Open Forum on Sustainable Living, Organic Landscaping & Permaculture. Get to know our panelists.

What can we do on a daily basis to help the Earth? This month’s Open Forum sponsored by Douglas Ridge LLC & Landicity, brought us an entirely new subject that many people may not think about when building a sustainable home. We can build a sustainable home, which consists of an airtight, energy efficient, low carbon footprint home made from sustainable materials, but what about the outside of your home?

We had four amazing panelists, including landscape architect Kerry Lewis, architect Emily Mottram, sustainable designer Michael Maines, and permaculture designer David Homa. Each has an important part in the movement of sustainable living here in Maine, but each one of them coming from a different background.

David Homa, a permaculture designer here in Maine, discussed what permaculture design really is, as most people have never heard of it. Permaculture design is trying to create a closed loop, balanced fertile landscape. Up front there are inputs but overtime, it will maintain itself. Essentially, everything you put into the soil surrounding your home will become a nicely balanced ecosystem. For example, this could be putting hard wood wood chips in surrounding your trees as mulch, and your plant selection is almost entirely based on your soil condition. Homa stated that homeowners should start with a soil test, figuring out the pH of your soil, therefore selecting plants that will thrive in their environment.

Permaculture design is meant to have little maintenance, and the goal is to have little to no need of watering. When you build a nutrient based system in your yard, everything will thrive in its own location, making it self-regulate that will in turn give feedback to the homeowner, to the environment, and to the species living in it.

Mike Maines specializes in passive homes. He builds passive homes, anything in between, or sometimes just a room. Passive homes are amazingly energy efficient, but it is not a perfect high-performance home. This can save homeowners money while still doing good for the environment and their own health. Mike has spent much of his time in the last year on studying the carbon footprint of homes, and how we can reduce this. He too is transitioning his own home into a permaculture landscape as he wants to sustain himself and his family for the future.

Emily Mottram, and architect here in Maine, specializes in energy efficient homes in cold climates. Recently she has designed a subdivision in Cumberland with only energy efficient homes. She believes that people in Maine are looking for other people with a similar mindset and lifestyle with the environment and multigenerational living.

Kerry Lewis is a landscape architect who recently moved to Maine. She grew up on a farm in upstate New York who has always been called to being outside as much as possible, and making the outdoors feel like they are indoors. She actually purchased a home in the same development Emily Mottram designed in Cumberland, and said she feels called their to help revive the nutrients in her yard as they were greatly damaged during construction. She believes people are called to Maine to help nourish and enrich the beautiful landscape that already exists.

Our Sustainable Living events sponsored by Douglas Ridge will resume in early October, we wish for everyone to have a safe and healthy summer.

For more information on Douglas Ridge and sustainable homes, visit for more information.

By Published On: July 16, 2019Categories: Energy Efficient Homes, Green Homes, New Home ConstructionTags:

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About the Author: Michael

Michael, along with his wife Laura, is co-owner of Maine Home Connection, an independent real estate company located in Portland. Maine. Together they started the brokerage from scratch with a new vision of what a company could look like if it focused completely on the needs of our clients and our agents.

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