What is bioregional building? Steven Martyn got in touch with me when he released his latest book called The Roundhouse, which is all about bioregional building. It’s essentially the idea of finding all of your building materials within a 100 mile radius of where you’re building the house and it has a lot of interesting benefits and effects. Steven, a very philosophical and wonderful guest, has a lot of interesting ideas about living on this earth and I’m happy to share them with you.

In This Episode:

  • What is bioregional building and the hundred-mile house?
  • Building with creativity and fun
  • Not minimalist: anti-consumerist
  • How to get building experience without building your own house
  • Geomancy and your constantly moving home
  • Humanure compost system

Links and Resources:


Guest Bio:

Steven Martyn

Steven Martyn

In addition to having an M.A. in traditional plant use and a B.F.A. honors, Steven Martyn is an artist, farmer, wildcrafter, builder, teacher, writer, and visionary who has more than thirty years of experience living co-creatively with the Earth, practicing traditional living skills of growing food, building, and healing. Steven created Livingstone & Greenbloom in 1986, Toronto’s first green landscaping company.

In 1996, he created the Algonquin Tea Company, North America’s premiere bioregional tea company. He has given talks and run workshops internationally for more than twenty years and taught plant identification and wilderness skills at Algonquin college for 11 years, and at the Orphan Wisdom School for eight years. In 2014, Megan and Steven started the Sacred Gardener Earth Wisdom School. Steven released his first book The Story of the Madawaska Forest Garden in 2016, his second, Sacred Gardening in June 2017, and The Roundhouse in 2022.







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Tiny House Considerations is an 8-week interactive course to plan your tiny house with Ethan Waldman and Lina Menard as your guides. Includes:

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Learn more and register: https://www.thetinyhouse.net/thc

More Photos:

The Roundhouse is made from logs and cob

Steven didn't cut down one tree to build The Roundhouse

Building with local materials has interesting benefits and effects


The Roundhouse is not a perfect circle, due to a large rock

You can purchase The Roundhouse at TheSacredGardener.ca


Steven Martyn 0:00

The unions and the regulations and all the stuff around building is largely about insurance. But the problem is you have to have done a certain amount of building to kind of gauge whether it's common sense or whether it's just nonsense.

Ethan Waldman 0:16

Welcome to the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast, the show where you learn how to plan, build and live the tiny lifestyle. I'm your host, Ethan Waldman, and this is episode 241 with Steven Martyn. Steven Martyn is an artist, farmer, a homesteader, and a builder, among many other things. And he got in touch with me when he put out his latest book called The Roundhouse, which is all about bioregional building. What is bioregional building? Well, we get into it in the interview, but essentially, it's the idea of finding all of your building materials within a 100 mile radius of where you're building the house. And it has a lot of interesting benefits and effects, which we will talk about. Steven is a very philosophical and just a great guest. He has a lot of really interesting ideas about just living on this earth that I wanted to share with you. So I hope you stick around.

But first, I wanted to let you know that registration for my interactive 8 week tiny house course called Tiny House Considerations is now open. This is like if you want to build a tiny house or buy a tiny house in 2023 and you want the most attention from me that you possibly can get, this would be the course. It's a small group setting. My co instructor is Lina Menard, a multiple time podcast guest and just a really talented builder and designer. And we take a group of about six or seven or eight of you through the Tiny House Decisions framework and help you plan all of the systems, all the building methods of your tiny house. It's, it's quite an experience and it will really help you get your tiny house off on the best foot possible. Registration is open now. There's a $100 early bird discount that's happening if you register before the end of the year, so before January 1st, and you can learn more over at thetinyhouse.net/THC. Again, that's the tiny house.net/THC. I know what you're thinking, but that stands for Tiny House Considerations. So check out thetinyhouse.net/THC and I hope to see you in class.

All right, I am here with Steven Martyn. Steven Martyn is an artist, farmer, wildcrafter, builder, teacher, writer, and visionary who has more than thirty years of experience living co-creatively with the Earth, practicing traditional living skills of growing food, building, and healing. Steven created Livingstone & Greenbloom in 1986, Toronto’s first green landscaping company. In 1996, he created the Algonquin Tea Company, North America’s premiere bioregional tea company. He has given talks and run workshops internationally for more than twenty years and taught plant identification and wilderness skills at Algonquin college for 11 years, and at the Orphan Wisdom School for eight years. In 2014, Megan and Steven started the Sacred Gardener Earth Wisdom School. Steven released his first book The Story of the Madawaska Forest Garden in 2016, his second, Sacred Gardening in June 2017, and The Roundhouse in 2022. Steven Martyn, welcome to the show.

Steven Martyn 4:17

Nice to, nice to be here. Or nice to be there or somewhere. Nice for you to have me.

Ethan Waldman 4:23

We're meeting somewhere. Yeah, exactly.

Steven Martyn 4:26

In the ethers?

