InishOge Farm – Storing Warmth and Real Wealth

Coll_Unger_560Staying warm is one of those essentials for human life — like food, water, clean air. In the northern latitudes, staying warm requires good shelter. To rely only minimally or not at all on outside utilities (e.g., for electric heat) requires smartly-designed good shelter.

In Sooke, B.C. on Vancouver Island, we met a family who are building a cob house with geothermal space heating that stores summer heat to warm the house all through the winter.

Mary Coll, Steve Unger and their delightful children Chloe and Finn live at InishOge Farm (Gaelic for “wee island”). They’re breathing life back into an early settler’s farm — complete with chickens, turkeys, pigs, orchards, and with visions of further permaculture-inspired projects.


They’re building their house where the older farmhouse stood. They lovingly dismantled it and are re-using its materials, both to build the tiny house they now live in (12×14 feet plus sleeping loft), and a cob house under construction.

One focus of our video tour was heat and cold in their cob home. On the south side, the sun’s heat is stored in thick cob outer walls. In winter the low sun slants through dual-glazed windows to warm the cob floors and back wall.

Under the house is an earth “battery” made of crushed rock and sand. Rooftop solar thermal panels send hot water through pipes interwoven in the rocks. The rocks are warmed over the summer months, holding more and more heat. Come cooler weather, they slowly lose their heat in the winter, keeping the house warm (this is called an annualized geo-solar, AGS).

On the cold north side, super-insulated walls keep the house from losing that warmth during winter, and keep out heat during summer. There’s also a cooler room whose natural refrigeration works like an indoors root cellar.

Enjoy watching the video not only for the house tour, but for Steve and Mary’s perspectives on storing their wealth not in banks or the power company, but in their learning and the land. Plus, Chloe and Finn give us a personal tour of the Harry Potter room under the stairs. Magic! []

Watch video Bringing the Wealth Home – intelligent Design at InishOge Farm (episode 301)



  1. […] * Sooke spotlight on Peak Moment TV:  Transition’s Stephen and Lee Hindrichs hosted the team from the online, Nextworld TV-style channel Peak Moment last week during their visit to town. Watch for videoclips on the Sooke Harbour House and Steve Unger/Mary Coll’s InishOge Farm in the coming weeks. […]

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