A reexamination of his stressful life turned into a novel creative economy business for former English language teacher Douglas Barnes.
Barnes runs EcoEdge Design Ltd., a permaculture design, consulting and teaching business in Tweed that specializes in developing sustainable land use designs for people’s properties, homes, and other agricultural land.
An educator for 20 years, Barnes became interested in permaculture while teaching English as a Second Language in Japan. He had been overworking and he was having health problems and he knew he had to find a new career.
He started reading about permaculture, an approach to designing communities and agricultural systems that harmoniously integrates the land with its inhabitants, and soon enrolled in two permaculture design courses in Australia.
In 2006, Barnes launched EcoEdge Design (www.ecoedge.ca). He has since designed and implemented permaculture systems in Canada, Japan, India, and Australia and has taught permaculture seminars in Japan and Canada. His project in India transformed a farmer’s arid property into a lush mango orchard.
Barnes and his wife are now building a home in Tweed that will act as a permaculture showcase to demonstrate that permaculture can significantly reduce energy consumption without high construction costs.
“It’s more or less self-heating, stores heat, and stays quite cool in the summer time,” says Barnes.
To maximize the heat the sun provides in winter, the house is built with its longest side facing south. Many windows are being installed on this side.
The house does not have a basement and is instead built on a cement pad, which collects heat from the sun during the winter and radiates heat when the sun sets. Because the sun shines from a different angle in the summer, the pad does not heat up in the hot season, so the cement pad has a cooling effect.
Andrew Redden, Economic Development Manager for the County of Hastings, says Barnes and EcoEdge are a perfect example of how creative economy businesses can be successful outside of the big cities.
“Douglas Barnes operates out of Tweed and travels to you, offering sustainable environmental design and consultation services for your home, garden, farm and water systems,” says Redden.