Ethan Waldman 4:26

We're meeting somewhere in the cloud. Yeah, yeah. So you, you sent me your your book, The Roundhouse and I really enjoyed looking through it and, and it kind of introduced me to the concept of bioregional building.

Steven Martyn 4:44


Ethan Waldman 4:45

So can you can you kind of define that for us as as a concept?

Steven Martyn 4:51

Yeah. So it's kind of a bit of a geeky academic term, I guess, bioregional. I don't know if it's ever gonna catch on as a thing. But basically, it's kind of like, if you look at your region, and bio regions are generally defined by watersheds.

Ethan Waldman 5:12


Steven Martyn 5:13

Without getting too deep into that you're looking at your region. And you're looking at where the region is losing wealth. And where it's, you know, gaining wealth in a sense. So the region as organism, and then you start to kind of like this is on a social scale, this is how we would look at it is, like, for example, if we're buying cars, and most of our money is going to go probably to the states. But just to say, it's not going to stay in the region. But if we're buying, you know, from a market garden, or we're buying someone who making furniture or tiny houses or something locally, then the money is staying in the region. So that's kind of the broader sense of the definition and on a smaller kind of personal way. It's basically trying to get everything local.

Ethan Waldman 6:11


Steven Martyn 6:12

So, from your food to your materials for building or everything, just start thinking about local. How could I do this locally, you know, because so much of the wealth of our planet is being spent just flying stuff around? You know?

Ethan Waldman 6:31

Yeah, absolutely. And that. I know that, that in the building, materials industry, in particular, there's a lot of kind of global materials, things that are being shipped around the world. You know, most of the most of the wood studs that that I can buy here in Vermont probably come from somewhere in the southern United States. And I know that, you know, if you're west of the Mississippi, it's a lot of stuff from from the Pacific Northwest. So it sounds like it's about finding building materials locally.

Steven Martyn 7:09

Definitely. Yeah. I mean, sometimes there's recycled things like skids. And things like that, which I know for tiny houses are quite a viable option for quite a few aspects of them.

Ethan Waldman 7:23


Steven Martyn 7:24

But, you know, in general, like, say, in my area here, for example, we have what's called Eastern cedar, or white cedar. There's almost no industry that uses it, because it's very inconsistent, its tensile strength is very inconsistent. So it's difficult to grade. But if you know, wood, it's fantastic wood. And there's lots of local people around here who are, you know, sustainably working their bush, with their little mills, you know, portable mills. And so those are the people you're looking for. Right? As opposed to, as you said, stuff that's been shipped, you know, here and around or certainly across country.

Ethan Waldman 8:11

Yeah. And the idea of 100 Mile House, was that kind of inspired by the the 100 mile diet?

Steven Martyn 8:23

Yeah, completely. I tried unsuccessfully to get in touch with those folks before I stole their idea. But I didn't title my books for, for obvious reasons. But it is the same idea. And it really they hit it at the right point, or whatever their publicists did, and it actually became quite a phenomenal book, because people hadn't really considered that stuff. And then the whole thing of local horse, you know, is an actual movement, which is pretty amazing. So it just shows how one good seed idea can just kind of spread out into things and then suddenly everybody gets it because we're all ready to hear it.

Ethan Waldman 9:06

Yeah, absolutely. Here here in Vermont, where I am, there are multiple local lumber operations and the tiny house that I built this used a lot of local cedar and pine. But I know that that's not the case for everyone for everywhere. I'm curious, you know, how do you see the concept of 100 Mile House applied? You know, someone may be living in a city or you know, in a place where maybe no trees grow maybe they live in the desert?

Steven Martyn 9:47

Yeah, well, I mean, really to bring this full circle pie think of the earth ships you know, the garbage warrior there. Michael, what's his name?

Ethan Waldman 9:59

I don't know his last name. I know who you're talking about.

Steven Martyn 10:01

Sorry about that.

Ethan Waldman 10:02

That's okay.

Steven Martyn 10:03

You know, the whole idea of that was the same idea was just using regional materials. So they use tires, use tires and pop cans. And, you know, the probably the most unsustainable aspect. And they didn't really think it through.

Ethan Waldman 10:20


Steven Martyn 10:21

... of the Earthship thing is the concrete, which is highly problematic.

Ethan Waldman 10:25


Steven Martyn 10:25

The carbon footprint and stuff. But other than that, the idea was really good. And I think the idea is good everywhere. And there's a lot of places like saying not like Vermont, but that are a little bit more degraded environments where you get pretty scrubby trees that generally mills aren't, aren't going to use.

Ethan Waldman 10:47


Steven Martyn 10:47

So this is essentially what the Roundhouse is built out of is it stuff like poplar, and things that generally are considered kind of junk wood and use for pulp are fantastic building material. Again, poplar is one of those things that you have a hard time gradient grading it and different things like that. So it's not in the industry, but it's great building wood. And, you know, so this was the ideas, I was actually even able to use just windfall, or trees that had been flooded out, I didn't even have to cut any live trees, which again, is just the level of connection with your land and knowing what's going on and kind of what's available for building what's presenting itself. Right?

