Photo by Thomas Kirchen

As if their schedule isn’t enough to exhaust the two of them, Katryn became pregnant with Hazel about the time they were planning to build their own home on the farm. Galen designed the passive solar house, which boasts a solar panel array large enough to help pump water for the entire farm, service the walk-in cooler for their vegetables and supply them with all their electricity needs. Local solar designers Cooper Kessel and Eric Roberson helped turn the drawings into a plan that gave Galen county approval to build.


The unique design features large, covered porches that Katryn feels are an essential addition to any home. They keep heat and direct sun out of the home in the summer but admit plenty of sunlight for warmth in the winter, with the help of large south-facing windows. The concrete porches and the floors inside act as the heat sink they need to keep the home comfortable with the use of their woodstove. The western porch has a huge roll-down shade with a crank similar to those used for rolling up the sides of their high tunnels, which Galen modified to shade the entire west side of their home in the summer.


Galen built as much of the home as he could himself, but he relied heavily on contractors and friends to help out every step of the way. Since money was tight, he and Katryn got the idea to sell five-year shares in their CSA to pay for some of the contracted help. Many people signed up, including one family who purchased three 5-year shares. Another friend gave them a loan that is payable once yearly, right after the tomato harvest, when it is easier to make a payment. “A good portion of our home was financed with vegetables,” Katryn said.


The Westons’ large battery bank is housed in the basement, and this location is also used to process and pack their produce. Katryn said, “We used to call ourselves ‘Far-Flung Farm’ because everything was located all over the farm. Now almost everything can be brought right here and packed up out of the rain.”

This article was originally published in The NEW PIONEER™ Spring 2016 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here.

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