Hello from Manchester, Michigan! We are Nayan Hajratwala and Meaghan Lemon of The Wild Familiar. Manchester is a friendly small town with a rich history, charming shops and a few local restaurants. The greater area offers all kinds of outdoor activities, breweries, music venues, restaurants and more. It’s conveniently located 30 minutes from Ann Arbor, Michigan (home to University of Michigan) and an hour from Detroit and Detroit Metro Airport (DTW). Michigan has a lot to offer when it comes to natural beauty. You are never too far from one of the Great Lakes!
In the spring of 2021, we purchased a 46 acre alfalfa lot, with the hope of starting our dream farmstead, The Wild Familiar. Neither of us had any farming experience, but we quickly fell in love with the green rolling hills and endless possibilities. It’s the perfect blank slate to build our Living Building Challenge home.
The Living Building Challenge is a philosophy and certification that asks, “what if every single act of design and construction made the world a better place?”. A Living Building should act like a flower. Our house needs to have a relationship to its location, provide net positive energy & water to the land and community, use sustainable materials for building (straw!), provide equity for residents, and have an aesthetic/biophilic value. This green build philosophy led us to strawbale building. If you’re reading this, you already know why straw is a great building material.
Our house will be an approximately 2200 square foot ranch style building with a vaulted ceiling and a full basement. In an effort to further reduce our carbon footprint, we’ll use a permanent wood foundation rather than concrete. The FSC certified timber framing and roof will be completed before the workshop. A truth window and maybe a niche or two would be a great addition.
Nayan and I plan to bring the Living Building philosophy to the rest of our farm as well. After researching the property, we discovered the land was conventionally farmed for over two hundred years. This has led to poor soil health and loss of important habitat. Along with building our farmstead, we are embarking on a lifelong project to restore the land to its original habitat, an oak barren. We are very excited to start this new journey and want to invite you along. It’s always refreshing to meet people with similar passions and interests. Nayan and I learned so much from Andrew and the workshop we attended last October. We know you will too!