Ethan Waldman 11:34

Yeah. I love that, that you were able to do most of the building without even cutting down any trees, just finding trees that had already been blown down. And you sent me a bunch of really just beautiful photos of the Roundhouse. And I encourage people to go to the show notes page for this episode, which I'll announce kind of at the end, to go and see the photos. But for someone, you know, maybe somebody's in their car driving listening to this. Can you kind of describe the Roundhouse, like, you know, what it looks like? How big is it? How was you know, what is it made out of? Sure kinds of things.

Steven Martyn 12:15

Sure. Well, it's kind of long winded, but it is a stack wall. cob Earthship.

Ethan Waldman 12:26


Steven Martyn 12:27

So it's backed into a hill, it has heavy glazing. And it's stock wall, but it's not made with concrete. It's made with cob. And And again, like, kind of what's called Junk wood.

Ethan Waldman 12:40


Steven Martyn 12:40

Poplar and things like that, softer wood. Yeah, so heavily glazed on front. It's, it's kind of an oval, it's not a perfect circle. It's like 16 by 14 or something. Right, we hit a big rock at the very back as we were going into the hill. And that was our limit.

Ethan Waldman 12:57

Stopping point. So far, we're going in with the stacked wood cob, it looks like you've essentially sliced sliced wood kind of created full round logs, for lack of a better term. And then they look like they're pretty far spaced out. And they're kind of set into a cob wall.

Steven Martyn 13:18

That's great. Yeah, I don't know if he got to that part in the book. But I talk about working on an Earthship. And it was a planting retaining wall made with pop cans. And the pop cans were put to close together, there wasn't enough mortar between them.

Ethan Waldman 13:40


Steven Martyn 13:40

And it created a diagonal fault line. And the whole thing kind of fell out. And so I kind of, I learned from that, you know, that it could be the same thing with the rounds of the log, diag diagonal fault could easily form. So you had to have at least a few inches kind of between them as tempting as it was to use less cob, because it's very labor intensive.

Ethan Waldman 14:06


Steven Martyn 14:07

But it's one of the things they talk about it like I was part of a, you know, a workshop called building workshop locally here. And it was an incredible amount of work. It took like eight of us in the workshop, like a couple of days to make part of one wall kind of thing. So I realized back then that it was like, "Okay, this is a group activity." Or somehow you have to make this way more efficient. And so just over time and watching different buildings, and you know, thinking it through, I thought, really the stack ball thing, you save about two thirds of the volume of cob. And then if you look at the diagrams of the way that I do it in the book, The cob is also just on the ends of the logs. So you're saving all that middle, which is another kind of half of the amount of cod So it ends up not being actually that much cob.

Ethan Waldman 15:03


Steven Martyn 15:04

Which, you know, makes it more doable. It was really to do the whole building. It was probably four people for a month going at it.

Ethan Waldman 15:13

Okay. Nice. Yeah, that's like, I don't know if it's if it's a joke, or I don't know if there's enough like cob people out there to joke about cob, but it's like, how do you build a cop house? You like have to have a cob workshop in order to do it. Otherwise, it'll take you a decade.

Steven Martyn 15:31

Pretty much. Yeah, I heard these great stories about back in the day in the old country, like in Ireland and stuff. They'd actually layer in the clay and sand on a dirt floor. And then they'd have a big party. So they'd invite over. Everybody over, some fiddlers, some drummers, everyone, and everyone would dance the floor together, like they work the muck the whole evening, then you'd have some people come in the next day and actually finish it up kind of thing that they did all the work with their dancing. So you got to think of solutions like that. I don't know if you've ever come across this book, I'd highly recommend it. It's called Gaviotas. It's about this community in Colombia, that this very privileged diplomat, son started. And he gathered up all these incredible engineers from all over the place. And it's a really incredible tale about how from basically in a land that's pretty barren, in a sense, are hard to draw materials from and stuff. They created this amazing community and all these products, and one of the things they did was for a third world distribution, they created a teeter totter, well, pump. So the kids playing on the teeter totter company pumping water for the, the town kind of thing. So you know, we've got to be creative, right? Think about how to put stuff together your different needs.

Ethan Waldman 17:09

Very cool, very cool. And then then your floors kind of imbued in with that music. I was thinking.

Steven Martyn 17:18

So true. So true. And you know, I really feel that in the cob building we have, you can actually still see everybody's hand. You know, I didn't wipe that out intentionally and make it so you couldn't see any handprints or any, I kind of wanted all that feeling and, and so we do a lot of ceremony in there and a lot of things. And I feel like everybody who has worked on that building is present and being affected, you know, because we're all connected through the building. Yeah.

