New Brunswick

New Brunswick straw house community offers free land

A New Brunswick couple want to give both to you. They’re trying to build their rural community and want new neighbours.

South Knowlesville Community Land Trust is seeking new members

This straw house should be ready next summer. (CBC)

Want some free land and help building a straw house? A New Brunswick couple want to give both to you. They’re trying to build their rural community and want new neighbours.

Tegan and Leland Wong-Daugherty are already living the dream in their very own straw-insulated house. After building it, they looked at their other 130 acres of land and decided to give it away.

In 2010, they created the South Knowlesville Community Land Trust so they can give away a 2.5-acre plot for zero dollars. They'll also help people build a new house on the land made completely of straw.

The community website says they're creating "a small, dense, rural neighbourhood where urban and rural sensibilities can be brought together to create a wellspring of opportunities for the inhabitants and surrounding community."

Building community

"We're getting exactly what we were looking for when we started," Tegan Wong-Daugherty said.

"We were noticing as a young family, living in a rural area is isolating. So we're getting neighbours and we're getting more families moving into the area."

The new community consists of about 20 people and four straw houses. The straw houses work off the grid, too.

The offer drew Anick Symons from her lifelong home in Quebec to New Brunswick.

"I came here and I've recognized it as being home, and for me there was no going back after that," she said.

Not for everyone

Interested parties will have to first live in the community for a year to make sure the lifestyle fits them.

"[We've had people] from as far as B.C., we've had people coming through in Ontario … making their way to South Knowlesville to investigate, see what they think," said Leland Wong-Daugherty.

Most eventually move on. Darius Shakrokhi recently arrived from Ontario. He likes the community, but doesn’t see a permanent home there.

"Anytime you live in a community where you have to get 100 per cent consensus before you do anything, that's not easy," Shakrokhi explained.

The newest house should be ready by next year, and it will have taken 18 months to build.