Bioshelter Pond


Once I realized I could grow food and have fish with aquaponics in the greenhouse, my imagination went wild. I envisioned a quiet, tranquil, cozy space where I could smell, hear and see water, as well as an abundance of aromatic plants, growing in synergy with the fish. Most of the bioshelter examples I could find were solely concerned about growing food, but the bioshelter I wanted to build was a retreat, a micro environment that adhered to the idea that human habitats are linked to mental health. Not only mental health but the connection to nature that intern connects us to one another.


The barrel is turned on its side and a chalk line guide was made at approx 1/3 of the way down, then cut.


I aspired to build an example of a southern facing (our building is slightly more south west, functionality trumped in our very small yard) building with as many windows as possible without loosing too much heat to window surface. The idea was to create a building where the inside and outside would be seamless. I chose the sliding doors which are approx 2′ off the ground to be the main southern facing windows, which in the summer we leave open with the screens. In our current building model, we tend to leave out the need we have as humans to connect daily with the outside. To be aware of the changing seasons as a part of our everyday experience. This in tern connects us to that which is most important for sustaining our lives..the soil.


The sand was dug out so the barrel would sit approx 1′ below floor level, in the bioshelter.


In this dreamy little space I wanted it all; fish, plants, fire, a place to warm food and somewhere to work, sleep and hang with family. It is a very tall order for 108 sq’!  At the time when I began creating the idea of this space, I had been following the Tiny Home movement for some time, so the seed was already there for a multi functional, multi use, micro space. Its not as feasible for a family of 5, but the idea of how much space do we Really need is a good one! In one of my passed lives, I owned a home staging/organizing business, which lends itself well in the tiny spaces arena because organization is key!


The bioshelter became an experiment in so many more ways than initially anticipated.  I set out to build a place to grow food for our family of 5, throughout the extremely cold winters we experience here in Southern Western Ontario, Canada. I began to see it as not just a retreat, but as a sort of fall out shelter in case of black outs!


We have two pump-less ponds I created over the last couple of years in the garden. The high volume of water now rushes from my neighbors yard through an entry way I created under the fence that feeds into the two ponds. One overflows into the other, instead of the marsh our backyard used to become. Last year we simply put our fish in a tank and brought them inside for the winter. This year I created a pond out of an unused food grade barrel. We managed to keep the fish warm with no external heat source until the end of November 2015. We added a heater and kept the temperature around 18 degrees, the fish are happy. Then came the condensation from the pond which has consistently kept temperatures around 5-10 degrees warmer in the bioshelter.


Below -15 degrees Celsius the condensation freezes on the windows as you can see above.