Ethan Waldman 17:50

Um, so is that how did you do the floor of the Roundhouse? Is that also cob?

Steven Martyn 17:56

That is, yeah. And the, the primary difference being that you don't need something like straw to bind the pieces, because it's a, you know, it's just, it's horizontal, and so no chance of it kind of cracking and falling apart.

Ethan Waldman 18:14

Right. Right.

Steven Martyn 18:16

But, you know, like, with a lot of things with building over the years, I kind of have come to realize that the unions and the regulations, and all this stuff around building is largely about insurance. And not often about common sense. But the problem is, you have to have done a certain amount of building to kind of gauge whether it's common sense, or whether it's just nonsense. And you know, the fact is, is that a lot of the regulations are nonsense.

Ethan Waldman 18:47


Steven Martyn 18:48

You know, I talked about in the book, this thing of, we build stuff now for a once in 200 year storm they talk and just how incredibly stupid this is, because you use four times as much material. And then did it ever occur to somebody that when the storm was going on, or at some break in it, someone could go out and actually shovel the roof?

Ethan Waldman 19:10

Right. Right.

Steven Martyn 19:12

Like, you wouldn't have to use four times as much material. Like, it's this kind of nonsense, you know, that we're all kind of living like kings and queens or babies that are completely incapable of responding to our environment to the needs of something like a house, you know, right? Because houses are living beings and they need things to from us.

Ethan Waldman 19:36

Yeah, I mean, it seems like that is one of the features or bugs of modern living is that we don't we're not really encouraged to think about our houses in that way. As as things that we need to really live in harmony with, I guess, you know, we all think about okay, we have to do maintenance, we have to like repaint the house every time 10 years are we have to, you know, replace a fixture that breaks but not in the way of like, responding to natural events, weather events and things and kind of keeping our house going.

Steven Martyn 20:17

Absolutely. It's, you know, it's not just in building, it's across the board. The phrase that I love is the tyranny of convenience. has taken over our world, you know, yeah, everybody wants everything to be so easy and convenient. And because of that, every other culture of things is actually sacrificed.

Ethan Waldman 20:39


Steven Martyn 20:42

It's a, it's a powerful tyrant, convenience. But, you know, I think there's something inherent in the tiny house thing that is actually going against that. I think it requires a degree of discipline, and not just discipline, but discernment. You have to discern how much space you actually need and what you need for, you know, where and all that kind of minutiae is what we all have to do with everything. And it's what we used to do, out of kind of economic need. Like I was thinking of that before I came on this podcast, I thought, like, up here in the north, where I live. Everyone had a tiny house, the average house in this area, they're all log houses, still, you can see behind me was about 16 by 20.

Ethan Waldman 21:35


Steven Martyn 21:36

So this whole trend, and they would raise like 15 kids last, which is just like, we can't even conceive of being in that house with three people. You know, so it, it can be done, it always was done, it was part of the whole industrial boom, kind of thing that happened after the Second World War. 50s and 60s and 70s, that we started building these stupid big houses. People didn't used to have big houses, right? This is the new thing. And it's a stupid thing. And it has to do with decadence, and, you know, getting ahead of the Joneses and all that shit. Right? Nonsense.

Ethan Waldman 22:16


Steven Martyn 22:17

You know, and it was promoted by Hollywood and by everything else, you know, and so people bought into it. And it's this movement that you're part of, you know, is, is becoming aware, like, whoa, you need a place to sleep. And that's about it. Like basically, a lot of stuff can go on outside or ancillary buildings that don't need heavy duty insulation, all that kind of stuff, you know.

Ethan Waldman 22:44

Yeah. And I think that there's a big realization in the tiny house movement that with that smaller house, and that living outside of your house, there are so many other advantages, be it just in connection to community or, you know, just simple dollars and cents, not having to spend as much money to live and then not having to work as much to live and just like, all these life changes kind of low from that home.

Steven Martyn 23:13

Totally incredible. Whereas the opposite is true for those but yes, you know, mansions like you have to be cleaning them all the time. And you got to fill them with stuff. Because I've lived in quite a few tiny homes and old farmsteads in different places. And I can tell you, no matter how big your house is, you will fill it.

Ethan Waldman 23:35

Yeah. Yeah.

Steven Martyn 23:36

It doesn't matter how small or how big we have this amazing talent to fill stuff. So yeah, if you have less space than you totally considered do I need this? Do I really need this? You know, in the minimalism definitely I can see in you know, in the media and stuff I can see goes in hand in hand with the tiny house thing I did want to kind of bring a question maybe a bit back to you see what you think about something here. Because they think about this thing with minimalism. I have been very minimal at points in my life. But I'm not now. And part of it is because I'm a homesteader. But I realized what I am as I'm, I'm an anti consumer. I don't buy anything new or anything industrial

Ethan Waldman 24:28


Steven Martyn 24:29

But I am not a minimalist. Like I collect wood if I see someone's throwing out wood or anything good I collected because it gets packed away. And then I can find a use for it. And I actually do you know, and it saves me huge. But then you know you're talking I know about having storage and things like that which are maybe a bit environmentally complicated, but I just think it's an interesting and see what you think to discern between kind of what minimalism and anti consumer ism as you know?

