The Rocky Top Living sustainable, ten-home neighborhood is under development about seven miles east of Yakima in Eastern Washington State. Here, we focus on living an active, comfortable lifestyle — using less water, less energy and energy from renewable sources; cleaning water naturally; installing healthy, non-toxic locally-available natural building products and materials; creating smaller building footprints; fostering small community living; growing native plants; and creating climate-responsive buildings using design aesthetics that work with the surrounding land. Here we are creating a model for living that allows residents to live well while contributing to a sustainable way of life that can ensure a healthy world for future generations. Homes and sites are for sale beginning May 2011.
Not long ago, the first inhabitants of the area were the Tkai’waichash-hlama, a tribe of Native Americans who lived along Cowiche Creek, which lies to the north of Rocky Top, across Summitview Road. In the late nineteenth century, the area was settled by farmers who relied upon crops that did not require irrigation, such as wheat, barley and rye, as well as grazing cattle. In those days, homesteading in Cowiche was difficult as farming required the clearing of volcanic rock before the soil could be tilled, and there was little rainfall in summer (only seven inches per year now). In 1906, construction began on the Tieton Irrigation Project that continues to provide water to the orchards that began to replace wheatfields a hundred years ago.
In the valley below Rocky Top, hundreds of acres are dedicated to agriculture. In fact, the entire Yakima Valley region is allowing a more direct connection between residents and their food and other ag commodities. In fact, the entire region is agriculture-based with apples, cherries, pears, grapes, and many other fruits plus a wide variety of vegetables, mint, hops, seeds, field crops, hay and cereal grains, as well as food processing.
While the land at Rocky Top is, well, rocky, and not suitable for agriculture, it is alive with aromatic shrubs such as sagebrush and bitterbrush that offer browsing to wildlife. This desert landscape is also home to a living cryptobiotic crust of blue green algae, lichens, and mosses that protects and enriches the soil. This layer, which shields soils from erosion and fixes nitrogen, faces threats from livestock trampling, off-road vehicle traffic, and invasive weeds. At Rocky Top, every effort will be made to secure the “crust” as we limit the disturbance of the soil for construction activities.
Today, at Rocky Top, water is still considered a precious resource which is why all of our homes are designed to minimize water use both inside and out. With a light footprint on the land, the location fosters an active lifestyle and is close to its food sources as well as other services in this sunny area.
Read more about the project features: http://rockytopliving.net/?page_id=49