with, nor believe in our project idea, and that’s perfectly fine and natural, but we fully believe in this project and we believe in the satisfaction that working together, planning together, and organizing together as a team will bring everyone involved.  So if this still sparks your interest, get in contact with us and we will keep you informed on timetables and any other information you might want to know.

The start date for Project Motu is currently undecided as we still have a lot to plan and organize but we are thinking of breaking ground some time in mid to late 2016 or early 2017, so stay tuned for more information, and start saving up for your ticket to French Polynesia!

WISH LIST

  1. gas powered chain saw, with 3 extra chains, and file for sharpening chains

  2. Ax and file to sharpen

  3. 2 normal sized shovels

  4. gas powered wood chipper, various spare parts that wear out fast

  5. 2 hammers

  6. various sizes of nails and screws

  7. 2 hoes

  8. 2 spade

  9. 2 rakes

  10.  small gardening shovels

  11.  conex container lg or sm

  12.  post hole shovel

  13.  lg pry bar

  14.  saws

  15.  4, 5 gallon gas cans with gas

  16.  2 gallons of 2 stroke oil

  17.  come-a-long (power puller)

  18.  600 ft of ¼ inch polypropylene rope

  19.  1 spool of wire mesh 6mm / ¼ in

  20.  seizing wire .032 in /.813 mm

  21.  various screwdrivers

  22.  socket set standard and metric

  23.  various veggie seeds and or sprouts

  24.  5 gallon buckets

  25.  50 gallon drums as many as we can get

  26.  galvanized corrugated metal sheeting as much as we can get

  27.  galvanized gutters, downspouts, elbows, ect.  as much as we can get

  28.  sheet metal cutters

  29.  metal hack saw

  30. 10 tilapia

  31.  chickens

  32.  cinder blocks as many as we can get

  33.  200 pounds of concrete

  34.  bamboo

  35.  various pliers

  36. solar panels, batteries, inverter, power cables and connections

The Atoll

Ahemaru, Tuamotu

This is the atoll we will be setting up our lives at. Though there is an airport and a village, it is still fairly remote.

Our Little Corner

Getting the lay of the land...

Home sweet home. This is where we will be rebuilding, living, farming, etc.

Long-term Plans

Aquaponics, Chicken Farming, Fish

Our long term plans include setting up an aquaponic farm that can sustain our little motu, and then hopefully become big enough to feed people in the village too! Fresh vegetables and fruits are a luxury here.

The Village

Te Nuku Para

This is the village where we will periodically be stopping in...to see family, spend time with the community, shop, etc...