Ethan Waldman 25:05

Yeah, absolutely. And I, it's a great distinction to make. And I also think that I don't, I don't particularly subscribe to any one definition of minimalism. Like, I think that its minimalism is to you. And it's different than what it is to me, like I have. I have four instruments on the wall behind me, but they're all very special to me. And they're all for different types of songs and music. You know, someone else might say, "You don't need four guitars."

Steven Martyn 25:40

"It's excessive."

Ethan Waldman 25:41

Right. Exactly. So you know, for you for your life. And what you're doing, you need all those tools you like in order to be a homesteader. You need a massive number of tools, and places to keep them and and you need land to create the food that you eat, though it makes sense to me.

Steven Martyn 26:00

Yeah, no, that's a really good point. It is, I guess, all kind of place, place and person. Yeah.

Ethan Waldman 26:08

You know, science. Yeah. Well, one idea in the book that that popped out at me, and that I was hoping you could kind of expand on is the idea that that the terms kind of natural and green, have been kind of stretched to the point of being meaningless. Can you can you talk a bit more about that?

Steven Martyn 26:30

Yeah, I mean, I'm not an expert about these things. But there's lots of people probably maybe like where you are, there's lots of people who in the last couple years, have been kind of fleeing the cities. And coming up here and, and trying to homestead. And, you know, they'll look at efficient homes or easy to build homes. And so they see, and I'm not targeting anything, this is just an example. And I'm sorry, if anyone's offended by this, they'll see maybe like, some kind of prefabricated geodesic dome, that's all synthetic, right. Seems like a good idea. It's inexpensive, relatively, and blah, blah, blah. And you can do it with a wrench and whatever, put it all together. But really, I kind of, I can't help but feel like, this is just another form of colonization, when you're bringing in all these extremely alien materials to a natural site. And then you yourself live in this little bubble that's not at all in any way related to the land where you're actually living. And I think about kind of the the oddness of that the alienness of it all. And then people, you know, they buy all their food, none of their food comes from their land. And then suddenly, they're like, "Oh, I feel lost, I don't really have any kind of meaning in my life." Because you're not attached to anything, you're not connected to things, you know. And, you know, it's understandable, because that hasn't been made some kind of priority for us. In fact, it's quite the opposite. We don't want to be dependent on things, we don't want to be attached to things. We want to be kind of free floating. That's kind of it's an illusion, you know, that's not how life works. It's part of us that may be idealizes, about these things. But it comes from a place of dysfunction. Really, what we want is embeddedness. We want to be embedded in the land. We want to be embedded in our community. This is what gives us meaning and purpose in our life. We don't generate it, it comes from the land and from other people. You know, yeah. And so we kind of move towards this ideal. We do it in so many ways, like my generation, at least, was real keen on getting as far away from your parents as you could get as soon as you could. And so you moved out, you got a house, you move hundreds of miles away, and then you have a kid and you're like, What the hell did I just do? I could have had like, predict. We do this kind of over and over with stuff where our independence to trying to seek in divine individualization and independence, we kind of sacrifice the body of something that we came from, you know, whether it's the earth or your community, the same thing. Yeah. And so the quick fix things like Sorry about this geodesic dome people, but for example, yeah,

Ethan Waldman 29:59

I think that There's also something there about the experience of building your own home also as a way of connecting you to to it.

Steven Martyn 30:09

Hmm. That's true. Yeah, very important too. And, you know, I talked about this book a bit that this was a rite of passage for us in traditional cultures, until you became married, and you help the woman and you built the home for her, you weren't considered a man. And so, and in traditional cultures, universally, the house was seen as feminine, and it was owned by the woman. And, you know, this is as it should be, because, well, if men are flaky, and something goes on, and they disappear, whatever, at least the family stable then right, the woman and the kids have a house. That's all important. Yeah, absolutely. And it's,

Ethan Waldman 30:59

it's tough, because not everybody necessarily will get to build their own house in their lifetime. Just I think the scale of the number of people that there are makes that impractical, if not impossible. But I do think that, that you can seek out an experience helping someone else build a house, there are there are plenty of people looking for hands, for their tiny house builds or Habitat for Humanity, or all these different ways that you can get involved with building a house. And and I agree that there is a real, there's a special feeling to it. And a connection that you get from doing it. Yeah, yeah, for sure.

Steven Martyn 31:44

Yeah, and I mean, I guess like anything else is those who are attracted to will find a way for it to happen for them, you know. And, really, I mean, what you're talking about is cities.

