Our 13-acre property is located in the beautiful rolling hills of Northern KY, just 30 minutes south of Cincinnati, OH. We run an organic vegetable farm on our flat hilltop acreage and love to cook and share good food, so we look forward to being able to create some fantastic meals for you while you’re here.
This area is semi-rural, semi-suburban so we are just about 10-15 minutes from grocery stores and other conveniences, and a 30 minute drive from CVG airport. The property is a mix of fallow pasture, vegetable fields, and a few wooded acres too. We’ll have a nice combination of campsites available near the edge of the woods and deeper into the woods if you’d like to wander further or have a bit more privacy.
Our family of five currently lives in a small home near the road at the bottom of the hill, but we have have dreamed of building a straw bale home set just into the crest of the hill close to our vegetable fields. We have a sloping site on top of a south-east facing ridge. Our plan is for a two-story walkout with a simple rectangular footprint. On the bottom floor, the north and west sides of the foundation will be buried into the hill and as much of the south and east sides that are exposed will be straw bale walls. The top floor would be completely wrapped in bales. We’ll have a metal hip-roof with deep overhangs to make the bale wall details simpler. The roof will extend to cover a porch/deck on the north and east sides and will include solar panels to power both our home and farm.[/caption]
Plenty of wide south-facing windows will make sunny bench seating in several rooms and offer long views of the forested ridge across the creek from our hillside and closer views of rainwater gardens and wildflowers on the hillside. The top floor will be a large open area consisting of the kitchen, dining, living rooms. One bedroom, one bathroom, and storage or utilities will take the remaining space. The bottom floor will be bedrooms for the children, another bathroom, a family room, and storage or utilities. We will try to design in flexibility so that the lower floor could be a future independent living space for aging parents or renters or farm interns.
The protected south side of the house provides a microclimate for planting grapevines on an arbor to block the summer sun from the lower windows, as well as cold-hardy figs and spring flowering trees. A main entry door for visitors (and children running down the hill to catch the bus) in the middle of the bottom floor will lead to stairs and a passage back to the family room. The house along with the garage and a newly built ‘packshed’ (pole barn) used for vegetable washing and storage will create a positive space that will be useful for farm events.
Kentucky itself is at the intersection of many different regions of the US. The south-face will appear very much in the colonial-style with symmetrical windows and simple details, while the north side with walk up porch and low hip roof will be more reminiscent of an Appalachian homestead. The elevated covered porch to the east might evoke the coastal southern US and the space to the west between the house and garage provides a midwestern patio gathering space for grilling. While this may sound like a jumble to some, the simple rectangular form, continuity of the hip roof, and all that beautiful lime plaster will tie it all together. We think it will look right at home at the edge of our vegetable fields.
If you are interested in exploring the wider region, Cincinnati is a charming river city that has seen a lot of growth and development in its urban core over the last 10 years. There are wonderful river parks, great restaurants and museums to explore if you are so inclined before or after the workshop. We’ve also seen a lot of growth and interest in cycling in the Greater Cincinnati area, with many group rides coming right past our house!
We hope you’ll join us at our workshop and that we can create something wonderful together!