Ethan Waldman 31:56


Steven Martyn 31:57

Because if you live in a country and you have any degree of land, there's a good chance you could build your own tiny house, you know, and, again, with the powers that be the local municipalities and stuff like that, you better not call it a house, outline this in the book as well. Just call it an outbuilding, or a shed or something like that. And then they leave you alone, you can do whatever you want. You know, and I would really encourage that I know. I'm, I'm kind of a disciple of Martine Patel. And he talks about building like a tea house for yourself and ancestral house.

Ethan Waldman 32:37


Steven Martyn 32:38

You know, and I think that's a really interesting idea. Like, even if, like you said, you live in an apartment, or maybe already live in a house that's already made, or whatever, you can still do this thing where the sacredness of creating a building and the power of creating a building, you can still do, you know, by creating a shed or a garage or something, a tea house. And I think it's, the building thing is an important piece. Like I believe growing food, you know, is just an important piece of being a human. Being able to forage and find your food and and, you know, process it is central to what we are.

Ethan Waldman 33:21

You've used the word sacred a few times, and it's in the book quite a bit. And I'm curious if you can share, do you kind of have a definition of, of sacred?

Steven Martyn 33:32

Yeah, thanks for asking. I guess, again, because we don't come from a spiritual culture, we come from very much the material culture, we don't have many of these words. And sacred has been that word is primarily been co opted by the Catholic Church historically. And so a lot of people might feel kind of a bit of a repulsion from it. And I think this is from the way the word was used, which was, in the sense of sacred and profane, of higher and lower. And I totally don't mean it in that way. But how I mean, sacred is something that's divinely inspired. And that the very foundation of our culture, every aspect of it, agriculture, pottery building, all these things were divinely inspired. They were given to us by the gods. And there was a price and there was an agreement about using all these things, and we've forgotten all of that. And we just kind of go in hog wild on everything. And you know, there's huge consequences to this. So the idea of kind of pulling back and kind of going, Well, really, wouldn't I want all my food to be sacred, my house to be sacred, my livelihood to be safe? Could my relationships to be sacred? Isn't this what we're all actually after? No. So I know it takes a little bit of curving to find our way back to a nice kind of like minimalism. I don't think there's a hard and fast definition. I think it's what's sacred for you and where it resonates in your heart is really what it's completely about.

Ethan Waldman 35:26

Nice. I like that. Thank you.

Steven Martyn 35:28

Thank you.

Ethan Waldman 35:32

And I'm just, I apologize that I'm just like, firing questions at you. But I there's a there, there are a bunch of notes and I want to kind of make sure that the listeners get get exposed to some of these ideas. Geomancy

Steven Martyn 35:45

Oh, no, I appreciate it. I love the questions.

Ethan Waldman 35:47

Geomancy. What is that? And how do you do it?

Steven Martyn 35:51

Strangely enough, like we know the term a little bit better as feng shui, yes. But she geomancy is the Western term for it.

Ethan Waldman 36:00


Steven Martyn 36:02

Arguably, in the old country, in Ireland and Scotland, and these different places that most of us are from, they understood these things very well. And the the standing stones, certain churches, certain towers are all built on what they call ley lines. And so ley lines is kind of like in her body, if you think about acupuncture, and energy meridians, it's basically the exact same concept, but on the Earth's surface. And this is true of the, you know, the Mayan pyramids and Egyptian pyramids, and many, many sacred sites, is there already was an energy a convergence of energy there. And so they utilized it. Now, the other side of that is that, depending on the minerals underground, depending on the arrangement of buildings, the arrangements of roads, all these different things, you can kind of be on a sharp edge, if something were on a blunt edge of something. In other words, the energy flow around us isn't always hospitable to life. And so to kind of be able to assess how to arrange things, or place a building, or a path or anything, as a certain resonance, right. And really, like if you're an artist, or musician or something, you understand what I'm talking about already, just one single stroke or one single note or anything. There's so much behind it living inside, you know, so, yeah, and then

Ethan Waldman 37:48

I'm kind of thinking about geomancy in the context of somebody with a tiny house on wheels, where they might actually move it. And it would be in different locations. And just needing to pick the right spot, you know, within wherever they're able to park it.

Steven Martyn 38:09

Yeah, for sure. Even I mean, I think anyone who's done this with a van or even setting up a tent or whatever, you know, it takes some doing to just find the right angle of things.

Ethan Waldman 38:20

Yeah. Yeah.

Steven Martyn 38:21

You know, obviously being level and all those things are kind of important.

Ethan Waldman 38:26

Yeah, definitely. Definitely.

Steven Martyn 38:30

Like this idea, too, that even walking is in a sense, we are electromagnetic beings, the Earth is electromagnetic. So particularly if you're barefoot, and you're walking, you know, there is this whole interplay with the Earth, you're really interacting with the Earth years ago, actually, it was the first year we were building the Roundhouse might one of those workshops allowed showed up and his family had made their money big time by investing in these electro, like paramagnetic bracelets and, and things that you put on your bed, and I'm probably not getting the terminology.

Ethan Waldman 39:14


Steven Martyn 39:14

But anyways, I think you know what I mean? Yeah, these grounding things. And then he basically said, or you could just go out to the park and take your shoes off shoes and socks off and you get all the same effect for this thing. And I was like, "Oh, okay, now I know what you're talking about."

Ethan Waldman 39:30


Steven Martyn 39:30

But it's, it's so many of us. Like, again, you think about running shoes or any kind of shoes. It's all rubber soles, you know, so literally, we're, we're insulating ourselves from the, the giving electromagnetic energy of the earth. And then simultaneously, we're all being subjected to the 4g and 5g and all this shit. So again, it even becomes more important to be grounded and connect with the Earth's frequencies.

Ethan Waldman 39:59

So in In the book, and I do recommend it. And I want to ask you, where where people can find it. Because it really does go through. It goes through the philosophy. And then also the whole build, really. So it's got a lot of practical end kind of spiritual and philosophy, philosophical wisdom.

Steven Martyn 40:22


Ethan Waldman 40:24

Yeah, so, actually, yeah. Where can people, where can people find it?

Steven Martyn 40:28

Sure. So thesacredgardener.com.

Ethan Waldman 40:32


Steven Martyn 40:34

Or.ca. And we have them both, but maybe.ca shows you out of the loop. I am. Anyways, this is our website. It's available through the website at this point. That's it. We'll mail it to you.

Ethan Waldman 40:51

Now, and now, you sent it to me as a as a PDF. Is that an option to for people? Or is it only?

Steven Martyn 40:58

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. So you can do a non paper version of it.

Ethan Waldman 41:03

Nice. So in the book, you do talk about your humanure toilet system, which is, you know, very popular for tiny houses as well. I was curious if you could just talk us through kind of your version of the system, because there's some you've got some some things different than what, you know, Joseph Jenkins, for example, talks about in his system, namely with the kind of the two bucket system.

Steven Martyn 41:32

Right. My bucket system or his two bucket system?

Ethan Waldman 41:38

Your two bucket system.

Steven Martyn 41:39

Okay. It's been a long time since I read any of this stuff. So I can't really remember. But yeah, so if people have camps in, in out in the wilds, they know thunder boxes are often referred to as which is a rectangular box. Sometimes they're just one seat or, sometimes there's two seats, so they can alternate. But basically, it's a sealed plywood box painted looks quite nice. And it fits two large buckets, I guess they're five gallon buckets. The toilet seat is over one. Generally, in our household. This is all very specific and intimate. But I guess we'll just go through with it. Yeah, that's fine all my urine, and my son's urine go out to the garden.

Ethan Waldman 42:39


Steven Martyn 42:40

The ladies go in the toilet. And then all our feces go in the toilet. So every time after you go, you dump like a yogurt container roughly full of sawdust. Which again, there's lots of local mills. And usually they're given the stuff away, because it's just, it's just in the way for them. So usually, they're happy to have you come and take it.

Ethan Waldman 43:05


Steven Martyn 43:05

It's also great garden mulch, you can you can use it for all sorts of things. Cedar happens to be you know, a lot of the mills around me are cedar mills. So that's perfect. Because it has the whole kind of, you know, aromatic thing.

Ethan Waldman 43:22


Steven Martyn 43:22

And the general kind of equation, as they, as I understand it from that book, is that if there's carbon, if there's the the material, the wood material, it will absorb all the sulphurs and nitrogens. And these things that tend to create the stink. And it's absolutely true. I mean, we have this in our house, it's not in a sealed bathroom or anything crazy like that. Nobody who comes over ever notices that we don't notice it. It's just, you know, again, it's not carefree. It's not like you just get to shit into the water and flush the toilet and watch it go away. You actually have to be responsible for your waste. And then of course, it goes out to the piles. And I just have two piles one for one year. And then at the end of that fall like just a couple of weeks ago, that gets distributed to the fruit trees. So as as compost as manure. Another really important point that I learned from that book was that pathogens can't pass through the vascular part of a plant. The only way pathogens from safe feces that hasn't been fully composted, would get on a plant is through splash. So, you know when you're talking about fruit trees or something like that, and obviously, that's fine.

Ethan Waldman 44:54


Steven Martyn 44:54

The other thing is when you're spreading it as a compost, any of the surface stuff, the sun is this incredible being that sterilizers stuff like crazy. So the truth is like I've even heard that, you know, when people are in a, in a pinch up here, local people with their septic tanks in the winter, they'll spread it out on the snow. And between the freeze and the sun, it actually gets sterilized. It's a solution to a bad situation, I guess. You don't want to go there, though. No, not promoting the idea. But just to say, there are these natural things that that purifies something like feces, it's only when we keep it in an anaerobic environment that it becomes very dangerous. And that's how things like in Canada here, there was the Walkerton thing. We're by groundwater, a lot of people got poisoned. And it was agricultural. And it was this really, really nasty thing that they do in agriculture now where the feces is liquefied, kept anaerobic, and then it's sprayed out on the fields. And it's all incredibly backward stuff.

Ethan Waldman 46:14

Yeah, yeah. We have similar, you know, similar tensions here as well. There's a lot of a lot of agriculture, a lot of dairy. And Lake Champlain is actually it has one of the largest watersheds for how big the lake is. And so we, you know, the lake has unfortunately become polluted because of, in part because of a lot of the agriculture but also just because there's so much so much flowing into it from so far and wide, which is it's kind of sad,

Steven Martyn 46:51

right? Yeah. So it can be turned around. Yes. Yeah.

Ethan Waldman 46:57

And people are working on it, I actually interviewed. And I'm not going to be able to remember his name right off the top of my head, interviewed someone who has developed now at industrial scale, a composting technique for agriculture, that, that, that it basically allows, you know, dairies to compost their manure in a safe way, and actually use the heat from it to heat their buildings. Totally, super cool.

Steven Martyn 47:32

And the gas actually. Yep, that's also quite possible for fuel. So, again, these multi layered things, and things that work with many things, in many ways, you know, the creativity. There's a demand for it, you know, a huge demand. Absolutely.

Ethan Waldman 47:54

Well, Steven, I've really enjoyed speaking with you. One thing that I like to ask all my guests is just for recommendations for either books or other resources. Are there any any books or resources or people who kind of inspired you or taught you in, in this process of kind of building the Roundhouse?

Steven Martyn 48:16

Yeah, I'm kind of maybe like yourself, I have a feeling in your neck of the woods. But there was a really strong back to the land kind of hippie movement up here in the 60s and 70s. I'm not part of it. I'm not that old. But these guys were all like my older friends, 1520 years older than me. And they all kind of, you know, tried all these different things kind of before I even came along. And so I kind of get the vicarious knowledge through a lot of people trying other stuff. And it's really why I run my own school now, right is I've been doing a lot of these things for 3040 years. And you know, you figure out the best way to do things. And it's priceless. To have somebody in person tell you these things. It can save you years and years of you trying to figure stuff out, you know, we don't all have to reinvent the wheel. And a lot of this alternative building stuff has been worked out, you know, other people have done it. I'm trying to think in terms of books. Oh, I have a couple of really lovely books, but they're just images. Not so much how to actually build. That's okay. I'm sorry, I, I can't have pull on anything there.

Ethan Waldman 49:38

That's totally fine. It's kind of a no, it's an open ended question.

Steven Martyn 49:43

Yeah, yeah. And I'm, you know, it's a funny thing. About five years ago, my eyes started to go. And I thought, well, I've done enough reading anyways. Everyone gets so upset when I say that, but it's true. I already know enough. I'd I just have to act on what I know I have to do what I know. You know? So it's a bit of a joke, but I think there's a bit of a reason when your eyes start to go, you know, it's like, yeah, you don't need to do that. And strangely enough, a lot of very fine work like stuff like grafting graft fruit trees and stuff. My hands know how to do it. So well, I can do it better without my eyes. Wow. Because I can feel everything, you know. Whereas my eyes are kind of blurry and I'm like, trying to figure something out. This was a huge realization I had was like, okay, you know, maybe that's okay, that we start to kind of lose our senses a bit as we get older.

Ethan Waldman 50:42

Rather ones get stronger.

Steven Martyn 50:45

Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

Ethan Waldman 50:47

Yeah. Well, Steven Martyn, thank you so much for your time and for being a guest on the show today. I really enjoyed this.

Steven Martyn 50:54

Thanks for having me, Ethan. I hope there's some folks out there who will order the book and who will get things out of our our little talk.

Ethan Waldman 51:04

I think they will. Thank you so much to Steven Martyn for being a guest on the show today. Please head over to thetinyhouse.net/241 to see gorgeous photos of the Roundhouse. I just seeing them makes me want to go go hang out in there. It looks so comfortable and cozy and earthy. So again, that's thetinyhouse.net/241. There you'll also find links to Steven's website where you can buy the book and a complete transcript of today's episode. Don't forget to head over to thetinyhouse.net/THC, that stands for Tiny House Considerations, if you're interested in registering for the course. Classes start on February 1, they meet for the next eight Wednesday evenings from seven to 8:30pm. Eastern, and you basically get sometimes one on one attention from from Lina Menard, my co instructor and me as we bring you through the entire Tiny House Decisions framework and help you plan your tiny house. There's no better way to do it in 2023 than Tiny House Considerations. So I hope I see you there. Well, that's all for this week. I'm your host, Ethan Waldman, and I'll be back next week with another episode of the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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